So your aging hard drive can't hold its data any longer and you replaced it with a new one. Instead of letting it die by the hands of the recycling undertaker, you force it into a new life as a musical noise maker. A dying hard drive makes all kinds of grunts and groans as it starts up. The sounds it makes can be musical and percussive.

This project uses a homemade PIC midi interface to allow sequencer software (Anvil Studio free) to turn on and off eight hard drives. Midi signals are serially transmitted by the sequencer software as sets of 3 bytes at 31,250 baud. A PIC 16F877 has been programmed to receive these bytes to turn on and off solid state relays. Each hard drive needs 5 volts and 12 volts to run. Two SSRs are used to turn on and off the hard drive. I tried leaving on just the 12 volts, then switch on 5v to start the drive up. This worked well for awhile until one smoked up. So I use two SSRs to switch on both 5 volts and 12 volts at the same time. A modified PC power supply is used to supply power.  A guitar tuner pickup and computer soundcard amplifies the sounds, making the point that something went horribly wrong with those drives.

Step 1: The Power Supply

You probably upgraded you computer in the past with a larger power supply and its just sitting in your garage getting dusty.  You can use that power supply (if its still working) to power this project. Start by locating the +5/+12 connectors that would normally connect to the hard drive.  Cut off the connectors and run the wires to a terminal block to make wiring easier. You can get some new connectors at a place like Fry's Electronics to wire up the drives. Black is common (the negative connection), red is +5 and yellow is +12. Below I added a second set of connectors (toward the left) so I can detach the power supply from the project. You will also need a minimum load through the power supply to get it to turn on.  I used a 30 ohm/20w and 50 ohm/20w power resistors across the 12 volt output and a 10 ohm/10w across the 5 volt output. A 12v and 6v auto tail light bulb will also work as a load
<p>Amazing! I would love to try this. I have many hard drives I don't use anymore that have accumulated over the years. It may be possible for me to achieve this awesome music making machine, in time. I love the sounds the hard drives produce. Great work and very inspiring.</p>
That is cool! love the concept!
thats quite awesome i say
You could make a real cool sampler with one of these. Or maybe just with hard drive sounds in general
sounds like stockhausen or schaeffer
Be super hyper mega careful with this... One speck of dust (and I mean just one) and when the drive spins up, the entire platter will literally explode with similar effects to a grenade, shrapnel wise. Just warning, we made one explode in our AIT class by doing this. ;P
That depends on the drive. If you use a Hitachi/IBM Laptop drive that could happen because those are glass platters. This doesn't happen to non-glass ones.
I want diagrams of that hard drive rack. add some clear plastic on it and it looks like a perfect raid enclosure to me. maybe mount some fans on it ad drill some ventilation holes.... sounds quite plausible
Nice job! Reminds me of an Amiga demo that made music by manipulating the stepper motor on the R/W&nbsp;head of a floppy (or 20MB&nbsp;HDD if you were mad enough to run it on your A590!)<br />
The Osbourne portable (sewing machine style) used variable speed floppy drives, as the head moved toward the outside, the RPM was reduced to keep a constant linear speed for the data writing--there was a challenge to get someone to use this variable speed effect to play a tune on one or both of the drives, but I never heard of a result.
&nbsp;&nbsp;this is a really good green project. i find the sound of HDD's to be ambient&nbsp;
I would never thought of using dead(ish) noisy harddrives as musical instruments, amazing idea!<br /> <br /> The only problem is where can I get my hands on the drives? They are so hard to get as people are worried about the data left on the drives... :(<br />
