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How to Clean, Upgrade, Repair, Mod, Disassemble a Hard Disk Drive

Here is a collection of free do-it-yourself take apart instructions, disassembly pictures, upgrade and repair manuals, data recovery instructions , as well as modding and cleaning tutorials for computer hard disk drives - HDDs. Guides for other storage devices: USB sticks, SD/MMC-Cards, Solid-State-Disks - SSDs will follow soon. If you have written a guide yourself (or if you know of tips and tricks not mentioned here), please submit a new entry.

Areal A130 2.5-Inch [external link]How to use a real hard drive as an IDE activity indicator showing the random head movement, in sync with the harddrive's activity LED.
Bryant-Excello Control Data Corporation 6603 Disk File Controller (1967) [external link]Hard drive coffee table built from an original 26 inch diameter hard drive platter from an early storage device.
Hewlett-Packard N.N. 120MB [archived link]How hardcore a modder are you? How to open a hard drive and add a plexi glas window to the case.
Hitachi TravelStar HTS548040M3AT00 40GB [external link]Cracking open a laptop hard drive: explore this image gallery to see how one of the world's most popular mobile hard disks is put together to power countless laptops. Get a new perspective on the main component powering all those notebooks you see the next time you frequent the local coffeehouse.
IBM 8232220 [external link]Photos of a 80s hard disk assembly (HDA).
IBM TravelStar [external link]Some pictures from a laptop hard drive autopsy.
IBM TravelStar [external link]Inside 2.5-Inch laptop hard drives - drive mounts and internal components.
Maxtor N.N. [external link]Hard drive recovery from a full stop. Just the steps taken to get a harddrive back up from 0 RPM and no bios detection, to 7200 RPM in a few easy steps, explaining how to swap a broken controller.
Maxtor N.N. [external link]How to fix a broken HDD, which didn't power on. Re-soldering a broken transistor.
Maxtor d540x-4k020h1 20GB [external link]Do it yourself hard disk repair: demonstration of a method for replacing the read / write head from a hard disk.
Maxtor 20MB [external link]Hard drive speaker. A good audiophile should be able to make anything play music! Time to recycle that old hard drive paperweight!
Maxtor N.N. 3.5-Inch (2001) [external link]Build a hard drive storage box. A unique storage space for your small parts like screws and jumpers. The goal is to make the finished box look exactly like a real hard drive.
Maxtor 5T010H1 10GB 3.5-Inch (2001) [external link]Attach a window to your hard drive or convert your hard drive to a "window drive" or build a cool-as-hell hard drive.
Maxtor 5GB [external link]VW hard drive window mod.
Maxtor N.N. [external link]A step-by-step HDD Window modding HOWTO (in German).
Maxtor 80GB 7200RPM 3.5'' IDE [external link]Hard Drive Modding: How to void your warranty in 20 minutes or less by adding a transparent cover made from Lexan.
Quantum N.N. [external link]How to dremel a Bio-Hazard logo into the HDD lid (in German).
Quantum N.N. [external link]DIY Laser-Project Tutorial: how to build a 2D-Laser-Osczilloscope from an old HDD, which can beam music pulses on a wall (in German, video available).
Quantum FireBall EX [external link]An illustrated take apart HOWTO.
Quantum Maverick 540MB [external link]Lit Hard Drive Window. This tutorial will take you through the steps so that you can mod your own hard drive and make it look real slick for those LAN-Parties.
Quantum N.N. [external link]From the Not So Serious Department: Here are some tips to help computer enthusiasts with problems that plague many computer users: a whining hard drive. Nothing is more annoying than a whining hard drive, except for maybe a whining co-worker, so if you don't need your hard drive to drown out your co-worker then follow the steps below. The solution: take apart the HDD completeley and use plenty of grease to cover the platters and the spindle to make the drive working smoothly again.
Seagate RS-232 Adapter Schematic [external link]This is an adapter which allows you to connect a Seagate drive to the COM port, allowing to access TMOS using any terminal program.
SeaGate Barracuda ATA IV ST380021A 80GB [external link]This is the story of opening and ressurrecting a fritzed hard disk drive by swapping the broken logic board.
SeaGate Medalist 3210 [external link]Pulling apart a desktop hard drive to get rare earth magnets.
Seagate Medalist ST33232A [external link]How to make the sparks fly. This is a not-so-serious project for all the modders out there with broken HDD(s). Use some of your dead HDDs lying around and turn it into a grinder, by opening the case at attaching a piece of sandpaper to the platter.
Seagate Medalist ST34313A 4.3GB [external link]Hardware destruction: in this episode, a hard drive will be destroyed. The victim will not be seen at work, look how to break it and see what's inside. And remember, hard drives are very fragile so don't try this at home.
Toshiba MK6411MAT 2.5-Inch 6495MB IDEA short disassembly guide.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 2850 850MB 3.5-Inch [external link]A plexi glass window mod.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 21600 (1996) [external link]How to void the warranty and performing an elusive hard drive window mod.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 22000 [external link]This tutorial explains how to remove the cover from a (broken) hard drive and dremel a window into the cover (in German).
Western-Digital WD Caviar 24300 [external link]This guide explains how to disassembly the hard drive.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 31200 1281.9 MB [external link]Clear hard drive mod.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 32500 2550MB [external link]When you pick up junk computers, you get a lot of parts that you can't really use, but are hard to throw out. Small hard drives are the most difficult thing to get rid of. When they still work you keep them around thinking someday you might need just 2 more gigabytes. When you find one that is broken, you still want to do something with it. They look so interesting inside, mostly because its the type of thing you are not supposed to open. So make a clock out of an old broken hard drive.
