Synthesize With A Hard Drive

If you’d like a pseudo-mechanical way of producing a droning synthesizer sound, [gijs] is your man. He made a small synthesizer out of nothing but an old hard drive and a few components.

Whenever a disk platter is spun manually, the spindle motor inside the drive produces a few out of phase sine waves on its connections. [gijs]’ synthesizer compares and amplifies these sine waves and sends them out to a speaker. The result is a strange droning chiptune-esque arpeggio.

The circuit for the build is soldered directly to the hard drive enclosure Manhattan style. Because the output of the spindle motor produces out of phase sine waves, [gijs] thought it would be a good idea if he could capitalize on some phase interference to alter the timbre of his synth. The entire build is mounted to a wall with hinges to one side so the speaker can be moved around. It isn’t much of a change, but we can here some wave forms cancelling each other out.

Check out the video of the build after the break. There’s also a few audio samples available on the project page.


14 thoughts on “Synthesize With A Hard Drive

  1. The music sample was both, interesting and annoying at the same time,kinda like bagpipes. Basically this is point to point wiring; trouble shooting and repair shouldn’t be no more difficult than it was, when point to point wiring was all there was. A tight space yes, but have you ever seen the underside of a personal aircraft transceiver that used electron tube technology? Heck the underside of old land mobile transceivers aren’t exactly roomy either.

  2. wow, two awesome deadbug-fu posts in a row almost XD
    this one is mouth watering.

    it’s tempting me to bet CASH i can fix it just to show off lol but seriously that thing is amazing, all electronics should be built that way. WITH CLEAR LIGHT UP CASES, and an LED for EVERY condition/wire… well the ones u can see flash ( <30hz?)

    PS: on normal circuit-boards, how the hell is the heat supposed to rise vertically when all the parts are on a horizontal plane/board? if air goes up, where can it come in from the bottom?
    yeh the boards are in the way.

  3. Try clicking the video and the two MP3s at the same time. Hypnotic.

    I’m telling you, those sounds are going to end up as the background music for some Sundance Festival indy movie shot in black and white and taking place in weedy empty lots in Detroit. Very cool.

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