Introduction: More Aesthetic Hard Drive Speaker

Picture of More Aesthetic Hard Drive Speaker
A way to make a speaker out of a hard drive that actually looks really elegant. Video included.

I think the original 'hard drive speaker' idea came from Afrotech a couple years ago:

Step 1: Open the Hard Drive

Picture of Open the Hard Drive

If your hard drive is held together by torx screws instead of normal screws, and you don't have a torx wrench, use a drill press to drill into the screw heads (this is what I had to do) until everything comes loose.

You'll end up seeing something like this.

Use a hacksaw to cut as far as you can between the hard drive arms and the platters. Then for the final bit of metal under the arms, use a dremel from the backside of the case. Don't worry about cutting through the flexible cable going to the arms, you should be able to see where the arm voice coil (the coil of copper wire between the two magnets at the arms base) is soldered to the which you're cutting.

Step 2: Solder on Wires

Picture of Solder on Wires

When you've cut the arms away from the platters, solder wires to the voice coil tips (where they were soldered to the cable which you just cut).

You might have to remove the top magnet to have easier access for soldering. To do this, drill out the screw heads keeping the magnet on from the other side of the case. Even then, the top magnet is pretty damn hard to get off, you'll have to pry it off with a screwdriver.

Then you might find it easier to solder to the coil ends if you pull the ends off of wherever they were soldered, this way the ends are free and not so close together.

Step 3: Play Music

Picture of Play Music
Once you're wires are soldered to the voice coil, hook the wires to your audio amplifier (stereo, or whatever) and play some music. Use music with a lot of treble rather than bass to test it.

It will only work if the thing is resting ontop of a good sounding surface, if you're holding it in your hand it won't work. This is like how the strings of a guitar won't make much sound without the big flat guitar beneath them.


ross123540 (author)2006-11-25

what song is that i want it, it sounds ace :-)

leevonk (author)ross1235402006-12-06

it's from a free computer game called 'cloud' you can download the music for free too from a website.

africk25 (author)leevonk2015-12-18


cleaverbikes (author)2015-04-05

Spelling is like 80 percent of the populations pride and joy, more power to you he/z/and/she. Now my comment is about usage, How can one speaker be more aesthetic than another? Also thanks a lot for posting this, just had to complain since I noticed someone else doing something awesome they probably didn't get paid for.

Derin (author)2008-07-07

your gonna spend some time sawing,those HDD drives survive being dropped from five feet 10 times on a concrete floor(tested) while being opened up
and dont forget the "exposed to rain for a month in opened case"

Silverwolf_7 (author)Derin2014-06-12

Try a dremel with a metal cutting disk.

leevonk (author)Derin2009-03-24

takes about 5 minutes

its2l8men (author)leevonk2010-10-10

just use a grinder

snowluck2345 (author)its2l8men2011-06-25

or a bandsaw

sockless (author)snowluck23452011-06-29

Just use a mill.

badideasrus (author)sockless2012-11-24

use a lightsaber. much more efficient.

awesome idea, how much sound do these things actualy make?

omnibot (author)Derin2011-06-25

Nope, it's all aluminium. A hacksaw cuts through it like a hot knife through margarine :)

didgitalpunk (author)2012-01-30

Why on earth would you EVER drill screws? just grab a star head screw driver (or whatever they're called) and unscrew those screws!

leevonk (author)didgitalpunk2012-01-30

the answer to that question is actually right there in your comment if you think hard enough,.....

didgitalpunk (author)leevonk2012-01-31

i don't see it -_- .

leevonk (author)didgitalpunk2012-01-31

I did not have a 'star head screw driver'

mpep (author)leevonk2012-08-15

Also called "Torx"

didgitalpunk (author)mpep2012-08-15

Thank you for the name of That screw type :)

frostybob (author)2011-09-24

Hey guys did as per instructable and nothing happens. Tried it on two HDD and still nothing on either. I didn't cut anything away cos i couldnt find my hacksaw. HELP???? and sorry.... It is possible I broke something because the reading things on the end looked pretty munted

frostybob (author)2011-09-24

Horrible moment when your Torx set goes down to T-10...

vader406 (author)2011-06-25

Can you explain how hdds have speakers in them? o.o

im3733 (author)vader4062011-07-27

They don't, the arm in the hard drive contains 2 main parts, the read/write heads, and the voice coil.

The voice coil operates in a reverse version of an electromagnetic generator, instead of the magnet passing through the coil, creating current, the coil is charged with current and moves through the magnetic field.

