The Pegboard Computer: Part Deux
The Visible Hard Drive Project

Part1 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7


     Before I get to the Hard Drives, let me tell you all about the other addition to the pegboard: the keyboard. I decided to head back to the used parts store and pick up a keyboard to dismantle. I have come to really enjoy the lack of cases on this computer, I don't have to clean up other people's um, stuff, from the side of the cases. This held true with the keyboard which must have had labels galore before I got it. Anyway, I unscrewed about six screws, undid a few clips and presto! That's all there was to it! I tried removing the aluminum/cardboard shield from the back, but the circuit board would probably damage something with its pointy solder... The only circuits that show now are the LEDs for the various locks and a 2 (two, dos, deux, zwei, due, dois) inch long chip with few other components scattered around it. Not the most exciting part on the board, but it looks nice hanging there.

The pegboard's keyboard. Also taken apart


     Okay, on to the Visible Hard Drive Product. I decided to do this while I was staring at the PbC watching the floppy drive spin. It hit me that HDDs have read\write heads that would be even cooler to watch. So, like a devoted computer tech, I spend $17 on three HDDs of assorted sizes (125, 245, 210). They aren't much, but then again, I might end up dismembering them by accident... I finally get home and have a few cold fishsticks (I was an hour late for dinner, they aren't as bad as you'd think that way). I then set to work with my new toys. First thing I realize is that it's gonna be really hard to get two drives on the board with one ribbon cable. I also realize that I have no idea what the jumper settings are. (Be kinda bad if everything thinks it's the master drive) And the last realization: only two drives have jumper pins and of the two, one has a configuration that would be quite hard to "machine" correctly. So, I'm down to one finalist! That was a bit too quick. This should be hard and frustrating... Hrm... I finally get over my disappointment and continue on the project.

     I tested all three HDDs and after a bit of trial and error with the bios settings I get the two candidates for my delicate surgery working. Just my luck, the 125MB HDD only works as a master and I have to disconnect everything else to use it. I do manage to get the 245 working as a slave on IDE 0 with the other HDD (not with the CD-ROM). Anyway, on to the fun stuff. I take the biggest static bag I have, place the 125 in there and unscrew the top. After removing the lid, I pressurized the bag through a highly technical process of folding the end over and over until it puffed up (keeping anything from touching the HDD platters). Using a Craftsman rotary tool to cut the top of the HDD case, I quickly cover myself with aluminum dust. I then try cutting through some 1/4 inch thick acetate like plastic with it. Let me tell you something, whatever this stuff is, they must make fishing line out of it. I was immediately inundated with a really long thread that wrapped around everything and smelled awfully acrid. So, I changed my strategy to using a vice and my hand.

The DOS prompt from the first
VHD boot.


     From here I took the whole set into the basement and wiped it off very carefully. I then repeated with a fine cloth to pick up any paper towel lint. Then, using duct tape (Man's best friend) I secured the cleaned plastic to the HDD case (which has been screwed back together). After plugging it all in and admiring m work, I hit the power switch. Nothing happened. I then plugged the power in and hit the switch again. Nothing again. I then remember having unplugged the computer at the surge protector (I needed the plug elsewhere). So, now I get everything powered and hit the switch again. IT LIVES!!! I can't see the heads through the new window, but it definitely spins up! It even continues on to boot up all the way! The test is a success. Now to try it on the bigger drive. I plan a bigger window, so I can watch the reader arm go back and forth. Again, I cut the hole in the lid, and break off some plastic. Only after I get inside (from garage) do I notice the red splatter on one piece of plastic. Hm, that wasn't there before. So, I check out my finger to find a knuckle has been skinned. So, after a quick detour to the bathroom for some hydrogen peroxide, I make my way down the the basement with a different piece of plastic. After mounting this one the same as the last, I plug it in along with the master drive and hit the power. %$@%$#@%$@%$@%$#%!!!!!!! STUPID POWER!!! I counted to ten, took a deep breath and hit the power again. IT LIVES AGAIN!!! And this time I get to watch the arm flying back and forth. It looks kinda like a stop motion animation.

On top of CD-ROM.

Another pic

Arm highlighted in red.


     I ended up mounting it on top of the CD-ROM with Velcro and the window facing outward (of course). Here I am now, typing this and watching the arm fly around while I copy files back and forth and back and forth and back.....and......forth........and...........

The almost updated PbC.
     The next day, I decided that just having the slaved HDD be endowed with a window wasn't the best I could do (that, and the hole in the top of the slaved drive wasn't quite big enough). So, now with the knowledge that I can make the windows work, I set out to put a hole in the master/primary drive. I pulled the drive down, and lo and behold, it only required a phillips screwdriver to remove the top (not a small torx head like most)! I was lulled into a false sense of security by the ease of the lid's removal. The cutting of the window turns out to be the hardest of them all. I ended up using 4.5 cutting discs for the rotary tool just to make a 3" x 2" window. It was amazing to watch the carbon fiber disc shrink so rapidly! On the plus side, the toughness of the lid helped keep the cut very straight. It seemed like I was cutting through titanium or something and I had to move very slowly to avoid snapping the disc into tiny little pieces (which happened once). After cutting the hole (which had scorch marks like it was cut with a torch), I broke off another piece of plastic. This time I used a fairly flat hammer to snap the plastic in half along the top of the vice. No bloody knuckles this time...

The Primary Drive with aWindow


     I assembled it just like any other HDD with a window and remounted it on the board. With the power in, I turn it on and... Another success! It spins away happily and boots up. After a scan disk, the drive gets a clean bill of health. So, now I have a a PbC with two see-through HDDs and wires hanging all over the place. Other than exposing the power supply (probably a bad idea) and taking apart the CD-ROM (which I am thinking about) I don't think this thing can get much more exposed. I suppose I could try and mount the PCI cards elswhere and try to wire them to the motherboard...

Time passes....

Two Views of the Next to Newest Versions of the PbC

     The next day I decided to finish my hole cutting frenzy with the CD-ROM. I cut a rather large hold just behind the laser (but on top). The thick steel of the case did go through cut away discs like crazy, but at the end it was a good hole. I was a little dissapointed with having to have the window on the top and then having to mount the CD-ROM facing upwards, so I disemboweled the thing and let its card hang down by it's wires. This way I have something neat to look at... Okay, the only thing left to dismember is the floppy drive, so maybe I shall vent my wrath upon that next, except that it has placated me by already having a visible moving part. So, this is the end of the improvements.

     You can see proof of the HDD working HERE (or at least you could if I had not taken it down for bandwidth reasons). It was 70sec of hard drive fun! You could have watched it spin up and read during its boot up sequence. The file was rather large (a little over 16MB in MPEG format), so you better leave some time to download it. Don't let it stream from the net! The guys hosting me probably wouldn't appreciate it, though it is a little moot now.


Yet another part:
On to PbC Cubed


The side view

Um, another side view...

Top view

The Final Version???

Part1 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7


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