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Iconic Memories

Computer hard disk drives are amazing feats of engineering.  Encased in a metal box, several perfectly flat platters spin at 5400 or 7200 revolutions per minute thanks to a powerful spindle motor.  When these drives fail – and they always do – I love taking them apart to get a glimpse of the finely tuned components.  There are also lots of magnets that are worth keeping before tossing the drive out.  Here’s a shot of what it looks like inside of one:


So of course I’m thinking all about what this thing could be reused for.  Why a clock of course!  Since we know precisely how quickly these platters spin, it’s possible to flicker light behind pre-cut shapes in the platter to display all kinds of images.  This phenomenon is called persistence of vision (POV), where multiple images are flickered in quick succession to give the impression of motion.  Sound familiar?  It’s exactly how animation, movies and flipbooks work.  Making this work on a mechanical device is an incredibly challenging task that requires great electrical engineering, programming and fabrication skill.  I have a pile of hard drives in a box just waiting to become the next POV clock.  Fortunately for me, those drives will remain untouched because  I found a very talented maker who was working on a limited run of these cool clocks.