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 Post subject: Yet Another Drive Suspension System
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:37 pm 
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Introduction

This thread will document a hard drive damping technique that I recently tried. I looked at Sorbothane, and was going to order some, but I came across this material (see below) at Home Depot and thought I would give it a try first.

My initial concern about the Sorbothane as used by Ralf was that I did not like the idea of just laying the drive on the material without any kind of permanent support. I had similar reservations about using the hanging method using elastic cord. One of the requirements that I had was that the drive needed to be installed so that the computer could be moved “as is,” without further securing of the drives for shipment.

Also, given the recent comments in the thread at http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=10428 about people having resonance problems when putting Sorbothane on the sides of the drive (in addition to placing it at the bottom) on an Antec Sonata/BQE drive tray, it makes me wonder if Sorbothane is right material for a drive damping suspension.

For maximum quietness a hard drive should be isolated from the case, but the drive also needs to be damped to absorb vibrations and movements generated by the drive. So even if the elastic cord method could be employed so the computer could be shipped, I don’t like the idea of the drive being free to move around as it operates.

Below is a description of the materials I used, and how it was mounted on an Antec Sonata/BQE drive tray. I had three Western Digital drives that I needed to quiet on my database server. The end results are virtually silent disk drives.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:40 pm 
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Here are the basic materials I used that I purchased from Home Depot. The Wall Plate Insulating Gasket cost about $2.00 for 10 sheets (the size of an electrical wall plate). The package of screws 6/32 x 3/4) cost about $1.00 as did a package of #8 washers (this size washer is needed if installing on Sonata type trays so they will slide in the cage).

Image


Last edited by m0002a on Sat Mar 19, 2005 8:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:44 pm 
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Here is a close-up of the foam insulating gasket. Note that it is scored to fit an electrical outlet or switch. I primarily used the long strips on either side that had no cuts in the foam. The foam is about 1/8” thick closed-cell high-density foam. Obviously, it is rated for use around electrical circuits.

Image


Last edited by m0002a on Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:50 pm 
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This picture shows the screw and foam mounts used to attach the drive from underneath the tray. When securing the drive with screws, it is very important to have the same foam on the screw mounts as exists on the top of the drive tray. Washers are used to keep the screw heads from passing through the foam.

Also note that I used a small piece of foam to fill in the indentation in the drive tray. Glue was used to hold all the pieces of insulation in place. The glue does not have to be particularly strong or even completely cured before mounting, but it does help hold everything together during installation (especially if you only have 2 hands).

Image


Last edited by m0002a on Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:53 pm 
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Here is the tray with all the foam glued in place. I used 3 layers of foam, partly to match the length of the ¾” #6 (6/32) screws. I only used 2 layers of foam on the screw mounts from the bottom.

Image


Last edited by m0002a on Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:56 pm 
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Here is the final installation showing the 3 layers of foam on top, and 2 layers on the bottom (where the screw holds the drive to the tray). The resulting suspension is firm, but at the same time relatively compliant.

Image


Last edited by m0002a on Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:59 pm 
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Before using insulating foam gasket material on the Antec drive tray, I first used it on an old Gateway drive cage. The two IBM drives were quite noisy and the drive cage was flush with the drives without any room for grommets. So I bent the drive cage to give me enough clearance on the sides to use the foam. Since I had two drives, and I could only bend the cage on one end, I need more layers of foam for the second drive to fill in the wider gap toward the bottom of the cage. The same technique was used on the traditional drive cage as I used on the Antec drive tray, except that the foam was used on the side of the drives instead of the bottom. The results on the Gateway were a dramatic reduction in noise.

