Picture of Recycled Hard Drive Desk Clock
This is an idea that I came up with while taking apart old hard drives for fun. It turned into a regular thing and now I've got the process down to a science. Here's how I do it. I also sell them at

For this Instructable, I'll be using an old WD Caviar hard drive. Drive designs differ, and some are better for this project than others.

You will need:
Torx-6 and Torx-8 screwdrivers
X-acto knife
Phillips head screwdriver
Drill and bits
Machinist's vise
3/4" clock movement
Soft cloth
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Step 1:

Picture of
Next, undo the screws around the edges that hold the cover down, but don't go tugging yet. There is at least one more screw hiding under the stickers. One in the center, and one off to the side. Refer to the pictures to get an idea of where it'll be. Feel around and then cut through the stickers to get to the screws.

Once you've gotten all the screws, you can cut through the tape around the edge and open it up.

Step 2: Disassembly

Picture of Disassembly
Now it's time to free up the actuator. To do this, remove the two screws securing the top magnet, and remove it with a pair of needlenose pliers. Don't try it with your fingers. It won't work. Place the magnet far away from anything electronic.

Then, remove the single screw keeping the actuator retainer in place. Work the retainer up and out. The arm should swing freely now.

Step 3:

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Now, undo the screws holding the platters down. You may have to hold the edges of the platters to keep them from spinning. Once the screws are off, turn the drive upside down on a soft cloth and the retainer, platters, and spacers will fall out neatly. Leave them alone, in that order.

Next, unscrew the motor assembly and pop it out.
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fstop570 made it!11 months ago

I had a great time getting this together. What other DIY projects do you have? You can reach me at


Robert T.1 year ago
I cannot tell you, Aloew, how much I dig this clock! On the other hand, I can't see myself building one of these... I tell meself, argggarhghgjhh! where do I what! If you have one, would you sell it to me? I'm not wealthy but I would be happy to pay you for whatever you have invested, as well as your time. Thanks, 'Doc Robert'
i think this idea is totally awesome so now im going to try to make one
Hey aloew! I just finished mine last night:
I couldn't get the motor to behave so I ended up just knocking everything out
aloew (author)  korosh.baradaran1 year ago
It looks fantastic. Really great job.
534n1 year ago
I made one with some nice gold hands, check it out

How much did you pay for the clock mechanism?

Getting the motor/bearing out was a real pain :)
aloew (author)  534n1 year ago
I pay $5.39 for each.
That looks like it was a WD Velociraptor. They can be rougher. Sometimes I have to start by drilling into the bottom of the motor.
Exocetid1 year ago
Sort of disappointing, although nice in an artsy-craftsy way. Basically all you did was take a disk drive and add a clock module to it. Here's my challenge (to you or anyone else): take the two moving parts, the disk and the head actuator arm and make them the clock. The disk could rotate once every hour to show the minutes while the arm shows the hour. Easy enough to drive the disk with the clock module, you might need a Stamp or Arduino to position the arm.
Etch the disk with radial markings for the minutes and circles for the hours, and then have an LED that flashes as the disk is quickly spun around so you get a POV effect with the etching. You would need to attach a black dot or something to the back of the disk, with a photo transistor and a shielded LED, in order to make sure that the POV flasher stays synced with the spinning disk.
Now you are talking!
Mihsin1 year ago
I love clocks projects. This looks neat enough to give it a try.
Thanks for the good thought.
aloew (author)  Mihsin1 year ago
I'd be thrilled to see how it turns out
i always found this to be the most difficult part, sometimes depending on manufacture they can be almost impossible
aloew (author)  goodforcatfish1 year ago
Me, too. I avoid using certain brands for that exact reason
I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but it never occurred to me to leave the motor and just drill through it. I like it! Gonna give it a try. Thank you.
aloew (author)  rongleblanc1 year ago
I'd love to see how it turns out
essextwo1 year ago
Pretty Clever. I think I'll try my hand at this as I have a plethora of spare hard drives.
aloew (author)  essextwo1 year ago
I'd love to see the results. Post some pictures with a link here?
spin4981 year ago
I like it, just had a hard drive die coincidentally.
aloew (author)  spin4981 year ago
If you end up making one, I'd love to see how it turns out
bluumax1 year ago
Good instructable! I would know, I've made & sold literally hundreds of HDD clocks.
I got them from a recycler for $0.25 ea and movements from Klockit  by the 100's for like $1.50 ea. (This was back in 1998-2004)
I still have cases of big 5-1/4" HDD's
Laptop HDD's are really popular clocks. If you can still find 5-1/4" floppy drives they have a nice motor for clocks.
Some of the 3-1/2" FDD's have a nice motor coil on the circuit board on the back, you can do the same kinda thing as shown here.
aloew (author)  bluumax1 year ago
I sell them, too! I've sold about 27 since July 2012. I get my drives for free from a friend who works in a warehouse that handles computer recycling (they remove the drives to crush them, and I intercept them), so the drives are essentially free. Every so often I come across some cool old ones.
Treknology1 year ago
I am intrigued as to where you sourced a clock movement with long enough reach to penetrate the depth of the platter shaft?
aloew (author)  Treknology1 year ago
I use Walnut Hollow clock movements for 3/4" thick surfaces.
Most art & craft shops have them.  I bought mine from when I made clocks.
foobear1 year ago
Tres geek chic. It'd be fun if the actuator arm could tick off the seconds
Because it has now been exposed to the environment, the actuator head would leave unsightly marks on the platter. I would also suggest spraying the platter with a clear-coat before it acquires any finger prints.
NO!! Clear coat makes it look like it's been dipped in clear plastic goo. It looks like crap. Window cleaner or 99& Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol are good cleaners. I used to make & sell 100's of these, I tried a lot things.. The heads will not mar the surface as long as they are reassembled carefully the way they were.
a) I have platters that are permanently stained by finger prints (just like blue-metal) and
b) I meant very fine clear coat as is used on cars (where they use the minimum possible amount but charge you for a six-inch thick layer).

The heads ticking off the seconds would not be floating on their cushion(s) of air and would cumulatively rub at the surface of the disc.
TheMainMan1 year ago
Took me a second to realize that the hands you were talking about spray painting were not my own... but rather the clock hands ;)
londobali1 year ago
real neat piece of work!
Thanks for sharing!
rgershey1 year ago
When I first read " it is time to spray paint your hands" I thought you were being funny.
I read this particular line as though the author knew how mechanically capable I am and how things would end up anyway. His suggestion therefore would simplify the project.
Yeah... it took me a few moments to understand that too

It's an interesting idea... if I find another HDD in the trash, and manage to find a clock, I might do it.
steve62211 year ago
Nice Job
agis681 year ago
good work!
Very neat idea. Thx for sharing.
Muito bom Goste desse relógio ;)
stuuf1 year ago
any idea where to get 24-hour analog movements easily? i can't stand looking at clocks that are 12 hours off half the time so there's no way i could make myself build one
also, this step is not always useful as the reading heads and the actuator arm can turn more, but yours was held in place by the actuator retainer, but on most drives I have taken apart which is about 10, I have sen one of those actuator retainers only once.
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