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Hard drive platter clock.

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After ripping some ancient hard drives appart to get the magnets out I was left with some cool looking platter stacks. They sat there for a few years until I came up with the idea of making a clock for a good friend of mine for Christmas a couple of years ago.

This year, I decided to make 2 more (one for my brother and another for a long time family friend). This gift is perfect for any computer nerd out there. Actually, it is a pretty cool idea for just about anybody. It is cheap and fairly easy to make.

Items you will need to make one include:
- Quartz movement with clock hands
- AA Battery (for the quartz movement)
- Clock numbers (to tell what time it is)
- Nevr-Dull polish wadding. Or other types of polishing compounds.
- Torx screwdriver set.
- Hammer, Punch, and small chisel
- Hack saw
- Metal file, file card, or power sander w/ sanding belt
- Gorilla glue or epoxy
- Goof-off (cleaning gluing mistakes)
- Windex (final cleaning)

 
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Step 1: Gather items and disassemble platters.

First thing to do is to take your hard drive and a ruler to the local wood working store. I chose to go there rather then the local Hobby Lobby because their quartz clock movements seem to be a much better quality. The 2nd clock later in this instructable (one with 4 platters), unfortunately, has the lesser quality Hobby Lobby quartz movement.

I found that I preferred the 3/4" quartz movement. This gave me the option to put in a 3rd platter which looks pretty nice. The cheaper Hobby Lobby movement was also a 3/4" but it allowed me to put in 4 platters instead of 3.

Some examples of the movements I found:
Wood Emporium 3/4" quartz movement = $8.50
Hobby Lobby 3/4" quartz movement = $4.99

After you get back home put the hour and minute hands on, put the battery in, and hang it on the wall. This will make sure it works and keeps accurate time by the time you assemble everything.

You can also pick up your clock numbers at the wood working store. However, I later found some cool looking ones at Hobby Lobby which I eventually used.

To disassemble the hard drive platters I used a T10 Torx bit. Yours may be a different size. After the platters are off the spindle put them in a very safe place so they don't get scratched. Also, try to avoid touching the platters to avoid fingerprinting them.

nerd74732 days ago

I think this is very creative... I recently took apart a 250Gb drive that didnt work. I may make a tesla turbine or a clock out of it... Which should I make?

tobyscool3 years ago
I made this project before and my project went to the school exhibit :D
jackel6683 years ago
if you can find a 20GB seagate barricude HDD it will have 6 disks inside it. I really like the look of this so am presently collecting parts to make one, im planning on using the drive arm from a 3.5" and the arm from a 2.5" drive for the arms of the clock as well
Treknology4 years ago
 Has a nice steam-punk look to it.
RockmanAU5 years ago
Classy Job, Well Done I love having all the hour increments on my clocks but your style makes that hard to do. One idea that comes to mind tho is to scribe the platter with a razor blade at the appropriate places, should serve the purpose without detracting from the appearance, as long as they were done neatly enough... A circular paper template that was smaller than the disc platter by the required length of your scribe marks & with the exact position of the hour positions marked on it would do the job. Use a metal ruler so the blade doesn't bite into it tho! Again, Top Job!
on my watch it has these bezzed metal line (i dont know what else to call them but they are on top of the face and are about the same shinyness as the metal platter) and i belive that somthing similar would look good i would post a picture of the pieces bu all i have is my phone and it would not come out good sorry

Scribing would look good, but good luck to anyone attempting it. Just keep in mind that the best possible outcome would be to screw up on the very first line, thus retaining as much sanity as possible. Normally, I would advise against using a razor blade unless you have the hand strength, and mental acuity of a Jedi knight. An awl and a straight edge might work. But, the odds of hitting all of the marks exactly where you want them and not where they want to go make it a potentially fruitless endeavor. So a razor blade and paper template might just cut out the middle man. I can imagine making every mark perfectly and cheesing the very last one. Nice clocks, the fact that they aren't all scratched up is impressive.

