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Double-Sided HDD Actuator Arm Pendant

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By ChimeraDragonfang   |   Watch
Published: April 24, 2018
© 2018 - 2020 ChimeraDragonfang
WORD TIME

So, yes, another necklace pendant made out of old computer bits. I have... rather a lot of those lying around, because one of my friends and regular partner-in-makerspace-projects is a sysadmin at the university and thus has a near endless supply of trashed harddisks and other defunct electronic hardware (got some really nice 20mm thick solid wood planks and >1m long pieces of 5mm sheet steel for free by tearing down a discarded server rack shipping crate).

I will definitely be making more pieces similar to the above, in different colours and other variations, if for no other reason than to use up the frankly ridiculous amount of HDD actuator arms (and platter retaining discs, and any other part I think looks cool, which is most of them) I have taking up space in my room/at the makerspace.

Anyway, on to this piece in particular. It measures 50mm long (incl. the jump-ring bail), ~17mm at the widest part, and ~11mm at the thickest part. The weight will have to wait until I remember to bring this thing to work with me, where there is a scale precise enough to get a read on it. It's not too heavy, though; aluminum is a light metal, and the stones aren't that big.

The jump-ring bail is soldered shut for extra durability/security. Lead-free solder, of course. It's the only kind I use in my work.

The two stones are hawk's eye (AKA blue tiger eye) and red tiger's eye. They are epoxied back-to-back in the hole through the actuator arm. I spent several minutes digging through the box of cabochons to find the best fit (the guy who runs the store has started giving me random discounts on my purchases because I'm in there so often; it's great), and opted for two different colours in a reversible pendant for more outfit colour coordination possibilities.

Static images don't properly convey the chatoyance of the stones, so have some GIFs:
sta.sh/014jow1lhvsl sta.sh/01gqwkm6wvt6
(IDK why they're not showing up; I guess I can't post GIFs here? For some reason? Just gotta clickety the linkies, I suppose. :shrug:

Time Spent: Maybe like an hour, total? Prying off and cleaning up after the big plastic bits stuck on the bottom end took the longest. I didn't do careful sanding and buffing because the softness of aluminum means it easily picks up dings and scratches, and if it sees use as a necklace pendant, depending on chain length, it might get scuffed up rather a lot.

Then I spent probably anywhere between fifteen and thirty minutes photographing the damn thing before I got enough shots I was happy with. Took close to 300 photos, easy. Used what you see above.

Tools & Materials: aluminum head stack assembly actuator arm from a computer harddisk, red tiger's eye cabochon, hawk's eye cabochon, clear epoxy, belt sander, metal files, sandpaper, dental picks, one large jump-ring, low-temp silver solder, paste flux, soldering iron.



It is for sale. 150kr, plus shipping. Note me if interested.
Image size
4950x2050px 14.34 MB
Comments21
anonymous's avatar
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ugnip's avatar
ugnipHobbyist General Artist
Such a nice idea, using old computer parts for making jewelery :)
Great for nerds :D
I like the patterning of the metal and also the stones fit very well.

Unfortunately I find the photos a bit dark, 
not sure if a change in background colour would help or just more light.

But the piece itself is very cool :)
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
I have so many computer parts. So many.

I had a piece of black fabric handy, so that's what I used. Also I'm a fan of strong contrasts but I get that not everyone feels the same way. Next time maybe I'll try out something colourful for the background and see how it goes. With these pieces it's always a bit fiddly getting enough light at the right angle to show all the details while not washing out the image with excessive glare. Most of the time my light source is my single desk lamp and sometimes also a not-really-ideal camera flash, but now that we're properly into spring where I live, and it isn't overcast and rainy all the time, I can use actual sunlight, booyah for illumination for the next few months.

