A: Disk Drive Dollar Bank




Give those old A: disk drives a new life and find a use for those "AOL" A: disks. Makes a great geek gift :)

After finding an old non-working A: drive in the basement, I wanted to try and make a neat little gift for my nephew (get him started at an early age :P ) using it. I figured at his age he'd enjoy watching a color changing light, but at the same time I wanted to make the gift functional in some way. I decided to make the A: disk into a dollar bill holder, while the drive would be the bank.

1. Old A: Disk Drive
2. A: Disk
3. Small magnet (1 or 2)
4. Two Rainbow Flashing 5mm LED (Blinking LED)
5. Foil Insulation Tape
6. A 100 ohm resistor
7. Electrical wire
8. Solder and Soldering Iron
9. Strong Glue (Gorilla Glue)
10. Exacto Knife
11. Flat and star headed screwdrivers
12. Wire cutters/strippers (or scissors)
13. Thin ferrous scrap metal (if you only want to use one magnet)
14. Toothpicks
15. Small momentary switch
16. 9v battery clip
17. 9v battery
18. Fluorescent light diffusing panel
19. Well vented area
20. Goggles
21. Electrical tape

Warning: There are dangerous fumes involved with this project. Be careful with all sharp, hot, and harmful items. Use a gas mask if you have one...

Step 1: Dollar Bill Holder

First we start off making the dollar bill holder. I had already made it, but just follow the steps I lay out before you and refer to the photos below and you can easily make one too.

1. First of all, get an old A: disk that you don't care about (hence the AOL disk).
2. Insert a flat head screwdriver into one of the sides of the disk (through the seam).
3. Gently pry the disk open (top and sides). Leave the bottom attached. If anything falls out, find it and put it aside.
4. Using a small piece of a toothpick, prop the disk open as shown in the photos.
5. Take out the metal disc from the inside and using scissors, cut all the black material off the metal disc.
6. Glue the disc into the groove that it belongs in. Also glue the "write/locked" tab in the corner onto the track it came from.
7. Allow glue time to dry. Start warming up your soldering iron.
8. Once the glue has dried, take your soldering iron and melt a hole in the center/top of the disk (on the inside). Do the same on the opposite side (once again, on the inside).
9. Glue the magnet into one of the holes. Allow it to dry.
10. Flip the disk over and either glue a small piece of the ferrous scrap metal into the hole or another magnet (depening on how many bills you plan on placing in each disk). Allow glue to dry.

After the glue has dried completely, you will have you're very own dollar bill holder. Just slide the money in and close the "clasp" of the holder...
Next, the disk holding bank.

Step 2: Gut the Drive

To make room for the LEDs, we begin with the simple task of gutting the drive.

1. Use a flat head screwdriver and pry off the protective metal cover from the drive.
2. Remove all the screws using a star head screwdriver (except the one seen in the 4th picture at the bottom right).
3. Take out all the electrial circuitry, but leave the disk ejection mechanics alone.
4. Test out the drive to make sure the disk will eject correctly.

Keep the face plate on the drive.

P.S.- Do as the disk says in the last picture of this step...

Step 3: The Covers

Now to make the LED diffusion covers for the bank. Do in a well vented area!!! Do NOT breathe in the fumes!!!

1. Place the light diffusing panel on top/beneath the drive and trace out the design using either a marker or the soldering iron.
2. Melt the design/outline halfway through the panel using the soldering iron. Now just gently "snap" the panel at the melted areas.
3. Do the same for the other cover.

Now that we have the two covers for the bank, we can start hooking up the LEDs...

Step 4: Wire the Switch and LEDs

After figuring out which side of the LEDs is positive, make sure they work and decide how you want to hook up the circuit. I'll show you how I hooked mine up.

1. Take one of the blinking LEDs and solder the 100 ohm resistor to its positive leg.
2. Figure out where you want to place the momentary switch. I decided to use the ejection surface of the drive since it rises and lowers onto the disk.
3. Solder a wire onto two of the legs of the switch (make sure they aren't the always on legs).
4. Solder the negative leg of the other LED (the one without the resistor) onto one the the wires attached to the switch.
5. Glue the switch onto the area you picked out for it.
6. Glue the LED near the center of the drive.
7. Thread the wire down through the drive to the other side. Remember to leave some slack to allow the drive to rise.
8. Thread the wire attached to the switch down to the bottom (away from the face plate).
9. Solder that wire to the negative wire of the 9v battery clip.
10. Solder the other wire (attached to the LED) to the negative leg of the LED with the resistor.
11. Solder another wire to the resistor.
12. Glue the LED and resistor to the center of the drive.
13. Thread the wire to the bottom.
14. Solder the wire to the positive wire of the 9v battery clip.
15. Tape the wires attached to the 9v clip individually and then together.
16. Allow all the glue time to dry.

