Retro computing enthusiast Matthias Werner has shared his design for a device that recreates the characteristic operational noise of a hard disk drive (HDD).
The HDD Clicker v0.2, brought to our attention by Liliputing, is said to be both nostalgic and useful. Nostalgic for the ambience, and useful for providing audible feedback in sync with data access and transfers using your shiny new SSD (Solid State Disk).
It may be 2022, but there are still PC users out there who are only now enjoying their first delightful taste of NAND flash storage — having previously relied exclusively upon spinning rust storage. However, as with any change, some people — such as Tom's Hardware Managing Editor Matt Safford, who has promised to never buy a hard drive again — may miss aspects of what they had before.
They probably won’t miss the slower access and loading times of HDDs, or the relatively heavy weight and fragility (especially important in a laptop), but they might miss the signature clicks, ticks, and whirs an old HDD emanated when powered up and put to work. There must be some people like this, hence Matthias Werner and his €25 HDD Clicker.
The noisy gadget isn’t primarily targeted at PCs, though. As a retro computing enthusiast, Werner has upgraded various old computers with fast and capacious storage, and in a video explains that the HDD Clicker can add the missing noise to people who have added cool retro solutions to their systems, such as floppy or HDD to flash adaptors. If you watch the video you will see his retro system is an i486, and its IDE HDD has been swapped for a CF adaptor.
Werner’s design might seem rather straightforward by people experienced in putting circuit boards together and dabbling in occasional soldering tasks. At the heart of the HDD Clicker is a circuit board powered by an ATTiny microcontroller. This takes its input from your computer’s HDD activity LED pin, as well as a modicum of power from a Molex connector. Lastly, the microcontroller feeds audio in sync with drive activity to a built-in piezo speaker. Thus, it doesn’t need a driver, or any software, so it should work as soon as the computer is powered up — before and after any OS is loaded.
Though the device might be useful, we aren’t that sure whether the sound is a very accurate representation of an HDD and therefore isn't great for nostalgia in its present form. What do readers think? Checking the forums, v0.2 is of course an early version number — perhaps fair to characterize as a work in progress. Various forum users have asked for more / different sounds, so we could see the project expand or branch in the future.