Computer Hard Drive Clock

2 Materials
2 Hours

If you've ever scratched your head and wondered what you can do with old computer parts, this is the tutorial for you! We took an old computer apart and upcycled the hard drive into a one-of-a-kind clock!
Before you can take apart a hard drive, it’s good to know the name of the parts. If you get stuck, refer back to this diagram. Not marked below is the motor which is hidden within the spindle hub.
computer hard drive clock
Don’t forget to wipe the drive clean of data before upcycling it. Apart from the hard drive, you'll need safety goggles, torx bits, a screw gun, punch, vise, drill bits, hammer and clock kit.
computer hard drive clock
If you’re buying eye protection for this project, choose the pair that provides you with a full seal around the face. The top pair of goggles shown below is is better for this project (as compared to the one underneath it) because they’ll prevent flying bits of metal from all angles from reaching your eyes).
computer hard drive clock
I used a clock mechanism that I salvaged from a clock I got for free at a garage sale. If you have to buy a kit, get one that has a 3/4″ shaft and short clock arms (like the one shown above). If you’re upcyling one  with long arms, you can probably still use it but will have to cut the arms to fit within the platter.

Torx bits are made for a screw head that is shaped like a 6-point star. I used a #8 Torx bit. I found that the #8 worked for every screw in this particular hard drive, but I have had instances where I needed a smaller bit too (i.e. for the motor).
computer hard drive clock
Salvage the hard drive from an old computer:
computer hard drive clock
Start by removing the circuit board and membrane on the back to clean it up:
computer hard drive clock
Turn the hard drive over and remove the screws from the front of the case.
computer hard drive clock
If you find that you can’t remove the front plate, it could be because there are at least one or more screws hiding underneath the label. You can feel for it and use an X-acto knife to score an ‘X’ to cut it open.
computer hard drive clock
Open the case to reveal the shiny mirror-like platter. Remove all the screws around the spindle (there were six). Save the screws for later; you’ll need them when you reassemble.
computer hard drive clock
Remove the collar and ring which will free up the platter and set them aside for later also.
computer hard drive clock
Just a few turns to the left and the actuator arm popped up enough that the platter could slide out.
computer hard drive clock
With the screw loosened, slide the platter out from the back side. By the way, when you’re handling the platter, try not to get finger prints on the shiny surface. If you do, it’s a pain to clean them off. Hold the platter on the edges.
computer hard drive clock
The motor has to be removed next and then drilled out to accept the clock mechanism. I'm afraid this is a lengthy post and we're at the 15 picture limit so for the rest of the step-by-step photos and instructions, please head to our blog (linked under this post where you see our logo).
computer hard drive clock
If you like, you can add clock numbers onto the face, but I prefer it just the way it is. You can either hang your clock on the wall using the tab on the clock mechanism, or add a bracket so it can sit on a desk.
computer hard drive clock
We hope you enjoyed this project! For more upcycle projects, you can follow us here on Hometalk and/or subscribe to Birdz of a Feather by visiting our site (link at the end of this post). You can also follow us on:


Suggested materials:

  • Clock mechanism  (Upcycled or purchased)
  • Torx bits  (Hardware store)
Birdz of a Feather

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Hol27263457
    on Jul 15, 2018

    I've tried this with 2 different hard drives. On both drives, there is one screw on the collar that will not come loose. Both have stripped. The other 5 screws came out relatively easy. Any ideas?

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Jul 16, 2018

      I've run into the exact same situation with that one last screw that wouldn't come loose on the hard drive. Try a drop of penetrating oil and let it sit 15 minutes. I was able to get it out with a slightly larger tip and a lot of downward pressure as I turned the screw driver. This comment box won't allow me to attach a website address, but also search 'How to remove a stripped screw' on Google. The site 'wikiHow' has some really good suggestions.

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