hard drive window 2

Last year I decided to put a window in a hard drive, and it got a lot of attention. Certainly the questions that were asked the most were “Why?” “How?” and “Does it still work?”

The last question was the easiest. It works fine. The first question was more difficult. I did this mod largely to refute the commonly held perception that it could not be done. (Sort of a Mt. Everest thing, I suppose.) Everyone knows that getting little speck of dust inside can ruin a hard drive, and that they’re built in clean rooms, and certain disaster would befall anyone who opened one (at least disaster would befall the drive). This is one widely held belief I felt like challenging.

The second question I took my best stab at answering with several paragraphs of text describing how the mod was done. But my pictures from the first drive were lost. So I’m pleased to share with you my newly completed walkthrough with pictures.

I know you’re eager to get started, but I’d like to answer a couple of questions up front. Yes, this is the drive you may have seen in PC Answers magazine. In this writeup you’ll get much more in-depth information about how this was done, and more pictures. This drive will be the centerpiece of my custom acrylic cube case.

Now, on with the show….

unmodified hard drive

This is the unmodified hard drive, a Western Digital 3 GB drive (Caviar 33100) made in 1997. Any warranty is long since expired. The label is affixed to a metal plate that is attached to the upper drive housing with an adhesive. Seven Torx-type screws (one is beneath the label) secure the upper housing to the lower housing. The first step is to remove the metal plate from the top drive housing so the housing can be cut.

label plate removed, exposing hidden screws

To remove the plate, I softened the adhesive by warming it slightly using a micro torch, then pried it off using a small flat blade screwdriver. A piece of electrical tape protected part of the housing from being scuffed while prying.

2mm flat blade filled in nicely for the proper Torx bit

I didn’t have the appropriate screwdriver bit, so I used a 2mm flat blade screwdriver and a little extra pressure to remove these screws from the housing.

I got your warranty right here…

The upper and lower drive housings were joined by a tape seal printed with a message: “Warranty void if removed.” Obviously, that had to be removed, and if I had any hopes of warranty service, they vanished after this step.

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