Instructables

Using a full sized HDD in a Laptop

In brief: How to wire a regular full sized desktop hard drive up to work with your laptop.

I have had a bunch of times when you need to use a hard drive designed for a Laptop in a desktop system, say for formatting, or copying massive amounts of files. Laptop drives are by spec. 2.5inch wide, while desktop drives are 3.5 inch wide. This isn't a problem for the average user because we have these nice 3.5 to 2.5inch adapters, however what if you wanted to put a full scale drive into a laptop? You're screwed. Of course, in most cases you couldn't even fit the full drive into the laptop just due to it's actual size, not just the different adapter.

But why do this, it's going to be so ugly! Easy... because I have a pile of 3.5 inch drives, and all my 2.5 inch drives are dead. I personally don't care how it looks, assuming it works.

The pinout between a 40 pin ide (standard) and 44 pin ide (for laptops) are identical except for the last 2 columns on the connector:

pin 41 +5v (Logic)
pin 42 +5V (Motor)
pin 43 Ground (Return)
pin 44 TYPE- (0=ATA)

These actually won't be used to power a standard sized drive due to the increased voltage needed over a 2.5" drive, plus 3.5" drives typically require +12v as well. We will just be ignoring these extra pins, and taking power from somewhere else.
 
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Step 1: Making the PCB

I had a really basic PCB layout I made in Eagle, but my laser printer ran out of toner, so I ended up having to hand draw out all 80 traces with a sharpie. The 2.5" interface was pulled off of a dead 2.5" disk, this just squeezes over the PCB I burned.

As I recall, the first 20 columns of pins are exactly like the full sized cable, the last two are for the +5v dc for the "fun-sized" drive. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the +12v dc which fill size drives need, only +5v dc. I made solder points for them, but the weren't actually used.
Cool work. I wonder if you could tap into a 12v connection inside the laptop to run the HDD off the laptop? Or did you decide there was no good way to power the HDD from the laptop? I wonder what kind of effect that would have on the battery life...
A) There likely isn't even a 12V rail in the laptop. Even if there is (e.g. for the LCD back-light inverter), there likely wouldn't be enough power left to supply the HDD.

B) It would have an enormous negative effect on battery life. The drive I happen to have sitting here calls for almost 12W of power.

You could hack together a power supply that drew straight from the battery, but it would have to be designed to fit in the available space (such as in the place the 2.5" drive used to be).
Say you want to power the hard drive from a wall socket, how would you go about that?

I have a SATA disk I can hook up to my laptop's eSATA port, because it can't get enough power from that port alone I have to (just like you did) hook it up to a molex cable from my (old) PC.

I would rather have a clean solution and get rid of the old pc altogether.

I don't want a PSU on my desk (or under it) what I'm really hoping for is a transformer (wall wart) to molex power suply.

Can that be done? What would I have to look for in volts, watts and amps?
I have nearly no experience with electrical projects but I am confident of my ability to follow instructions and figure stuff out. And I can connect a couple of wires in a safe manner.

If there is a store buy able alternative that would be interesting as well.
This is the cable I'm using and the specs of the hard disk I need to power:
IMAG0161.jpgIMAG0162.jpg
Yes, it can be done, but you will need 2 wall warts: one for 5v, and another one for 12v
The 5v one must be rated for more than 730mA, and the 12v one must be rated for more than 640mA
And very important: they must be regulated wall warts, measure their output voltages with a multimeter, and make sure that they are not higher than 5.25v and 12.6v.
(I just measured an unregulated 12v wall wart, it outputs 18v when unconnected, which wouldn't be good for the drive)

Then cut a molex plug from your old PSU, and hook the negative cables of both transformers to the black wires of the molex plug (doesn´t matter wich one), the positive 12v cable to the yellow wire, and the positive 5v cable to the red wire.

(sorry for the not perfect english)
Thanks for the reply! English isn't my first language either so no need to apologise!

I had no idea I would need two voltages... That makes it a bit too complicated (and messy) for me. I guess I'll have to look into something ugly and pricey like this: http://usb.brando.com/connectland-sata-hdd-dock-with-one-touch-backup-usb-esata-_p00896c044d15.html
beowolf5 years ago
Yeah, it's a nice project, specially when you consider looking into old hard drives, possibly cleaning the all out, I tried this project but in the style similar to using small wires as jumpers using the laptop HDD connector and connecting them to the larger HDD IDE cable, again the jumper connection method, but my laptop (which is similar to the one you used in this instructable: Compaq Presario 1220) only says Operating system missing, I can hear the 3.5 HDD spin but the laptop obviously isn't reading it; if memory serves, I have Windows ME installed in the 3.5 HDD, I am guessing that either the laptop cn't read Win ME or the connections were connected wrong. Do you possibly have detailed wire arrangement(s) between the 3.5 HDD IDE cable and the laptops IDE cable? Oh yeah, I'm using a molex power supply from a pc. See pics for the method i used to connect both IDE cables, note the laptop isn't really using an IDE cable, per se, but a flex cable. See Pics.
zack247 beowolf3 years ago
well if you are still trying to figure it out www.pinouts.ru has the pinouts for 44 and 40 pin ide cables.
beowolf beowolf5 years ago
Sorry, forgot to upload pics in previous reply
100_0524.jpg100_0525.jpg100_0526.jpg100_0527.jpg
About this 'ible: It's really rather sketchy. It assumes a lot of skills/knowledge that could fill at least five 'ibles on their own.

