DIY Laser Text Projector Made Using Old Hard Drive

Hard Drive Laser
(Image credit: Ben, Ben Makes Everything)

Let’s face it—SSDs are ruling the market regarding internal storage, but you shouldn’t count traditional hard drives down and out just yet! Today we’ve got an impressive project to share with you from Ben, the mastermind behind  Ben Makes Everything, that puts an old HDD to fun use. With a little tinkering and a lot of patience, he’s created a portable laser text projector.

The executives at Pure Storage predict HDDs will be obsolete by 2028 but clearly they haven’t considered the laser text projecting potential of old hard drives. The unit is battery-powered, lending to its portability, and it even can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. The text messages are visible from a distance greater than 90 feet; just be sure not to shine the light toward your eyes for safety reasons.

Ben created a video detailing the creation process of the project. It took more than one try to get a final version he was satisfied with, but the result was well worth the effort. By the end of the project, he’d settled on using a green laser which is extremely strong and more visible than other laser wavelengths.

The hard drive uses a brushless motor. This rotation is vital to creating the text effect. Ben designed a mirror array from scratch using Fusion 360 that rotates using the HDD motor. An Arduino is thrown into the mix to help control the array. The green laser sports a heat sink and comes with its own driver board that can be used to interpret input signals.

The laser flashes on and off against the mirrors, which create lines. These horizontal lines are used to build the letters, forming the text. Ben explains how the code works in greater detail in the original project video. We highly recommend checking it out to better understand how the laser works to build the text.

If you want to see this amazing hard drive-powered laser text projector in action, check out the original video shared on YouTube. We also recommend following Ben Makes Everything for more cool projects and future creations.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • InvalidError
    Re-inventing the old-school laser printer!
  • Amdlova
    Good idea but how will show to one anyone? Look at this.. times later blind lol