Western-Digital WD Caviar 33100 3GB (1997) [external link]Hard Drive Window: doing the impossible, opening a hard drive and install a clear acrylic window.
Western-Digital WD Caviar N.N. [external link]This is a how-to on making a simple wind chime and a keychain out of hard drive components. It also tells you how to open up a hard drive.
N.N. [external link]How to build a lockpick device by using computer parts, re-using an old hard disk drive.
N.N. [external link]Using old HD Magnets to boost fuel efficiency and clean water? Once out of service, hard disks are taken to have a remaining value similar to that of a brick. If you have one disk that you can take apart, you may salvage some powerful magnets. Here is how and what you can do with them. Would you have thought your magnets can do work similar to a $90 fuel-saver or a $300 device sold for water treatment? With surplus magnets, such experimentation costs very little, but if you invest into the devices, you may be biased to justify the expense.
N.N. [external link]Have an old hard drive that no longer works? As long as it still spins up chances are you could build a clock out of your old hard drive! You will need some electronic knowledge, some common electronic components and a bit of patience. Videos of the clock in action available.
N.N. [external link]A normal hard drive clock would be using the disc as background plus the regular hands for hours and minutes, or you could lift the lid of the hard drive and drill a hole all the way through the engine and all and then mount the regular hands. Here is wall clock that only shows pieces from hard drives, no plastic hands there.
N.N. [external link]Anatomy of a Hard Disk Drive: here is a disassembled a hard drive to show you the main components you will find on a hard drive. Hard drives have two kinds of components: internal and external. External components are located on a printed circuit board called logic board while internal components are located in a sealed chamber called HDA or Hard Drive Assembly.
N.N. [external link]Hard Drive Clock: how to drilling through the center of a defunct 10MB (yes, they were once rated in megabytes, not gigabytes) hard drive.
N.N. [external link]The idea is: take a defect Harddisk. Modify the read/write head interface and it's bearing, add a standard stereo jack: Voilą you have a Harddisk Speaker.
N.N. [external link]Head Stack Replacement: Questions and Answers. When a drive starts clicking or makes raspy or hissing noises in 70% cases it means a "dead" head or preamplifier. In this case a surgery - head stack replacement or preamplifier re-soldering is needed.
N.N. [external link]This video shows the inside of a hard drive at work. Simple operations performed by a hard drive with no cover, so that you can see what it looks like inside. This experiment was performed on an old hard drive, do not try this with newer expensive hard drives, it is a bit risky.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Using only PC spare parts (those that you never throw away, just in the case...) e.g. an old defective hard disk you can make a custom speaker, it already has all the parts we need, a magnet and a coil.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Hard-Disk Sound System: why pay many $$$ for the latest speaker system? You can make something that looks way cooler for the price of a DIY amplifier and some HDDs out of a dumpster. It doesn't sound quite as good but who cares!
Misc. HDDs [external link]Did you know you could build a speaker out of your old hard drive? Well as a matter of fact, a harddrive uses the same technology for its arm as a traditional loudspeaker. Just apply the right waveform and it will produce sound.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Harddisks have a pair off very strong magnets in it, Unfortunately, they are placed on a metal plate for fixing them in the drive. It's very hard to remove them from the metal without breaking the magnet. But if you know the trick, it's very easy.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Hard drive platter clock. After ripping some ancient hard drives apart to get the magnets out there have been some cool looking platter stacks left, which can be used to build a unique clock.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Here's a project that uses some of those dead hard drives you've got lying around: build a 15,000 RPM Tesla Turbine using hard drive platters. In the Tesla Turbine, air, steam, oil, or any other fluid is injected at the edge of a series of smooth parallel disks. The fluid spirals inwards and is exhausted through ventilation ports near the center of the disks.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Hard Drive Laser FX: how to build a laser oscilloscope using two old hard drives to give horizontal and vertical beams .
Misc. HDDs [external link]Belt buckle made from a dard drive disk platter.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Hard Drive Dominoes: you can study the domino effect with some dusty old hard drives.
Misc. HDDs [external link]Hard-Disc Clock: how to turn the parts of a HDD into a clock. The arms move to show the minutes and platter indicates the hour (in German).
Misc. HDDs [external link]Low RPM alternator for small wind/water power applications tests with surplus hard drive magnets.
Misc. HDDs [external link]From the Not So Serious Department: Hardcore Data Recovery: will double boiling your drive really help? When you heat something up, it expands, so in theory, if the drive was heated, it should have the same effect.
Project: Hard Drive PC [external link]How to build a custom Personal Computer case made of some dead hard drives.
HDD Eyez [external link]ON/OFF blinking hard-drive LED can get quite annoying sometimes or it doesn't seem to fit the overall theme of the case or a project. Why not make it smoothly fade in and out when there is some HDD activity? These following steps will show you how to do just that easily and with only small amount of money. In short: We receive pulses from motherboard's HDD LED header. We get the pulses by removing the wire that goes to the original HDD LED and replace it with our own wire that leads to our circuit.
Oil HDD [external link]This tutorial shows how to stuff a HHD in oil (in German).