RockmanAU, why don't you show us some of your clocks?
Cause I use HDD's for electricity generators/audio devices not clocks but I can still share my experience/ideas don't you agree?
Oh, sorry. In your comment above, you talked about your clocks, so I thought you made clocks. I am always interested in clocks people make, hence my request.
geekdude4 years ago
the first time i opened up a hard drive i thought you know what? that would make a cool looking clock, but i never followed through. is there any way you could use the hard drive arms as clock hands?
Jesus105557 years ago
please don't ever remove this instructable. I'm making one of these once my mom lets me have her old one.
Perhaps someone needs to create an instructable on how to save information found on the internet? ;) The new tech way would be to copy and paste into a word processor or open the file menu and click on save as. Explorer now lets you save it all in a single file. The old tech way is a pen and a 25 cent spiral bound notebook.
Tommyhzy static4 years ago
Copy and paste in a draft in Google Gmail then you can access it AND edit it anywhere, iPod, your computer, your other computer, your mom's computer, your friend's iPhone, ANYWHERE there's internet. Oh and I'm not an advertiser as this may sound but it works pretty well. Or clock the PDF selection on the top of this page. Or paste to a notepad, but I think notepad doesn't support images... Or take a picture of the page with a camera. ..... Better yet, screenshots! Screencaptures! Whatever! Or you can memorize it all! Or you can copy all the HTML code to this and hopefully Instructables doesn't delete the pictures when you remove an Instructable............ Or make one right now before anything happens and you won't have to worry about all that!
Or, just click on the PDF selection at the top of this page.
i always just copy and paste to a notepad document, they can be opened on almost any hp computer from window 95 to the vista i think.
Maybe he is has to tear apart his HDD so he wouldnt be able to do that.
oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shiny!
hcold6 years ago
This is a really cool instructable, the only critique I have is the numbers you used. I think they take away from the "professional/steampunk" kind of look it had before hand, though I could be completely full of it.
albetcha (author)  hcold6 years ago
I know what you mean. I tried to do some Roman numerals that were more 3-D looking. But the set was the alphabet and it would have cost a fortune to create IV, IIV, IIIV, V, VI, VII....... You can see how many sets I would have had to buy. This was really the best set at Hobby Lobby that I could find that kind of worked with this clock. Granted, I would have had tons of A's and B's.... If you do find something cooler. Let us all know. I would appreciate it as I only have 1 more Hard Drive unit to build 1 more clock from.
Instead of numbers or roman numerals, I think you could just get some small bars of aluminum or something (could even cut sections out of hard drive casing with a dremel), and stick them all the way around or (my preferred look) at 12, 3, 6, and 9. I think that would look sweet.
Trebawa6 years ago
You could conceivably use the arm from the disk for the one of the hands...
conceivably yes, you could. i'd try it. but i don't have a spare hard drive lying around.
salobyte6 years ago
I think the numbers would look better in binary : )... and for the seconds arm, use something like a floppy disk, and paint a white line across it, or cut it in whatever shape, now that would look even more killer : D, ok, and then like this clock, it looks awesome, but i would remove the platter that's in the middle to leave some space for some LEDs that blink at a fast reasonable rate. That would be a super awesome gift!!
txtsttoo6 years ago
Very nice Indeed I will try to do this one too. so I just pulled out those rare magnets from an old hdd, I will be so glad , if someone can give me any small projects i can do with them. thanks to You all Buddies jerry.
Aeshir7 years ago
I like shiny. I can't open the old HD i have though. The screw holes are european or something.
(removed by author or community request)
I know they're not european. That comment is really old, and I forgot the name of the screws. I used needle-nosed pliers to get the nut off.
bmlbytes Aeshir7 years ago
Try drilling them out. Get a drill bit a little smaller than the head of the screw. Then carfully drill until you get to the bottom of the head. With no head on the screws, you will be able to slide the case off of the screw "stalks".
SteamKit Aeshir7 years ago
It's probably a Torx screw, it's easy to get the ones on the outside of the drive, but the ones in the inside around the platters...well, never seen the insides. I usually just take needle nose pliers, loosen them, then hold on with the pliers and spin the platters to loose them.
Aeshir SteamKit7 years ago
Yeah I tried with the tweezers too but they're on really tight. The tweezers just keep slipping off.
albetcha (author)  Aeshir7 years ago
Aeshir, Did you use Torx? That is what I've seen on all the drives that I have torn apart. An Allen wrench might work but you will strip out a couple of screws. You can get a cheap Torx set at any local hardware store or probably Walmart.
I made something very similar, but i kept the plates in the case, with the top off
chuckr447 years ago
A couple comments. We have our own tech support person at work, and he replaces hard drives when they get old, so we have a supply of old hard drives. I got some free from him earlier this year. Ask your tech guy at work for broken hard drives, or ask a PC repair shop for some. They will likely give you some as there are not really any hazardous parts in them. And the magnets in them are really strong. The magnet is near the base of the arm of the read/write head. Next, I made one of these clocks about 1992 but I used white Elmer's glue. The glue failed after about 1 year so I think epoxy is really required to glue these materials together. Otherwise the clock worked great. I still have it (in pieces).
pmilg7 years ago
I love it.
crestind7 years ago
So cool and shiny! Would make a great tech gift!
Nice, I just found an old HDD that I was going to salvage for parts, now I can also do this :)
Ian017 years ago
How thick was your hard drive?
albetcha (author)  Ian017 years ago
From top disk to bottom disk is 2 1/16" deep From hub to hub is 2 5/16" deep (this includes the face plate (top) and the motor side (bottom). Each disk is 5 1/8" in diameter. Spindle is 1 1/2" in diameter. I don't exactly recall, but I believe they were external 10-15G Scsi drive from about 1994'ish
JakeTobak7 years ago
Awesome, I think I have an old HDD or two somewhere in my basement.
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