Con-temporary up-cycle tech-art

Over the years I have replaced a great number og hard drives, usually due to their natural lifespan being exhausted, and I have kept many of the broken ones for unknown reasons (I don’t like throwing away, I see resources where other see trash). No wonder I keep running out of storage space in my office!

Better put them to use

I recently found about 10-15 old drives that I replaced not too long ago, most of them was either the same type or based on the same frame design. I have mostly been loyal to Seagate during my years with computers, and often buying the ones I know has a long lifespan (Barracuda 3TB has been good to me). I also tend to buy them in pairs since I mirror and stripe them with zfs on my linux-server(s). I have about 70TB now, including my backup-server. But that’s not really what I wanted to write about…

Prying open the broken drive, for use as a upcycled art-piece
Prying open the broken drive, for use as a upcycled art-piece

I wanted to write about how awesome these drives look inside! Since the drives I found were already unusable there were no reason not to open them to check out their internal components (opening a drive will destroy it). Besides the arm reading and writing the data its inside contains mostly the actual plates that store the information. And these plates are so very very shiny! A perfect reflection, in a industrial and technological packaging. Not the best for being an actual mirror, but for a nerd like me they are an absolutely awesome art piece.

So I decided I wanted to build a transparent mount for a set of the drives so that I could hang them on my wall. I remember seeing a someone that did this somewhere on the web a few years back. Not a lot of materials are needed either, so it could qualify as a frugal up-cycling project. If you have some old drives, and you can get your hands on some plastic glass (Plexi is one type, a brand, but there are many others) and the small screws needed you should consider doing this too. If this blog-article is not descriptive enough as a how-to, fear not I will develop some learning-content for this some time soon.

The internal parts of the larger drive, not working as storage but great for upcycled art

A simple design

I tried keeping the design as simple as possible since I wanted the additional materials needed to be at the absolute minimum. I needed to buy the screws since they were smaller than everything I had for my computer-hardware. M2.5 is the name of the screws, which indicates both the thickness and thread. The head can be of whatever design you choose, but often they come as a torx shape. Torx often provide a better fit than the typical Phillips cross-head. So if you go for the torx then you will have to get the compatible screwdrivers too, if you don’t already have it. Simple kits are for sale, usually combinations for repairing phones and laptops. Get yourself a kit like that if you like this sort of activities, I haven’t regretted buying my kit for a second.

As you might see from the pictures I even made the wall-mounting brackets from hard-drive parts. The two brackets needed I made from the drive-lids by bending them into shape after I cleaned them thoroughly. They are bent in an angle so that the drives can be pointing a bit downwards when the assembly is mounted high up on a wall. Looks better that way. I will also make a different version without the angle so that it holds the assembly flat to the wall, which I think will be better for a “portrait” shaped version. Of course, I will make them from the same type of drive-lids. Its made from a very tough material, so in addition to being a bit exhausting to work with I also wasted a drill-bit while trying to make the holes needed.

Delicate work

Keeping everything scratch-free and clean is the biggest challenge for this type of project. The inside of the drives are so very clean and shiny (one of the reasons to why it looks so cool) and it wasn’t easy keeping the small plastic-shavings out or avoid getting finger-prints on the reflective drive-plates. Plastic glass like this is also prone to easily scratch and both the drilling and cutting was a difficult tasks to do while trying to keep it pretty. Slow is better, and if you do get melted plastic stuck on the drill-bit I found that drilling fast through some wood managed to remove it.

Cheap parts for this art-project, mostly upcycled
Cheap parts for this art-project, mostly upcycled

It was a fun project, although I wish I was better prepared. It would have been better to not leave the drives exposed while waiting for the screws to arrive by mail, and I should have done a better job at measuring where the holes should go to avoid my mistakes. But there is a first time for everything and the reason I do these projects is so that I will learn so that I eventually can make digital learning content for the subjects to all visitors that want to make the same product without the extra hassle of inventing it themselves.

There will be more of this, and when time is right I will develop interactive and animated learning content on how to make one for yourself. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

By |2018-03-12T11:09:29+02:00September 13th, 2017|Categories: Longread, Product|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Inventor through instinct | Born curious, fascinated by natural complexity - and technology | Natural problem-solver | Inherent need to Create | Perceptual | A creative soul, fundamentally Artistic | Headstrong, mostly | Idealistic, knowingly Dreamy | Engineer, Entrepreneur | Thorough, Responsible, Careful | Concerned