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.

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.

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).

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).

Salvage the hard drive from an old computer:

Start by removing the circuit board and membrane on the back to clean it up:

Turn the hard drive over and remove the screws from the front of the case.

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.

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.

Remove the collar and ring which will free up the platter and set them aside for later also.

Just a few turns to the left and the actuator arm popped up enough that the platter could slide out.

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.

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).

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.

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Suggested materials:

  • Clock mechanism   (Upcycled or purchased)
  • Torx bits   (Hardware store)

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

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  1 question
  • Hol27263457 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?


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