Data on hard drives would be a concern.&nbsp; Although, If the drive is bad, it would be difficult to extract the data without a lot of effort. You should check with the local recyclers that deal in computer scrap.&nbsp; There is one in Berkeley, ca that offers bulk erasing of hard drives with a massive ac magnet for a small charge. You could talk with local computer repair shops too. Just explain what you are going to do with them. There are other devices that make noise, like steppers motors, pager motors, solenoids and even christmas tree lights that have thermostat flashers. See this<a href="http://www.moonmilk.com/2010/02/22/instrument-a-day-21-blinky/" rel="nofollow"> link.<br /> </a>
I did when to a few computer shops and asked for HDD's, no matter how much they want to give me the HHD's to help me with my projects, but they can't. Because they said they had already register HDD's to the recycling logbooks, once it is done, it cannot be undone and the computer stuff must be given to the recycling guys.<br /> <br /> Instead, they gave me an old broken PC lappy and a unwanted 250W PSU which is not registered! :D<br /> <br /> They also said it is illegal to give their damaged stuff away. The Health and Safety law really, really do my head in!!<br />
You have GOT&nbsp;to be joking!!!<br /> I&nbsp;can not believe the amount of dedication you have set to realize a wacko idea that came to your mind &quot;<em>I&nbsp;do not know how</em>&quot; :)<br /> But it's just so cool!<br /> <br /> Sadly for some reason I&nbsp;am incapable of opening/downloading the link for the recording. Is the address correct?<br />
If you are talking about the Percussus recording, it is a mp3 recording at: http://home.comcast.net/~botronics/relaybeat2.mp3&nbsp;&nbsp; If you are having trouble with the video, turn off your ad blocker.<br /> <br /> Sometimes you get a crazy idea and you just have to run with it. Otherwise you will never know. Remember Faraday when he was showing his electromagnet to the public.&nbsp; Someone asked &quot;What good is it?&quot;&nbsp; His answer was, &quot;What good is a newborn baby?&quot; <br />
Oh no...&nbsp;:)<br /> I&nbsp;may have sent the message across in the wrong manner.&nbsp;Guess it's my way of showing my love :p<br /> <br /> I&nbsp;am totaly <strong>for</strong> your doing...&nbsp;and it is just so amazing to have come up to such a conclusion AND&nbsp;result!<br /> I mean making those hard drives &quot;<em>Sing for me Baby!</em>&quot; is way off the roof in being creative.<br /> <br /> I recall he had quoted something more like &quot;Does a baby have any?&quot; when asked &quot;what use does this have?&quot;...&nbsp;Though &nbsp;I may have read a version lost in translation... yes have heard such a story.<br /> Sooo where's your baby gonna grow into?<br />
The singing hard drives was started last year at Robogames 09 during the Musical Artbot competition along with my <a href="http://home.comcast.net/~botronics/windharp.html" rel="nofollow">electric wind harp</a>. The wind harp tied for silver. This inspired the idea for Percussus, which is entered this year at Robogames. So I guess you can say Percussus is the baby.<br />
Can you upload a sample of some of your audio for us?<br />
This is an impressive Glitch instrument. Great job!<br />
I don't understand the point of this, it didn't sound like anything to me.<br />
The project was to test an idea for an artbot installation. I was planing to have many of these &quot;dead&quot; hard drives arraigned as a spiral tree structure with a hard drive at each branch.&nbsp; I would compose how they operate using the midi sequencer.&nbsp; Another artist did a similar project called Hard Drive Rock and that installation was awesome. I showed this test piece at Robogames 2009 and got a lot of good response from the public. Watching the drives operate and listening to the amplified sounds was a lot of fun.<br />
I love the idea of the tree with a harddrive at each branch, that'd look SOO good, very artistic! The sound of these brings back so many memories xD<br />
a 7.1 hard disk surround system was way better!<br />
<br /> .<br /> Hi...<br /> <br /> Me thinks putting a sharp edge on the aluminum disks and using them for meat slicers would be good - though very underpowered.<br />
&nbsp;this may sound almost as goos as a 1984 casio keyboard
Wow you've been through a lot of hard drives. 0_0 <br /> <br /> The project is awesome I cant believe you were able to accomplish that.<br />

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Bio: I like to tinker and experiment with electronics, robotics, programming, and photography. Along with my latest interest in Steampunk.
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