External Hard Drive Teardown by Manako


It started like this.1original








The small star problem: the star-shaped drills in VFL were all too large for these stars.3small-star-problem








So I drilled through the screws… until the bit broke off.

And used a vise grip unsuccessfully… until Chris gave me his star-shaped screwdrivers. His stars were the perfect size!


The top finally came off!

Then I unscrewed everything I could get my fingers on like this piece.

and these discs.

Then, it was time for the other side.  It became obvious that whoever designed this harddrive really didn’t want me to tear it open.  S/He used 4 different sizes of screws to attach the circuit board to the base board.


But I did it anyway.17a_theotherside2








This side had many films.  Like this one.

And this.

And this.  The black board must not have wanted to touch the green one.  Who can blame it?  The green board is spiky and full of circuits.

Underneath all the pieces, discs and films, the black baseboard showed its very peculiar self.  It had a cylinder that turned on one side, but on the other, remained still.

It looked like the cylinder was riveted in a rotating core.  The lip of its rivet was sticking out of the board.  So I decided to file it away to set the cylinder free.

But filing was not enough to set the cylinder free.  So I drilled through the rivet  (without breaking the bit this time!)

When I set the cylinder free.  It showed me a piece that it had been securing inside: a ring of copper wires that looked electromagnetic.24it-came-off








To take this unexpected treasure off of the board, I hammered through its core, hoping that by removing the core, it would let me take the ring.25hammerit








But no matter how many times I hammered, the core wouldn’t move.  So I dremmeled through the whole board.  26dremmelit








And finally got the ring off!

Tools Used:  Drill, vise grip, screw driver, file, hammer, magnifier, plier, file, drimmel

2 Design Elements:  I love/hated that the designer of this hard drive used so many rivets to connect pieces vertically.  The rivets in the cylindrical core was incredible; there was not even a sliver of space between each piece to let me ply it open.  While they made it frustrating for me to tear everything down, the whole process made me appreciate the precision involved in manufacturing this product.

Also, there was a stark difference between between the two side of the board in terms of protection.  While the side of the circuit protected it by layering multiple films between the circuit and the board, the other side prevented particles from entering the device.  The rubber lining on the cover sealed it onto the board, making it impossible for dust to enter it.  I was surprised that nothing similar was on the circuit side.  Aren’t circuits at risk from dust also?



2 thoughts on “External Hard Drive Teardown by Manako”

  1. Cool exploration, Manako! So many little pieces and a fun mix of functions! I think that plate in the right of the last picture is probably stamped from a flat sheet, what do you think? Please append your post with the last item from the assignment: “Select two design elements that interest you and describe why you think the designer made it that way”

    Just a programming note: Going forward please don’t upload videos directly to the blog– use a sharing site like vimeo, instagram, or youtube instead. Although for these quick videos, I think animated GIFs would also be appropriate! There are various apps that create GIFs from video.

  2. Nice to see it all come together. I know you had a huge struggle with the blind-rivets and the press-fittings but keep in mind, this is new for you AND those means of joinery are supposed to not be taken apart 🙂

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