Many people are turning old hard disks into clocks. They disassemble old disk drives and put a clock mechanism behind the mirrored disc platter. They’re using 3½” disks, so they end up with itty bitty little clocks. I wanted something big enough to hang on the wall and retro enough to satisfy my nostalgia for the computers of my youth.
In the 1960s and 70s, mainframes and minicomputers used removable disk packs. Each pack was a stack of several 14” disks. I had the joy of using these disks on a Honeywell 200 computer at my first job.
I bought two old 14” disks via the Internet. I wanted the clock’s numerals to echo the vintage computing theme, so I rendered them in the old Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) font, which was widely recognized as “computer numbers” in the 1970s and which can still be found on checks today. I sent the rendering off to Ponoko to have them laser cut out of black acrylic.
One of the disks had a metal hub in the center, the other didn’t. For the disk with the metal hub, I needed to drill a 5/16” hole to mount the clock mechanism. For the disk without a hub, I needed something to fill the empty space and to hold the clock mechanism. On eBay, I bought a vintage printed circuit board for a Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-11 (an asynchronous multiplexer board, for those who care), drilled a hole for the clock mechanism’s shaft, and glued the disk to it.
The end result is two beautiful clocks worthy of an aging geek with a mid-life crisis. Which do you think looks better? Vote for one or the other below!