Hard Drive RGB Clock


We’ve brought you an HDD clock in the past, but [mb1988] tried to bring his project to another level by fully documenting it (in Polish). Inspired by [dzgdzzh]’s version of the same invention, [mb1988] decided to reverse engineer it (as well as make a few changes) and base it on the powerful ATmega128. Since this clock, along with most HDD clocks, can only display solid lines of radii, it cannot be used to display text. However, color schemes and animations can be toggled using a remote control. The housing itself is also pretty impressive. The back part of the enclosure was molded out of Rayobond, while the front was simply the original HDD case but spray-painted black and etched with some original artwork. The source code, schematics, and PCB layouts are freely available to download on the project’s thread, but you will have to login to the forum to  access them.

28 thoughts on “Hard Drive RGB Clock

  1. It would be really nice if the project would also be in english. I’m trying to understand why there needs to be a sensor for the disk and how exactly do the leds light up (what pattern). Also, any hints on what LEDs are used in such a project?

  2. Why is there always that little dark patch that spins around? Does it have something to do with that black line you see before it starts spinning and the effect where the human eye can only capture at a certain frame rate. Like when you look at an air plane’s propeller while its spinning?

  3. This is great!

    When I saw HDD Clock in the title – I was thinking: “Oh no – hackaday has lost its class by posting about a crappy project hack that I’ve seen 1000 people do.” – but this one clearly is a worthy.

    Keep up the good work.
    – Kris

  4. @tfs
    What you are seeing is the same effect as when you record a tube television with a camera. You are seeing the desynchronization between the camera and the clock. Likely the clock is running at 60hz and the camera at 24 or something.

  5. The dark patch is caused from the camera shutter not being synchronized with the spinning plate. You would not see that if viewed with your own eyes. If you video tape a CRT TV you also see the same effect.

  6. The sensor is used to sync up the platter rotation and gives the microcontroller a reference point to start “drawing” all of the graphics based on the current position of the platter slit. Look up “hall effect sensor” on Wikipedia.

    Just remember to get an older and QUIET hdd. I have plenty of small HDD’s laying around, but the motor is really loud.

  7. I actually liked the music for the subject, didn’t annoy like most videos before the end of the vid, not that I’d buy a CD full of it, but for this use it was nice, and better than hearing an open HD spin I bet.

  8. I thought about this and you can display text with a HDD clock. All you have to do is to but an LED alpha-numeric display behind the disk anywhere… preferably closer to the center. You will get a little light blockage/distortion from the display, but hey, there is always a cost.

  9. Hello,

    Does anyone have those how-to-build instructions in English language?

    I would like to rebuild this, because it’s really awesome, but my skills about the language of Poland are only enough to recognize some swear words :/

    It would be great if someone has those instructions in english.


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