Probably a light box would help a lot for the photography, but building one of those is waaay down on my list of projects.
ugnip's avatar
ugnipHobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I know that problems with light :o
Always struggling myself.
But sunlight might help ;)
BellaGBear's avatar
BellaGBearStudent Artisan Crafter
Altough most of the computer talk went right past me, I do love the look of these things and the fact you are recycling! They look very sci-fi, which is always a good thing :) Also the colour of the stones things is very nice and a nice idea to use different colours - that's a great idea to create several looks with recycled material :)

Overal I would say you did very well on the photo's as well. The glint of the metal is very pretty. It also shows the scratches on the pendants very well, which add to the work in my opinion. The photo's on the right look a bit blurry though. For the photo's on the top right you can't really see the stone you put on them, and the photo on the bottom left the tail is blurry. Maybe it would work to change the colour of the background. That would be an interesting experiment anyway. Maybe a dark red or brown - yellow would help to really make these pieces pop

Anyway a great piece and I really like your story of how you made them and how you got the parts in your description. Really makes the piece come alive :).
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
The point of the photos at top right was to show off the details along the sides of the pendants, so getting the stones in focus wasn't a consideration. The other one is just due to the nature of close-up shots making the background fuzzy. After a point I just got so done with taking photos and used what I had that was good enough. Different background colours are definitely going to be a thing in the future, though!
BellaGBear's avatar
BellaGBearStudent Artisan Crafter
fair enough :)
domeliz12's avatar
domeliz12Hobbyist General Artist
I love this!
I really like how you took the time to write a huge description and give all the background information, it really helps to make me scroll up and look at it repeatedly.
The pendents are really unique, which I love. I think its super cool how you've got a different stone on each side, it adds extra variety to the whole piece. I can see kind of see a steam punk vibe going on but the pendent also for some reason reminds me of a machine shop even though I know it came from a hard disk, I think it must be the way its the way it was sanded.
Anyways keep up the good work!
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
The different stones were both a conscious choice to add variety, and me not being able to decide which one I liked more.

I suppose at some point it did pass through a machine shop. Parts gotta be made somewhere, after all.
OdinsBeadHall's avatar
OdinsBeadHallProfessional Artisan Crafter
Interesting composition! It sort of reminds me of something a post-apocalyptic tinkerer would wear like a trophy. I like the rough finish on the metal too to make it look like it's showing wear. Awesome recycling idea!
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
Yeah, there are quite a few neat-looking computer parts that lend themselves really well to being jewellery. Steampunk has its place and can look super awesome, and I've made a few pieces in that vein, but my own personal leanings definitely tend more toward the cyberpunk side of things. The rough finish is aesthetic as well as practical; as far as metals go, these aluminum parts are quite soft and they scuff like you wouldn't believe. So since it'll probably end up scratched to hell anyway, why not have at it with some files and sandpaper first?
OdinsBeadHall's avatar
OdinsBeadHallProfessional Artisan Crafter
I can definitely see the cyberpunk theme, too. I'm rather obsessed with the genre and it's usually where my writing takes me xD Perhaps a piece taken from a defeated augmented gang member?

I think the artificial weathering does suit it well, and having worked with aluminum rings myself, can totally agree with the softness of the damnable material.

Awesome job and I look forward to seeing more of your works~
craftsbyblue's avatar
craftsbyblueHobbyist Artisan Crafter

Hi! I'm commenting as part of CRArtisanCrafts and PhotographyGuide Comment Month :wave:!

These pendants look really unique, and I think that they would look great as a keychain or bracelet as well. I like that they can be worn in multiple ways, and how the pendants look like gadgets from a sci-fi movie. The fact that you created these works of art from computer parts is very impressive :nod:. Color-wise, I think that the tiger eyes also contrast nicely against the silver colors and add a personal touch to the piece; it'd be interesting to see other customization options, such as bright blue gemstone beads. Lastly, your GIFs are really neat - they really help convey the 
chatoyance of your stones, as well as the luminance and details of the metal. Overall, amazing work :heart:!

I have a few suggestions for this piece. First, I suggest photographing both pieces together and keeping the number of collage photos to a minimum. In general, the more photos there are in a collage, the harder it is for viewers to fully 'zoom in' and appreciate the details of your works. Another potential issue with collages is distracting borders - in this case, your border colors fit the theme of your piece well, but the bright border frames and the gradient in the background still steal a bit of the show away from your works.

Additionally, from a customer's perspective, I have trouble visualizing the dimensions of your piece. Speaking from experience, it's one thing to read 50mm, and another to accurately translate those numbers to real-life sizes. If I'm not extremely enthusiastic about a particular listing and anticipate having to spend extra hours/days asking the seller for this information, I'm likely to jump to another listing. Conveying a clear picture of the size can make a huge difference to the customer and help convince the people who need this information to decide on a purchase. I suggest including an object of known size in your photo as reference (ex. a ruler, or more preferably your hand).

