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Hard Drive Windowing Guide
Page 1 - Introduction, Opening, and Cutting
Author: Phil Lam (Phirewerkz)
Editor: Dan Podhola (WebMasterP)
Date: August 16, 2004
Category: Guide
Options: Printable Version 12 pt Times New Roman 10 pt Times New Roman 12 pt Tahoma 10 pt Tahoma

Hard Drive Windowing Guide

I must first say that this is a very tricky mod to do and requires a lot of time and patience. Exposing a hard drive to the surrounding environment can possibly render it useless if precautions are not taken. People who are still new to modding should not attempt this until they have mastered cutting and windowing. On the other hand, the outcome is very rewarding and the final product looks really cool. Once again, do not attempt this mod if you are not confident in using cutting tools, or can not find a clean, dust-free area. Xtreme Tek is not responsible for any damages inflicted through this guide. Please proceed under your own discretion and caution. Also, the warranty on your hard drive will most likely be void once you open it, since the seal will be broken.

We decided to try this mod with two different hard drives, a Western Digital Quantum 5GB (running WinXP), and a 500MB Fujitsu both which are fairly old and therefore perfect for this experiment. First, both hard drives are sprayed and wiped clean to eliminate any dust on the surface.

Western Digital Quantum
Western Digital Quantum
Fujitsu 500MB
Fujitsu 500MB

Before opening up the drives, we need a clean area preferably free of dust and magnetic interference. Areas with furniture, carpet or drapes were definitely not suitable for this mod. A humid area is also good to have since dust will combine with the moisture and fall to the ground. We finally agreed that the garage (door closed) is a good area, since there is not as much dust flying around. A bathroom would suffice, but we also did the drilling and cutting in the garage as well.

To open the hard drives, screws must be taken off from the top of the drive. In addition, there are torx screws that are fixed to the centre of the platters and circuit board on the top of the drive which are concealed by warranty stickers. These help preserve the integrity of the ball bearings by keeping the platters stable. These warranty stickers were peeled and the screws were removed.

For the next step, a can of compressed air, rubber gloves, grocery bag and shoebox are recommended. First, the shoebox was cleaned with the compressed air. After the hard drive was placed in the shoebox, the drive cover was quickly and carefully removed wearing rubber gloves. Immediately afterwards, the shoebox lid was closed tight and the shoebox placed in the grocery bag. This ensures that the least amount of dust will come in contact with the opened hard drive. Another alternative is to use cling wrap, but i found it kind of hard to do with one pair of hands. [Editor note: while the shoebox did work for Phil, I suggest different container type. More specifically, I would not use something made of paper products, like tupperware.]

Quick shot inside Shoebox
Quick shot inside Shoebox
Drive Cover - Top
Drive Cover - Top
Drive Cover - Bottom
Drive Cover - Bottom

The next part can be varied, as it depends on the overall shape of the hard drive cover, and your own creativity. For any cutting, we recommend that masking tape be layered on the item to be cut. This way, a design can be drawn with a reduced chance of damaging the surface. More importantly, gloves, goggles and a mask should be worn to prevent any bodily harm. We decided to cut it to follow the contour of the circuitry and platters inside.

Drive Cover after Cut
Drive Cover after Cut
Drive Cover with Paintjob
Drive Cover with Paintjob

The hard drive cover can be cut using the equipment of your choice, but we stuck with the handy rotary tool. After cutting along the drawn design, the edges were grinded, and sanded for a cleaner look. To match the actual drive colour (and to hide scratches) the drive cover was removed of masking tape and sprayed with black paint. One problem we saw was that some of the masking tape melted onto the edges, leaving a sticky texture. This problem was solved by spraying WD-40 and wiping around the edges.

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