It's a good "I did this, so it can be done, so if you need to do it, do it!" but anyone who has the skills to make it based on this description probably already knows it can be done and how to do it... "E" for effort, though! :D
Kcy1015 years ago
This works great with SATA drives to, just buy an sata extension cable, or like me take a normal sata cable & solder it into a sata laptop, :)
kbishop5 years ago
well, i already tryed like you said in the last mail, and when i put the mini HDD in the laptop, it says "invalid system disk". i tryed one more thingy..to make the HDD bootable, copy the system files onto it, and then run install from DOS, and it copyes the system files, and at the first restart, i get a blank screen with a blipping line in the top left corner..and i want to try to connect the regular ATA CDROM, like in the instructable, because my bios says that it can boot from ATAPI CDROM drive, and i might get a chance..anyway, i'll let you know what happened once i get some results
kbishop5 years ago
i want to correct myself for the last post..the IDE cable that i want to make for my thinkpad must have 3 sockets : one in the lappy, one attached to the laptop's HDD, and one attached to a regular CDROM drive
Bray (author)  kbishop5 years ago
I was able to get my laptop to detect a slave device on the IDE cable, when I had a second hard drive installed on it, but I never tried with a CD-ROM. I would imagine that it would be possible to make the laptop access the drive once it's booted, but as for booting from a CD, the bios has to support this. If it won't boot from the onboard CD-ROM, it probably won't boot from the drive hooked up to our hacked cable. What you may want to do instead is take the miniHDD out and get a converter that does the opposite of what this instructable does. Install it into a desktop computer, boot it from a CD, and install windows there. When it wants to reboot for the first time, you can probably put the drive back into the laptop and let it boot for the first time. :) Good luck!
yes you can do it, use a regular IDE cable with 3 sockets, one socket connect the hard drive, one socket connect the CDROM, the other will be for the adapter to connect to the laptop, as well you will need a regular PC power supply, to power the hard drive and cdrom, you will need to connect a ground from power supply to laptop
kbishop5 years ago
nice one..look, i have an old thinkpad 570 without docking station and i want to install win2000, and i kinda tryed several methods with bootable HDD 'n stuff, but no result because of the bloody phoenix BIOS...until i came on an idea,pretty the same, which is to make a similar rig like this, only instead of a HDD a CDROM..so in conclusion, i'd like to ask if should i expect any positive results
nobody3945 years ago
"a bizarre mating ritual" haha
eight5 years ago
"Time to go root you hoes." Is there an instructable on this? ;)
i still don't quite know how to do this but i have a Toshiba tecra 8000 laptop and i do not have a hard drive it dose not boot from usb should i solder wires onto the motherboard.
does that say windows 98 on the screen? i know its red hat linux but dang.
Bongmaster6 years ago
seems a good idea :9 i got a dead mini drive i can pinch the plug from :Di might try this :)
lavandowska6 years ago
I'm sorry, but I don't see any Instructions in this instructable. I see some pictures, which give me a clue as to what you were doing... What is "Making the PCB" and where is said PCB used? I know very little hardware jargon, but this is something I'd like to attempt.
PCB = Printed Circuit Board, the piece interconnecting the two different cables.
dchall86 years ago
Is there any reason you could not wire in a USB cable. It has power and data. For that matter I have a USB external drive that has a separate power pack to the wall. Why couldn't I rewire it to plug into the USB on the computer and at the drive, separate the power off the cable to power the drive???
Because the big drives take 12v and usb only puts out 5.5
Bray (author)  unspecified6 years ago
This is a possibility with some manner of stepping up the voltage to 12vDC, however thats still a lot of mA to be pulling for the hard drive. I don't remember what USB usually provides in amps, but its a crapshoot on laptops.
n0ukf Bray6 years ago
IIRC, USB is only capable of supplying 500mA. If you're feeding a hub this gets split between powering the hub and each of the devices plugged into it, unless the hub has external power. Paralleling USB ports for more power may not work, since that 500mA might be split between them as mentioned above.
Cool! I was kind of thinking of doing this because I have a lot of spare hard drives, good idea!
maruawe6 years ago
Why don'tyou get a large protable drive and plug it in to the usb port...all you have to do is install your
OS to the portable and plug it in before you turn it on...My daughters laptop disk went bad and that is what I did on hers ,works fine and she has a 120 gig hard drive instead of the 80 gig it came with the laptop

Bray (author)  maruawe6 years ago
Many older laptops like this one don't have the ability to boot from a USB drive. This wasn't a project I did because I really needed to do it, it was more of a "would that even work?"