Applying a charge to the voice coil forces it to move to one side of the field, reversing the charge moves it to the other side. A soundwave, when convertd to an electrical signal, goes back and forth between a positive and negative charge very rapidly. When this signal is applied to the voice coil, it causes it to vibrate inside the magnetic field, acting in a similar manner to a speaker. These vibrations are understood by our brains as sound.

rprough (author)2011-06-25

The idea was cool enough but could have used more step by step photos. Only had a few photos. not much help.

iminthebathroom (author)rprough2011-06-25

I agree, even if it is a little late to add pictures on the actual build, a couple close ups of how the wires feed in to it would greatly help. Grab a camera, snap a couple and add it to the all ready cool instructable! Hate to criticize an instructable, but this is meant as positive criticism. Many a time I have received comments like this and it only helped to make my instructables better. Thankyou very much for the cool post!!!

im3733 (author)iminthebathroom2011-07-27

The connections you're looking for are the two that attach to its between the magnets.

Depending on your hard drive and the number of platters it has, your arm will have no less than 4 pins, 2 for the coil, and 1 for each side of each platter it writes on.

All you have to do is look at the pins on the arm, and follow the leads coming off of them to determine which is connected where. The rest is simple.

unspecified (author)2007-12-31

Is it really common in your area to own a drill press before torx screwdrivers?

leevonk (author)unspecified2008-01-22

torx are barely used for anything, I used my drill press at work.

TOCO (author)leevonk2011-07-05

That was in 2008. Now they are in everything. But I just take a dremel and cut a flat head across them.

btmarney (author)leevonk2011-06-29

Torx on everywhere. If you take anything apart these days, you are going to find torx fasteners sooner than later. It's a must have set of tools.

beehard44 (author)leevonk2010-01-05

if you own a bike, especially a mountain bike, you do eeda good set of torx screwdriver to adjust suspension, adjust basically everything......
And torx is used for the HDD.........

leevonk (author)beehard442010-01-05

I have a cannondale cad2 mountain bike, no suspension. all I need is a hex wrench.

iminthebathroom (author)2011-06-25

neat idea, love the look! Perhaps everyone should think of this as a super cool mid to high tone speaker. Think I am going to have to try and make one of these, with the addition of some sort of sound box below it. Shouldn't be to hard to bolt one of these down. Perhaps before cutting the box apart clamp it down and drill bolt holes in the bottom. I'd say tap the holes but being aluminum after a while with those natural musical vibrations the threads would eventually break down.

scraptopower (author)2011-06-25

This is so cool :) I HAVE to make it some time :D

epalacios claussell (author)2011-03-14

THIS is awsome im doing this thing for a project you did good i just finished in your last step its true that you should use a song with a lot of treble because if you had a song with a lot of bass you wouldn't be able to hear the song and couldn't really test it .......well good jb on this this is cool

Kiteman (author)2010-10-31

Hey, I made one of these yesterday at the UK Instructables meet-up (other folk were making amplifiers, we had a pile of dead HDDs, the logic was inescapable...)

It works nicely, but volume was an issue (we couldn't screw the speaker down to the borrowed tables).

We found that light, rigid tubes (roll of paper, plastic cup etc) fixed to the arm gave significant improvements.

Thanks for the idea.

Kiteman (author)2008-02-20

I guess I could fix one to my shed wall ...

ReCreate (author)Kiteman2009-03-26

Eh.. probably not if it is made out of wood it probably will stay very quiet

Kiteman (author)ReCreate2009-03-27

Wood is an extremely good resonator - that's how the vibration of string instruments' strings gets transformed into sound we can hear.

Sting vibrates bridge, bridge vibrates wood, vood vibrates air.

And paper covers rock.

ReCreate (author)Kiteman2009-03-27

Well if you do attach it to your wall you should attach it very tight so the sound passes through easily
and tornado sucks up paper

beehard44 (author)ReCreate2010-01-05

paper covers rock and tornado sucks up paper...

stinger0410 (author)2009-11-17

that is pretty cool and neat speaker you have there, good job:)

Amadeos (author)2007-05-26

well, is it crap or good, I wish to build one.

leevonk (author)Amadeos2007-05-26

it sounds good as long as the music is all in the higher frequencies with no base. the base sounds pretty bad.

AdamVigneaux (author)leevonk2009-03-26

It's spelled "bass." Sorry, it was just bothering me.

Amadeos (author)leevonk2007-05-26


Shoeless Boy (author)2007-10-22

Do you need the top magnet cause I have the same hard drive but I lost the top magnet?

tbakhsh (author)Shoeless Boy2009-03-24

no, actually most tutorials tell you to take it off.

aman09 (author)2008-11-16

So guys, I found a quick and easy way to improve the bass tones. Unfortuantely it makes the thing look super ugly. Regardless, the fix is to cut the top off a pop can and then tape it anywhere on the arm. If you don't mind it being ugly give this a try. It works.

abadfart (author)2008-07-27

nice i made one of thees for the Little Shop Of Physics

gamer (author)2007-05-06

that sounds like crap, but its so awsome, anyway, i really like how creative some people can be, great project.

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