Tag: Hard Disk Drives

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How to Build a Computer 28: Video Edition!

Coming to you taped from the Wastes of Wisconsin Winter we present a special video edition of how to build a computer. In this post I take apart a hard drive and look at the bits piece by piece. Thrills, chills, blood and laughter, folks this film has it all! And at a price so low I’m practically giving it away.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How to Build a Computer 25: The Magnetoresistive Effect

Our story starts with Lord Kelvin, one of the great old school physicists. You can read about his career from John Walker’s old Saturday Night Science. Actually, at the point he enters this story I don’t think Kelvin had made lord yet; he was just some bloke named Thompson. This Thompson fellow was playing around with magnets and electricity and that sort of thing. What he discovered is that you can change the resistance of a wire with a magnetic field. And furthermore that that change in resistance depends on the angle between the wire and the magnetic field.

Let’s take that a little more slowly. Change in resistance when you’re in a magnetic field? Okay, I can buy that; there’s all this nonsense about wires and magnets and whatnot that I’ve been blathering about up until this point. Angle? The resistance in your wire will vary a great deal whether it’s parallel or antiparallel to the magnetic field on your disk. (Antiparallel means parallel, but facing the other direction. The northbound lane on a highway is antiparallel to the southbound lane.) If your wire is running current right-to-left and your magnetic field is pointed left-to-right then your wire’s resistance is at it’s highest because of your antiparallel configuration.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How to Build a Computer 24: Reading and Writing

Last time we discussed electricity, magnetism, and how you can generate a magnetic field with an electric current. You know what? Let’s jump straight to the kielbasa:

If you run a current through the wire you generate a magnetic field in the sausage (which ought to be a magnetizable metal, naturally), and a field between the prongs. Okay, we can use that thing to make a magnetic field, and use it to write fixed magnetic spots to a disk. The question we left off with is ‘how do you read it?’ Actually, I skipped a step. There’s still one important distinction to be drawn in how you write. Why does the magnetic field still write things if the platter isn’t in between those prongs?