Introduction: 3.5" HDD Secret Safe

Picture of 3.5" HDD Secret Safe

This little project was one that resulted in me not having the right parts.
I was attempting to make a "USB HDD" by shoving a USB Hub and Flash drive together inside a gutted out HDD. But the hub didn't fit... so I was left with an empty shell.

This HDD swings open on a single screw, and can house tons of objects. If you have parts lying around you house, nobody would suspect a thing. You can even close it up, and insert it into a PC drive bay, the PC won't detect it, it will just slide and lock into place, close up your PC case and BAM, you have extra security.

Lets get started.

Step 1: Find a Suitable HDD

Picture of Find a Suitable HDD

I used a broken 40gb Maxtor drive I had lying in my parts bin.

Make sure you have the right screw driver for the job.
Mine was held together by 6 torx screws, and one smaller sized torx that was a pain to get out.

Heres what mine looked like before I gutted it:

Step 2: Opening Up the Drive

Picture of Opening Up the Drive

This step is the hardest of them all.
This instructable is straight forward, and the idea is easy enough to figure out yourself.

Open up the drive by unscrewing the screws, maybe peeling a "Void Warranty" stick here and there, and some general grunt work, and you got that bad boy open.

Heres what mine looked like when I first popped the cover off:

Note: The metal plate is really reflective, you can even use it as a mirror!
Note2: The magnets are EXTREMELY strong, do not pinch your fingers in between them, for about 10 seconds you'll be sweating in pain until you finally pry them apart.

Step 3: Removing the Parts Inside

Picture of Removing the Parts Inside

The hardest part of this step is the reflective metal plate.
To remove that, I took a hammer, and a metal rod, and from the bottom... popped it out. It took a few trys, but you'll eventually get it.

To remove the arm, just pry it off with a flat head screwdriver, or similar tool.

To remove the magnets, unscrew them from the case and lift them out. BE CAREFUL.
DO NOT leave them near CRT Monitors, you will completely DESTROY them.

I am not held responsible for any accidents or personal damage.

After you clean everything out, your almost done!

Step 4: Conclusion and Tips

Picture of Conclusion and Tips

So, heres the end to my instructable made by accident.
It was my first one, so leave some comments and some criticism, I love that kind of stuff.

To finish off this "safe", I screwed back in one of the corners screws so it swivels around like a hinge. This gives me easy access to the objects inside.

Thats it, pretty straight forward guys.
Make sure to comment, and to salvage the plate and the magnets for other upcoming parts, just throw them in a drawer, you never know when you're going to need them.

Adios amigos!


If you liked my Instructable, and you're maybe a Millionaire, why not purchase something from my "Amazon Wishlist" it would make my day!


hemmikarl (author)2009-03-28

"BE CAREFUL. DO NOT leave them near CRT Monitors, you will completely DESTROY them." That is actually not correct... the magnets magnetise the crt tube and the electron beam deflects due to the incorrect magnetic field in the screen but many screens hava a feature that takes all the charge out of the crt tube and that usually fixes them.

creat0r (author)hemmikarl2012-04-03

is that why when magnets rolled against the side of my laptop screen went black? and then it came out normal? :P

PlasmaPod (author)creat0r2015-10-11

no thats actually because there is a magnet in the top halrf of the screen and a switch that turns the screen off when the magnet comes near it aka closing the lid also LCD screens in laptops arent affected in the sdame way as CRT Monitors

Kingsley721 (author)hemmikarl2009-03-28

Of course, its a simple degauss feature, but just for safeties sake, I don't want any problems, haha.

aj0my0lizard (author)Kingsley7212011-03-22

nice save

dudes (author)2014-10-22

I did this with an old IDE optical drive. Nice idea!

ripperman2 (author)2012-09-09

I'd put the drive back into my old tower. No one would look or steal a tower in the back of a closet. Everyone wants laptops. I'm trying to think of a clever way to make an old tower into a safe, this one is a bit too small, but very useful for cash or small jewelry.

I made such a thing!! For the old computer place I worked for, we had it hooked up to make it look like it was a functional computer! Just a fan on a flip switch, grafted to a 9volt bat, and a red LED light... was amazing! We took an old, metal computer tower, it was square. Gutted it... we used some left over metal parts, from the tandy boxes we were throwing out. We took the metal case lids, and a case nibbler... and made some custom metal ramps, for cash and checks. Kept the floppy drives face places, mounted... but they were hollow. We used that a a big bill 50's 100's dump. The 50's spot was labeled DISK 5, the 100's & Checks was called CHK100. They each dropped down into their own little dived space, in the bottom of the case... got the idea looking at how atms work. We went one step further... this case had a functional barrel lock, that locked a door- that gave access to the hard drive area. Well, we had removed that. BUT, we used that old hard drive area, to mount a hasp lock to the inside of the case, to hide the lock, that locked the side panel from sliding off... we took great effort to make it look like just a store computer. Even to label the tower with masking tape, and calling it, "Store Back Up Unit." It looked like a really old, used computer... totally low budget... PERFECT! Little did they know, at one time there was about $35,000 cash in that thing! From assorted checks, and cash. Over the course of three mos! We also made a safe, for a party store based on the same idea... out of an old Dell OptiPlex. That was a work of ART...

adam.deiterick (author)2014-10-01

HI. Might I add an idea. Why not, keep the screws you removed from the HDD... cut off the threads, but keep the heads. Place them back in their holes, with some metal bonding glue. There by adding the look, all the screws are in solid? making certain all of the screw heads fit, but still there is enough clearnace to open the swivle.

