Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Hard Drive Speaker

Hard drive internalsok, so what happens when a nerd has a dead hard drive and too much free time in school? simple -- he makes a speaker out of it!

now, you might be saying that this is impossible... how does a hard drive play sound? well, think back to elementary school, where you learned that sound is just a wave... so anything that can create a wave of pressure in the air can make sound. it just so happens that the actuator arm on a hard drive is perfect for this!

alright, so if you want to do this yourself... your going to nee...
  • torx 6 driver (or whatever type of driver you need to remove the screws on your hdd)
  • solder
  • solder iron
  • some sort of amp (not necessary, but makes it much easier to hear)
  • some 3.5mm cables to cut up.
alright, so the first thing you need to do is open up the hard drive. just remove the screws and pull the top off...

next, remove the IDE / SATA controller board on the bottom of the drive. there should be a little back block of plastic with contacts on it... it almost looks like a micro controller.  2 of those contacts will move the actuator... so now we need to find which ones they are.

cut the end off of a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, attach one end into an pm3 player or a computer... then start tapping the wires to contacts until the actuator arm starts to move. on my hard drive, it was the 2 contacts closest to the two edges of the drive. (the row closest to the back of the drive, and the 2 contacts closest to the nearest edge).

Hard drive under control board wiring

now that you know what contacts make the spindle move, you will most likely want to remove the platters.... this makes it easier to get a cone over the actuator arm. just flip the drive over and start cutting away at the platters with some scissors, or gardening sheers, or a knife... just dont hurt yourself.
after you are done with that, you shouldn't have to do any more work to the drive that could break solder connections... so go ahead and solder your contacts.

now for the amp.... i had an old 2.1 speaker system in my closes that i never used... so i took the subwolfer and opened it up... i soldered 2 wires to the contacts that went to the speaker and led those out the side. i then added a button to the wire going to the speaker, so i could turn the speaker on and off.
i could then connect my laptop's audio out to the subwolfer, and then have the sub boost the voltage.

home made audio amp
subwolfer plugged into computer's headphone jack.

home made amp wiring
wires coming out the side carry the boosted audio signal.
now that i have some boosted audio... we can actually hear stuff!

i then just connect the boosted audio to the contact points we identified earlier (i have 3.5mm jack connectors on everything, so i don't have to solder anything else) and bam! some awesome sound is coming out of that hard drive!

the last step is probably the most fun.... different cones make different sounds, so roll up some paper, some card stock, whatever... and place it over the spindle... it will clarify the sound and make it audible. i found that soda cans and plastic cups make the sound clear... however they are hard to keep on.

amp and hard drive speaker with paper cone
the finished product with the paper cone.

here is a you tube video showing off the hard drive speaker... i might remake it, i had a bit of a cold when i made it...


cool_cicler said...

Very interesting tutorial, keep up the good work mate.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

As an audio and computer nerd, I absolutely loved this post! The speaker may not be optimal but this is an awesome side project and a clever idea!

Deso said...

That's a nifty device.

Mike said...

This is very clever, I may use this!

fabio_2007 said...

Nice tutorial, thanks for sharing.

Andy said...

HAH! That's brilliant!

pv said...

haha wow, i wish i had time to do that with these hdd's

Shaw said...

I've seen more impressive things done with a hdd

Give Everything said...

im really trying to figure out who it works...the sound came from the hardrive movement itself?

Hento the loony repairman :D said...

i have a lot of dead drives lying around, im gona get me some 7.1 surround sound!!.. XD

majak said...

nice and iteresting post man:)

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