In addition to using the foam as a drive suspension, I also used the foam as general insulating material inside the case of the Gateway, especially around the drive cage. I simple glued the sheets onto the case. In this case, the fact that the sheets were scored had little consequence once glued to the case.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 6:49 am 
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It looks nice! I wouldn't be comfortable with shipping it, though--I don't see anything preventing the drive and/or the bolts from banging against the sides. Vertical cushioning and isolation looks great, and I'd trust friction to keep the drive in place horizontally most of the time. However, there's no inherent "recentering" effect as in an elastic suspension. If I were transporting the system in a car, I'd check the centering of the drives afterward.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 7:34 am 
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The foam material is fairly dense and is drive is compressed fairly tight against it (although with multiple layers of foam used it still has plenty of cushion when compressed further). If I try and move the drive laterally to touch the sides of the tray, it does not even come close. The screws are slotted through the original Sonata black grommets.

If softer open-cell foam was used, I could see that being a potential problem, but I don't think it will be a problem with my installation. It’s hard to explain unless you see how this particular foam works.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:51 pm 
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Nicely done m0002a, I like your execution on this. Very interesting. Thanks for posting the details and your experiences.

8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 6:58 pm 
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Thanks Al. Another advantage of this project is that, even if you purchase the gaskets and then decide not to use it for isolating disk drives, you can finally get around to insulating those leaky electrical outlets that are on the outside walls of your home.


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 Post subject: Re: Yet Another Drive Suspension System
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:12 am 
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m0002a wrote:

My initial concern about the Sorbothane as used by Ralf was that I did not like the idea of just laying the drive on the material without any kind of permanent support. I had similar reservations about using the hanging method using elastic cord. One of the requirements that I had was that the drive needed to be installed so that the computer could be moved “as is,” without further securing of the drives for shipment.

Also, given the recent comments in the thread at http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=10428 about people having resonance problems when putting Sorbothane on the sides of the drive (in addition to placing it at the bottom) on an Antec Sonata/BQE drive tray, it makes me wonder if Sorbothane is right material for a drive damping suspension.


Just the other day I pulled my Samsung SP1614N off of it's Sorbothane bed where it has been firmly stuck into place for the past 10 months. It's stayed very secure during this entire time. As you can see from this pic, it sinks down nicely into the sticky Sorbothane. I had to really "peel" the drive off of the Sorbothane to get it to break free. It was stuck quite well.

Image

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:35 am 
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images are not working for me


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 11:54 am 
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DryFire wrote:
images are not working for me


...

m0002a wrote:
I have posted the missing pics from this thread onto Yahoo Photo Albums at this site:
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/m0002a/album?.dir=/7c89&.src=ph
You can associate the picture with the “X” (missing pic) by right clicking on the "X" and selecting “properties”.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:18 am 
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I have moved the pics to a new server and updated the links. If you cannot see them, please let me know.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:28 pm 
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a very nice and well-documented solution :) i had the same quirks about using sorbothane this seems to cover those problem areas quite nicely (and very simply!) (simple is good.)

it's a pity it only works for the antec-style drive bracket thingies though. if this could be adapted to suit more traditional cases then it could mean big things!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:02 pm 
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I was thinking about modifying a traditional (not like Sonata) drive cage so the drives could be screwed from underneath. I saw some steel flat bars at ACE hardware that are about 3/4" wide by 1/8" thick with holes every 3/4” or so. I measured the holes and they match up exactly with the screw holes on the bottom of a 3.5" drive.

One would need two bars going across the bay for each drive. The bars could be bent in U-Shape form for attaching to the side of the drive cage.

The only problem I saw was that an existing 3.5" cage would not be wide enough. But if one wanted to build the cage from scratch or find a 5 ¼” bay, it could easily be done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:07 pm 
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would it be possible to fit your mounting system within a single 5 1/4" bay? i.e. enclose it within a discarded cd-rom drive shell? or is the height of the hdd + 3 layers + metal + 2 layers + screw head too much?

also another thing: if you were to adapt it to be used in a 5 1/4" bay, would simple holes in the metal 'side-rails' (made of the steel flats you mentioned) be adequate? or would you need to isolate them with some rubber a la sonata/bqe?

just throwing around some ideas. :D (it's early morning here, my enthusiasm is inversely proportional to the amount of time i've spent awake)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:18 pm 
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I suppose that most 5 1/4" bays would work for 2 drives.