DennizC (author)2014-08-17

What are those two white soft objects?

buckminsterfullerene (author)2009-07-19

You know those magnets you found? Well, im collecting them so eventually i can use them to let me climb up smooth metal surfaces. i have 8 and i need about 20... just one can hold up my entire toolbox and i also need 6 more hard drives

 You have to post a video of you climbing on metal surfaces when you get to do so...

grue (author)Fieldownage2010-03-14

they tried on mythbusters, it failed

c3ralki1l3r (author)grue2012-10-09

it worked but it was really hard to be undecteded for them also it was hard climbing up aswell

You could just buy a few broken hard drives on e-bay. They always have deals on those, and they are usually pretty cheap. I like the idea though.

oh, yeah, i already bought a bunch of powerful NIB magnets from someplace online. Im currently working on them. They total in 600 lbs of holding force, just enough to safely hold up 150 lbs of human meat. :P   (600/4 = 150)

thats a good idea but the problem is moving them up the wall you would have to pull with 600lbs of forse to get them off un less you used an elactromagnit but i dont know how much they ca hold but its a good idea that you got

got to your local dodgy computer shop, somewhere small will have boxes of dead hard drives.

glargod (author)2012-08-31

I had a camera like yours :D but broke -___-

jimbo-g (author)2012-05-18

You could shear the thread off of one of the bolts and use as a drop in pin to hold the cover in place. or maybe carefully remove the thread leaving a few turns at the top of the shank so to open it you can just unscrew with a thumbnail

geckomage (author)2011-12-09

If you want some criticism.. here it is. you did a good job :) nice, simple, straight forward, provided all the steps in enough detail that even someone who had no idea what harddrives were could do this project. keep up the good work.

jimmyz311 (author)2009-04-02

should ad a magnet and a piece of thin steel to the inside top of the lid, so that when turned closed, it stays together better.

yea..but i'd be careful if you put your wallet in there if you did that..the magnet might erase your credit and debit cards...

neat instructable though....too bad I don't have any old HDDs to use..

he removed the magnets <3

mithandir (author)jimmyz3112009-09-26

And then cut the heads off of the missing screws. Then glue the screw heads onto the top cover over the holes. That way it would not be obvious that screw are missing.

Kingsley721 (author)2009-08-10

Just thought I'd share another use for it... Candy dish! I poured a whole bag of M&M;'s in there... yum..

Zanaji (author)Kingsley7212011-03-21

This is awesome :)

flame boyyyy (author)2010-12-04

ya know if someone breaks in your house then they would see the hdd (asuming it works) and take it....getting a better prize ....Your

sleep_deprived (author)2010-03-14

You should cut the heads from the remaining screws and glue them in place.  This way when someone looks at the drive, it appears to be completely intact.  Just an idea.

junits15 (author)2009-09-15

just a little help, the plates are called platters, and the arm is called the read write head.

Supersnail (author)junits152009-11-10

The arm is actually called the actuator arm. The heads reside on the slider at the end of the arm.

Don't know why, but just thinking about it makes me hungry for Corned Beef and Cabbage.

junits15 (author)Supersnail2009-11-11


Nykus79 (author)2009-10-05

Nice idea... but hard drive is value more than wallet. they could just grab hard drive. Then found your wallet in it

sayoian99 (author)2009-07-20

I have the SAME exact drive!hmm.

noobererer (author)sayoian992009-07-23

ME TOO! its not in use but its on the desk right beside me lol

sayoian99 (author)noobererer2009-07-24

mine was in a really bad old Dell which pissed me off a LOT...

noobererer (author)sayoian992009-07-24

lol nice...i took mine outta of really old pc lol, and Dells really blow...they use like the cheapest parts for the computers and sell them like 3x's as much as it cost to make em

fordman15243 (author)noobererer2009-08-06

I actually have a kickass Dell computer... (yes it has ALOT of ram that I added after i bought it and so on) but it has held up for me very well.

noobererer (author)fordman152432009-08-06

yea they have some good computers but ive had 2 like 500-700 $ dell computers and they both crapped out on me, and they also werent even very good to begin with

fordman15243 (author)noobererer2009-08-06

ours was around 500 and one gig of ram then we added three more and it worked like a dream, and it's a gaming PC so it has all fast replacements parts, it's awesome!

sayoian99 (author)fordman152432009-08-06

I have a Compaq but it has not really failed me yet...I need more RAM cuz all i have is 1gb w/ just 2 slots...I want at least 2 or 4.....but i dont have the money,and neither do my parents...

noobererer (author)sayoian992009-08-07

go to newegg and u can buy 2 sticks of ram that is 4gb itself and its like $50-$60 i think...the brand is G-skill and my uncle sometimes uses that and says that its a good brand...heres some links

and there are many more like that...i find buying online is alot cheaper than in stores :P

sayoian99 (author)noobererer2009-08-08

no,litterally we only have $40 until mom's next payday and dad gets a job.(bad economy pulled him out....)

noobererer (author)sayoian992009-08-08

ouch...yea my dad also got laid off awhile ago so he was off for like a month then went into steel working

sayoian99 (author)noobererer2009-08-12

well my dad was the one who got laid off and he was the one getting more now,i have a seperation on my hands and never enough EXTRA sucks...

sayoian99 (author)sayoian992009-08-15

i think that's what we're going for,but its hard for him...

fordman15243 (author)sayoian992009-08-14

wow... im sorry.... maybe you can get a part time job or something to help with expenses while your dad searches for a job.

sayoian99 (author)fordman152432009-08-15

he is...

noobererer (author)sayoian992009-08-12

ouch...that gotta suck...hopefully hes at least sending out resumes

fordman15243 (author)sayoian992009-08-07

Yeah, like i said, I have a gaming PC that has 4 slots for ram (two open) an extra HDD bay, extra bay for a disc drive, and so on. I'm actually in the process of convincing my mom to let me put the old HDD from our ancient HP pavilion into this one and add another 150gb... i think im gettin to her... >_> haha

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