Hard drive sandwich
The 'I didn't do it' kid
I take no credit for inventing this mod. The first time I saw it was at overclockers.com by one Mike Chin. I’ve merely documented the same technique for my G3 and am sharing it here for those who may not have seen the original.
The drive in my G3, a 20GB WD, is a noisy fellow. It has an annoying high-pitched whine that overpowers all the other computer noises in the room, and it gets on my nerves. Some would suggest getting a quieter drive, but I wanted to try something on the cheap first.
Pass me the hack-saw
Two quarter-inch thick aluminum plates were cut about 1 1/2″ larger than the hard drives dimensions. The plates had their edges ground and sanded to remove all burrs that might fall off into expensive areas and to prevent nice people from getting their hands cut. It also looks nicer.
I held the plates together and drilled through all four corners with a 7/32″ bit, with a drop of 3-in-1 oil on the bit. Before I drilled, I used a Sharpie to mark one corner on each of the plates. That way when I put everything together, I can line up the holes and didn’t have to accurately measure each hole before I drilled. It’s a bit of a cheat.
The plates were cleaned again, and waxed with floor wax, and the drive placed in-between. Home Depot supplied the plastic bolts and wing-nuts, for about $0.15 each (and the aluminum was about $20 CDN for enough for two drive sandwiches, at a place called Metal Supermarkets).
I was concerned about the ‘do not cover this hole’ vent on the drive, but it seems to be working fine after over a month of light use.
Once the sandwich was made, I cut some foam to fit around the hard drive. I tested both foam from chair-cushions and a dense adhesive foam with a metallic surface on one side that’s designed for insulating furnace pipes. Both were similar in the small amount of noise they reduced, so I went with the cushion foam as it’s a bit easier to work with, and just slightly thicker than the height of the drive. I sliced a small gap in the foam to allow the hard drive power and ribbon cables to exit without compressing or distorting the foam.
We squeezes them, my precious
I tightened the wing-nuts until they were snug, and adjusted each one as tightening one loosened the other. Don’t over-tighten! I wasn’t too concerned, as I figured the plastic bolts would snap long before any damage would be done to the drive.
Lock & Load
Due to the size of the sandwich over the bare drive, I installed the drive at 90 degrees to how it sits by default on the hard drive sled, and had to use a different ribbon cable from the 4-ish inch one that comes with the G3 (at least mine did).
The drive is noticeably quieter. Not silent, and not as quiet as I’d hoped, but quieter. The most annoying noise was in the higher frequencies, and that’s been reduced enough that it’s competing with the power supply fan for attention, whereas before it was the dominant noise. Denser foam would help, but for now, it’s good enough.
The drive currently sits loose on the floor of the G3. It's heavy enough that it doesn't move around, and the G3 itself is never moved. Future work, should I be so motivated, would be to drill and tap mounting holes in the bottom plate to attach one of the G3's drive brackets(at 90 degrees based on where the sandwich currently sits).