Introduction: Stylish Light Switches

Picture of Stylish Light Switches

From now on, when ever you enter your home and turn the lights on, you are going to remember this instructable.

If you like electronics, you definitely going to like making a stylish dimmer switch out from a dead hard disk platter.


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
This project will cost about $3 and these are the materials and tools needed:

1. Hard disk drive.
2. Rotary tool. (with  diamond bits)
3. Dimmer switch.(you can make this but its easier to buy one)
(any way, I've used two types in this instructable for two different switches. A touch switch and a normal dimmer switch)
4. Epoxy
5. duct tape
6. Wires
7. Screwdriver. (better to be an electrical tester)

Step 2: Disassembling the HDD

Picture of Disassembling the HDD

First, you don't have to get electrocuted doing this instructable. If you don't have a decent knowledge of electronics, DON'T do this. Have an electrician to fix you a dimmer.

Read the first two lines again and then start by taking your hard disk apart. What you need from the hard disk is the platter. After you take the top HDD cover you will notice the Spindle. On the top of the Spindle are a couple of screws you must remove as well. Then you will be able to take the platters off.

In this instructable, i used two platters, one from a dead 80G WD HDD and another from a mummified 5M 1985 hard disk. It has a huge and beautiful platter.

Step 3: Preparing the Platter.

Picture of Preparing the Platter.

The first step in preparing the platters is to make a soldering point on its surface. This is done by sanding a small area on one face of the platter with your rotary tool. Ofcourse the reason for that is to make a scratchy surface suitable to solder.

Now what wire to solder to the platter?

The touch switch has a yellow wire which is a touch sensitive wire. Other wires are black, White, and Red. White and Black wires are the ones to reach the lights. Red and Black wires are connected to the power source. Yes the black wire is connected to both the lights and power source. Look at the schematic image of the touch switch for more elaboration.

Step 4: Manual Dimmer

Picture of Manual Dimmer
In this project i fixed another switch with a normal manual dimmer where I used the smaller platter. To attach the switch to the platter you have to make two holes in the platter body using the rotary tool with the diamond bits. First mark the points where you are going to drill. Now make the holes and screw the switch to the platter. The wiring of this one is very easy. The switch has only two wires one to be connected to the power source and the other to the lights.

I have uploaded a video illustrating the touch switch platter.


TStryker (author)2010-05-11

Nice project. I have a similar one where I want to have a touch on/off switch and a manual dimmer, like the ones on the walls. Could I use the same dimmer you used?

samia2 (author)2010-03-15

very nice fits my room perfectly

emerson.john (author)2010-03-05

 Please get someone else to solder that for you.

chessy68 (author)emerson.john2010-03-11

hahah agreed

rusky (author)emerson.john2010-03-06

I would imagine that soldering to the platter isn't exactly easy as it would dissipate the heat too fast!

emerson.john (author)rusky2010-03-06

 Several things can be done to make it simple if the platter alloy is not too hard (softer Al alloys are easier to solder). 1) remove the plating, as he did. 2) heat platter from opposite side with heat gun and tin the exposed surface where the plating was removed. 3) With heat gun still keeping things hot, solder the wire (after tinning it) to the platter using a soldering gun, 150 watts or so. Easiest of all would be to heat the platter from the back with a torch and use a good organic paste flux in addition to the rosin core solder. 

defiant1 (author)2010-03-09

Where did you get a dimmer switch for less than 3 bucks?

The Ideanator (author)2010-03-06

Cool, This would be really awesome if installed in a wall

nowwe (author)The Ideanator2010-03-08

you can use it as a mirror also

smarter (author)2010-03-08

this is a unique design
very attractive and fashionable
wait until it reaches china they will produce millions

emerson.john (author)2010-03-06

 That was a very good instructable, by the way. A clever idea, and I do see your reasoning about preserving the finish on the front side. Using a heat gun would not have marred the finish - it's just heated air, and would not damage the plating. A torch would probably discolor it, which would ruin it for your application.

jewbare (author)2010-03-05

Nice soldering job ;) looks like something outta left 4 dead.

-insertnamehere- (author)2010-03-04

I SWEAR I hear gahreesen music in the background. do you play Uru?

justrelax (author)2010-02-28

why did you use a HDD ?Can we use a normal CD?ilike the project but i donot have a HDD:(

GrumpyOldGoat (author)justrelax2010-03-04

Call the local computer repair shops and ask if they have a dead hard drive you can have.
They usually send them to the landfill, or if there is a place locally, for recycle.

The magnets inside the hard drives are nothing short of AWESOME!!!

will6 (author)2010-03-02

nice design :)

freenice (author)2010-03-02
very nice and stylish indeed one question why the skull?
extratooth2 (author)2010-03-01

 Ok, thought so

extratooth2 (author)extratooth22010-03-01


extratooth2 (author)2010-02-28

 If you didn't want the screws for the manual dimmer switch, couldn't you use some super glue or something?

jimboi$best (author)2010-02-28

 Sorry, I don;t have much of a background of electronics.....but would light work  to turn it on? For example, could I turn it on across the room with a laser pointer?

frollard (author)jimboi$best2010-02-28

With a circuit to do that yes, but this is hooking up to a touch switch - a circuit designed to sense touch (a very similar way to how an ipod touch screen works).

Th3H4rRy (author)2010-02-27

I can see these being of use to the visually impaired or others with disability, Some touch sensitive dimmer switches I have seen have about a 2CM size touch pad. This is amazing. Another great use for a HDD platter!

cerberustugowar (author)Th3H4rRy2010-02-28

When I saw visually impared I automatically thought of someone with no vision at all and then thought  what the heck does a blind person need lights for anyways.  heh   my bad .. yes i know there is partial vision

justrelax (author)2010-02-28

the important thing is conducting material, i understand:)) is there any other conducting material may be used that you can offer?

damasta (author)justrelax2010-02-28

you can grab a cd and coat it with conductive paint...

eu4euh (author)2010-02-28

How  did you get that pixel skull on the wheel?

noobiefied (author)2010-02-27

 Very Modern stylish look to apply on to something that can be very bland!

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