The wiring is now done. Next we attach the covers...

Step 5: Attaching the Covers

This is a simple way of attaching the covers. You could also drill and use screws.

1. Using strong glue, trace along the top of the ridges of the drive around the outside.
2. Position one of the covers (flat side facing out) on top of the drive. Use more glue along the edges once you've positioned the cover. Be careful not to get the glue on the inside of the drive, otherwise you have a chance of stopping the ejection mechanism from working. Don't worry about how it looks cause the tape will cover it up.
3. Allow that side to dry.
4. Repeat for the other side.
5. Insert the disk (after glue has dried) to make sure the drive still works. If it doesn't, use a screwdriver to pop off the covers and scrap the dried glue off. Try again.
6. Test out the covers once they've dried to make sure they're secure.
7. Make sure the switch is hitting the cover which will turn on the LEDs. If it isn't, glue a small piece of plastic to the inside of the cover and test it.
8. Tuck the 9v battery into the nook in the bottom of the drive.

Now that the covers are on and the LEDs work, let's add some trim.

Step 6: Add the Trim

Now to add the trim to make it look all nice.

1. Take the foil insulation tape and cut off pieces long enough to cover the sides of the drives.
2. Peel the backing off the tape and attach the tape to the sides. Press the tape firmly onto the sides, top and bottom of the drive.
3. Next cut a piece of tape to fit the back of the drive. Peel the backing off the tape and fold over a small section of one of the corners to make a tab. This tab will enable the back to be pulled off to replace the battery. Now press the tape onto the back of the drive and onto both the top and the bottom covers.
4. Cut small pieces of tape off to use for the front panel. Peel and position the tape over the front panel to cover up the gaps along the edges. Press the tape on firmly.
5. Use the exacto knife to even the edges of the tape on both sides of the drive. Peel off the excess tape.

You now have a functional dollar bill bank. Enjoy!!!



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    11 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Agh! Technology manglery! PLEASE DO NOT USE A SOLDERING IRON FOR MELTING ANYTHING EVER! You can use a x-acto knife or similar on the smooth side of the frosted plastic, then snap it. Provided you traced the line hard enough it will break cleanly. Nice use for an AOL disk though.

    6 replies

    I have no problem using this iron for melting plastic... It's actually a wood burning iron and is only 25 watts which a good soldering iron is around 60. I have another soldering iron at 30 watts which I don't use to melt anything but solder. Also I've tried using an x-acto knife before. It doesn't cut deep enough.


    its not supposed to cut through it, just score it. then snap it. and its not 'a wood burning iron only 25w' my soldering iron is only 30w and its perfectly good. p.s. no iron is specifically for burning wood, its probably just an old soldering iron and 60 watts is like, a serious $200 soldering station.


    I never said it had to cut through, but since the x-acto doesn't cut deep enough into the plastic, when you go to snap along the score marks, the plastic splinters and cracks instead of getting a clean edge. My iron came from a wood burning kit... it does melt solder, but takes longer and isn't good for electronic circuits which are not suppose to be exposed to long periods of heat. You can get a good 60w iron from eBay for around $30-$40, I just don't have the money right now to spend.


    Hmm. Maybe that sort of plastic doesn't like snapping. Ok, now I have heard of a wood burning iron. My soldering iron is fine, and its 30 watts. Maybe you could use a hacksaw to cut the plastic (assuming you have one; most ppl do) but anything is better than melting it. Unless you want to lose five years of your life. (NASTY fumes)


    That's why I hooked up a large 12v PC fan to my power supply to draw the fumes away from me while melting. That's also why I warned people of the danger of the fumes involved with this project.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    My soldering iron has an extra tip that allows an x-acto-style blade to be attached .. very useful when cutting plastic.


    12 years ago

    I have a little stick that has all the colours of the rainbow in LED's in it that has 7 different flashing modes and it only cost me $1.14

    1 reply

    12 years ago

    Step 4»3: Solder to diagonally opposite legs and you'll be fine.


    12 years ago

    wow, thats really well done! i think ill make one too! :D