For commissions/sale purposes, I also suggest adding other currencies to your listed price (ex. dollar, pound). It will help customers from other countries get a good sense of the price, and keeping this important information in one place lowers the chance of potential customers getting sidetracked in looking for a currency converter.


I hope this helps, and keep up the excellent work :)!

ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
There is just the one pendant. It's double-sided, with a different stone colour on each side, hence the mass of individual photos to show both sides/stones from several angles. I will agree that maybe not all of them are absolutely necessary, but there were a lot of little details only visible from certain sides, and I may have gotten a bit carried away with that. As to the borders and background, I'm wondering if that could be an individual monitor issue. On my screen the shades are fairly subdued and blend pretty well, but I have no way to know how it might be appearing on other people's machines (some of my stuff from 8+ years ago that was done on my previous computer looked just fine when I made it, and then on this monitor is... kind of ugly, but like hell I'm going to colour-correct several dozen pieces when there are new projects calling my name, and they might look hella weird again if/when I get a new monitor some time down the line).

You make a good point about the dimensions. I'm not sure if it's something I'll incorporate into the collages themselves, but maybe I'll toss a few "banana for scale" images into my Scraps and link them in the comments so people have a reference point (although with a ruler instead of a piece of fruit, since bananas, like hands, come in a variety of sizes).

I used to list pricing in several currencies on my pieces, but the exchange rate for my local currency to USD/EUR fluctuated a lot over a short span of time a little while ago, and keeping things regularly updated got annoying so I stopped doing it, but yeah, I should probably switch all pricing to USD/EUR/GBP instead of something as unfamiliar-to-most-people as NOK.

Thank you for the in-depth comment. Been a while since I received one this detailed. It's nice.
craftsbyblue's avatar
craftsbyblueHobbyist Artisan Crafter
Ah, I see - that’s really neat! And I understand that - it’s hard to capture all that detail in 1-2 photos. Still, I think you can put your best two photos, one for each side, as your deviation photo (think of it as a preview and how it looks from the thumbnail view), and since you have core you can always put additional photos in your description :).

It might be differences in monitor settings; yeah, there’s no need to color-correct your old pieces, it’s just something that you can consider for your future projects and Etsy photos :).

Linking the size references from your scraps is a good idea - and a ruler is a great way to standardize it; like you said, hands and other references come in a variety of sizes :nod:.

I see; if the rates keep changing then it’s tough. Etsy probably does these conversions automatically, so if you have a listing then you can link it in your description and maybe list one major currency like USD.

You are welcome; I’m glad I could help, and I’m glad you didn’t think my comment was too long xD!
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
Yeah, pretty sure Etsy has some kind of auto-conversion; at least every time I've looked at stuff on there it has shown me prices in NOK even if the seller is in the US or UK or Australia or wherever. I am not (currently) on Etsy, but a little shindig at the local makerspace this past weekend kind of drove home just how much finished art I have squirrelled away in storage bins, so maybe I should consider setting up an account just so I can clear out some of this stuff.
craftsbyblue's avatar
craftsbyblueHobbyist Artisan Crafter
Yeah it does, and it auto-calculates shipping as well (unless you decide to set your own shipping prices) :nod:. Sounds like a plan! As far as I know, Etsy has one of the lowest transaction and listing fees, and also ways to market your listings within the site to give them more visibility (teams and forums) ^^.
Amarantheans's avatar
AmarantheansHobbyist General Artist
This has a really neat original look to it. Kinda like something you would think to see in an apocalypse, someone just making jewelry from what they could find.
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
This one had a big chunk of plastic on the wide end that used to hold some of the wiring and other stuff, and I was really pleased when grinding it off revealed the neato rounded protrusions in the metal underneath. This one definitely has a unique shape to it, and I'm not sure how likely it is that I'll find anything similar any time soon. All the other ones I have are a different kind.
Amarantheans's avatar
AmarantheansHobbyist General Artist
Yeah, it is difficult when destroying computers to find similar items as everyone likes to put their own stuff into them.
MrStrangeInc's avatar
DID FRIEND GOOD SLEEP WORDS NOW?
ChimeraDragonfang's avatar
GOOD SLEEP HAD WORDS NOW YES
anonymous's avatar
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