Let me clarify about the flat bars. For each drive there would be two flat bars going across the bay sideways (perpendicular to the length of the drive). There would need to be holes in the flat bar to attach the drive using the bottom drive mounting screw holes (like on the Sonata drive trays). Rubber grommets would be put in the holes to prevent the screws from making contact with bars (although with an under-mounted system, this is less likely than a side mount).

The rest of installation would be just like I did the Sonata trays. But with the flat bars, the air flow would be much better and the drives would of course be turned 90 degrees from the way the Sonatas are mounted.

I hope this makes sense. Maybe I will have to draw a picture.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:22 pm 
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i understand :)

i wonder if you can get rubber grommets that easily though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:34 pm 
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Most hardware stores in the US have lots of grommets in all different sizes. Softer grommets can be ordered through McMaster. But the beauty of this system is that the screws don't ordinarily make contact with the grommets (unlike a side mounted system) so they don’t have to be particularly soft (the high density foam carries the load from both top and bottom).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:38 pm 
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yeah, good point :)

now all it needs are some heat-conducting yet elastic thingies on the sides. a good thing about this method of mounting is that it leaves the sides totally free and unobstructed!

or maybe some heatsinks could be mounted to the sides? (removing the need for an elastic heat-conducting material/structure altogether)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:44 pm 
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chylld wrote:
...or maybe some heatsinks could be mounted to the sides? (removing the need for an elastic heat-conducting material/structure altogether)

Exactly.


Last edited by m0002a on Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 10:39 am 
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i think i will try your suggestion about using flat bars. are the flat bars available at compusa or home depot?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 11:29 am 
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You can get the flat bars at any good hardware store. The ones I saw were at Ace, but I am not sure that all Ace Hardware stores carry the same stock.

I saw some yesterday at Home Depot, whcih were a little thicker than needed, but will work.

The suff I saw had holes about every 3/4" on center which exactly lined up with the bottom mount holes on a 3.5" disk drive (although you would have to use some large washers becasue the holes are not small).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:39 pm 
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i think it turned out very well. the hard drives are virtually inaudible now. i posted a little howto in another thread.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:39 am 
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Does this significantly cut down on drive noise? I have a WD 80 se & a Maxtor 250 16mb cache in my 3700 BQE......would I benefit?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:37 am 
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fluxu8 wrote:
Does this significantly cut down on drive noise? I have a WD 80 se & a Maxtor 250 16mb cache in my 3700 BQE......would I benefit?

Yes, if you use the materials and installation described in this thread, it will significantly cut down on noise (in my experience). In two of my systems, I quieted very noisy IBM and WD (the old ones) drives. One system has 2 IBM's and the other has 3 older WD's.

I also used this installation in a new BQE system with 2 WD drives that have the new and quiet FDB's. With the case open, I cannot hear seeks unless I get within about 1-2 feet of the drives.

I would also consider gluing some sheets of the gasket material (foam) to the top and bottom surfaces of the drive cage. Super Glue or Crazy glue works fine.

If you don't have access to Home Depot, then try to find some other closed-cell high-density foam.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:41 am 
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it also depends on the type of noise. this technique probably works better at eliminating lower frequency noise. although it did significantly reduce my drives high pitch whining sound... that is, until i replaced my noise PSU. now i can hear it again. i guess i have to stop at some point. i'll buy quieter drives in the future.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:45 am 
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serfurj wrote:
it also depends on the type of noise. this technique probably works better at eliminating lower frequency noise. although it did significantly reduce my drives high pitch whining sound... that is, until i replaced my noise PSU. now i can hear it again. i guess i have to stop at some point. i'll buy quieter drives in the future.

If you use the foam material on the drive cage surfaces (and also on the sides of the cases near the drive cage), then I think you will see a noticeable reduction in high-frequency noise.


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