The other day I decided to try my hand at making a clear plexiglass top for one of my old hard drives. Because that went so well, I figured I'd take it a step further and construct a plexiglass enclosure for it. I spent a whole day on this and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.
It didn't occur to me to take pictures of the hard drive modding, but it was pretty simple. I performed it on an 80GB IDE Hitachi. I removed the screws that secured the metal cover of the hard drive and removed the cover. I immediately sealed the hard drive in a ziplock bag to protect it. Constructing the plexiglass top was simply a matter of tracing the outline of the metal cover onto a sheet of 1/8" plexi. Any thicker and I would have had to sink the screws (correct term...?). After that I clamped the metal cover to the sheet of plexi and used it as a guide to drill the screw holes.
Next came the task of connecting the hard drive to a computer. I had parts lying around and managed to scrape up an IDE usb controller as well as some hard drive heatsinks. As far as power went, I had to come up with something on my own. I found an ac adapter that provided 12v @ a max of 2A. Overkill, but it sufficed.
I need to stress that this was a one-day project. I used what I had and I made it work. Ideally, I would have done this with a SATA hard drive and connected it to a computer with a SATA --> ESATA cable, but I didn't have any of those.
As you know, the hard drive is powered off a 4-pin molex connector, which carries 12v, 5v, and two grounds. I constructed a voltage regulator circuit with a LM317T
voltage regulator to provide the necessary 5v for the hard drive, the usb controller, and the LEDS.
Here is the newly modded hard drive being tested. You can see on the breadboard the voltage circuit that I constructed and the green PCB is the usb controller. The controller had a connection for a hdd activity light which I made use of.
Here I am trying to figure out how everything will be laid out in the enclosure, furnished completely from 1/8" plexi.
Here you can see what will be connected to the hard drive
This is my completed power circuit. I fastened not one, but two small heatsinks to the voltage regulator but it still got quite warm, so I decided to include a small fan, which works very well at keeping it cool.
This is everything being final tested. Two red LEDS indicate hdd activity while the blue and green are just for show.
Building the box was the most time consuming part of this project. Out of impatience I used hot glue to put everything together, except for the top panel, which is secured with nuts.
I cut the plexi with a dremel. This went much more easily than expected, perhaps because I'm used to working with 1/4" plexi. The dremel cut the plexi like butter on fairly high speed with the standard cutting discs. There was some melting as well as broken discs but in the end it went faster than cutting on low speed. I cleaned up all the cuts by hand with 120 grit sandpaper.