Hard drive clock

2009/11/05 - projects

The Idea

I found a tutorial online of how to make a clock out of a hard drive that still spins up but has problems with reads and writes; even a click of death hard drive would work for this project. Basically it works by cutting a slit in the platter, then flashing lights behind the platter very quickly. Whatever the color is when the slit passes by is the color that your eyes see. So you can create very interesting radial designs.

Some problems

My original plan was to use an MSP 430 that we had been programming all semester long to control the light blinking. In theory this would have worked just fine, but then I realized the speed of the chip may not be fast enough to blink the lights at an even increment with the 7200 RPM hard drive platter. I think I determined the chip only had a mere 16 cycles to switch the colors of the 3 different sets of lights. The light strip that was to be used requires 9 V on each color. There are 3 colors; red, blue, and green, just like a computer monitor. This poses another problem; how to get a 3 V maximum chip to power a 9 V minimum strip of lights? Would a transistor be fast enough to switch the lights 7200 x 360 times per second? Would a transistor that has the ability to support 9 V be that fast?

Abandonment issues

I finally figured that I did not currently have the electrical engineering expertise to complete this project within the timeframe that I had originally planned. Maybe with some more EE classes and a greater understanding of the PIC chip used in the original HD Clock design I could eventually return to this project. But until then it has been tossed with about a dozen torn apart hard drives into the abandoned projects bucket.

The original source for building a hard drive clock

MSP 430 from TI

Abandoned Projects
hard drive
MSP 430