Old HDD Vibration Table




About: I am an automation engineer but I will give anything a go. I don't know if you call if pessimism or just being an engineer, but I look for problems everywhere, then I look for some weird, left field way to s...

I recently made an instructable making plastic using glue as a binder: here

One of the comments asked about bubbles in the mix, this wasn't really a problem for me as I was spreading the mix thin but when I go again I plan to make full models with the material so I need to be sure the mix is bubble-free. The best way to achieve this is vibration and the bubbles will work themselves to the surface.

I looked at lots of ways of making theses vibrations and settled on an old hard drive I had laying about.

Step 1: Get Started

You will need:

1 Hard Drive (we will be destroying this so make sure it is spare and wiped)

1 Lin Bin

1 Piece of cover material

1 set of precision screwdrivers with torque heads

A rotary tool with assorted accessories

Assorted nuts and bolts

Step 2: Strip the Hard Drive

Remove all of the screws from the cover of the hard drive, this one had a hidden screw under the label.

Remove the driver mechanism for the read/write head, be careful with the magnets, they are strong and pinch your fingers when they come together.

It was too much work to remove the arm and it wasn't a problem anyway so I left it.

Remove the platter.

Step 3: Create the Imbalance

The whole idea of using the hard drive was that they are finely balanced, upsetting that balance makes them vibrate and quite a high frequency.

To create this imbalance, I did 2 things:

  1. Removed a portion of 1 edge of the platter, this trows the weight
  2. Replaced all the screws on the opposing side of the retention plate (these small screws are a significant weight in a balanced system like this.

I removed the material a small bit at a time with the rotary tool and kept putting it back in to test until I was happy with the vibration.

Step 4: Mount It Up

I mounted the drive on edge inside an old lin bin.

I power the hard drive off a unit from an old external hard drive, it supply power but for some reason it needs a bump from the USB on a computer to start the hard disk spinning.

I Put a plate on the top so there is somewhere to place your beaker of material to vibrate and bolted it down to hold everything in place.

Step 5: Test

The test in the video shows a bottle of water being vibrated on the table.

The video also demonstrates that I need rubber feet on the lin bin as it wants to run across the table and I need a guard bar around the top table to stop the samples vibrating off altogether.



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    13 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is great. Was trying to think of an easy shaker table and this would work I think.

    So many possibilities :)

    Thanks for this :)

    4 replies
    Left-field DesignsSherylinRM

    Reply 2 years ago

    Just remember to shave off a small bit at a time and test that you have the amount of vibration you require


    2 years ago

    Those pager/phone vibrator motors are available all the time on different surplus sites if someone decides to go that route. I had a thought. How about just adding a little weight to one side of the platter? Probably a flat washer or two epoxied to it.

    1 reply

    Agree, I may have done something similar but was in a hurry and had no epoxy, I would never trust such forces and vibration to superglue.


    2 years ago

    Two things:

    1) Be aware that some hard drives use metal (aluminium) platters, others use ceramic or glass platters. Cutting chunks out of these are very different tasks.

    Also, you don't want the ceramic or glass ones to explode, from the vibration!

    2) Some/most hard drives will NOT spin the main motor for very long if they don't have the head connected, and flying over the disc, and reading the surface. Feedback from the head (servo signals) are used to regulate the position and speed -- no head, no feedback. Spin down.

    Possibly safer/simpler/more likely to work: Build a scaled up "pager motor" (as used in pagers, cellphones, rumble-controllers on game consoles) -- a DC motor with an eccentric weight on the shaft.

    1 reply
    Left-field DesignsMikB

    Reply 2 years ago

    I fully agree here and wit gives the different materials there is a different approach to machining off a chunk.
    I would never be too concerned about the disc breaking up due to vibration as the case will contain the fragments, the worst is that you loose your vibration source.
    The hdd would not keep spinning while the head servo was connect but once removed it ran flat out, as stated in need a stable from the USB to start the drive spinning though .
    You need to get lucky with the drive you have and there are hacks to trick them into running constantly, if you look at some of the instructables for had sander/grinders you will find them.
    There are lots of ways to make vibration with any motor but making a good eccentric load is difficult. The motors mentioned above certainly make a lot of vibration but it is weak when you need magnitude.
    It should also be noted that screws and fixings need to need to be checked regularly as they will tend to loosen unless you included self locking nuts or anti vibe washer. Thasks for the comment

    Jake Maverick

    2 years ago

    I've been thinking on making a vibration table for some time...and i have lots of faulty hard drives lying about as i also build PCs!

    I was wondering has anybody tried this yet for resin casting?

    the other slight problem...i can't get past the first page on this? pressing the buttons just return it to page 1....I'll try again later but anybody else having this problem?

    1 reply

    Bubbles in my attempt to make plastic, not unlike resin was the reason I made this is in the first place:



    2 years ago

    I would've never come up with this myself. Cool idea to reuse your HDD like this!

    1 reply