Oric IDE Interface [external link]This is an initial (and very sketchy) design for an IDE interface for Oric computers.
IDE and S-ATA Hard Disk Drive Controllers [external link]The hard disk is managed by a controller, both must be in the same standard. With an IDE controller you can install two hard drives, a master and a slave via a cable in tablecloth.
IBM DeathStar and Other Sounds [external link]This page is dedicated to the unspeakably cruelty of tortured and dying harddisks. At least it provides some satisfaction if you can hear the thing that shredded your data die. In other words: have fun while listening to broken (or almost broken) disks.
N.N. [external link]Troubleshooting ATA/IDE Hard Disks.
H.D.D. Bicolour Activity Indicator [external link]Tired of seeing that HDD LED always shining? Here is something with more eye candy. Use a single bicolour LED that would change its colour depending on HDD activity. The circuit is very easy and cheap to do, it doesn't require too much soldering, so any person with basic technical knowledge will be able to do it without any trouble.
Hard Disk Drive Utilization Meters [external link]The DIY style HDD meter guide has two different sections: analogic meter and digital meter. Both uses the same principle: taking the signal from the HDD LED indicator and having a scale of its on/off ratio showed visually.
HDD Motor [external link]Motors featured in HDDs are usually syncronous motors. Here is a circuit which controls the inductors of such motors (in German).
HDD Clock with LCD Touchscreen Controller [external link]An analog clock created from an old hard drive and some LEDs, and an LCD touchscreen which acts both as a synchronized digital clock and a controller for setting the time.
My Hard Drive Died - WhitePaper [external link]When you absolutely, positively need your data back and don't have time or money to pay a professional data recovery service: here is a whitepaper by Scott A. Moulton which explains all the neccessary steps to get the data back from a damaged media. Additionally a survey of matching serial numbers on hard drives is provided. This documentation explains on how each hard drive needs to be matched for a working donor drive.
Hard Drive Recovery Part 1 [external link]Rumours and facts about hard disk drive recovery. Practical tips and tricks from Scott A. Moulton for home data recovery without professional service [video].

Hard Drives in Laptops, Notebooks & Portable Media Players

See Repair4Laptop for repair instructions for hard disks used in laptops and notebooks [external link]. At Repair4Player there are some guides for modding HDDs featured in portable video and audio players [external link].


· Linux, Laptops, PDAs

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© Werner Heuser 2005-2011 · · last change Sun Aug 8 2010