Gizmo makes overly quiet computers loud again • The Register

The best way to make a sluggish old computer run faster is to replace rotating rust with some flash chippery. The catch is that part of the experience is lost: the sound.

It doesn’t have to be a custom built SSD. In fact, right now the reg FOSS Desk has a smaller CF card and an adapter to make it a 2.5″ drive and is waiting for a window in the diary so it can breathe new life into an Amiga 1200 Authentic retro computing experience is the Sound Effects – like hearing the hard drive head search.

But the German hacker Root42, or Matthias Werner as his mother calls him, found a solution: the HDD clicker. He designed a tiny circuit board that plugs into the connector for the hard drive access LED and that uses a tiny piezoelectric buzzer to emit a brief click each time the LED blinks. An output pin allows the original LED to be driven in turn.

Youtube video

It’s not his first retro computer kit. He has a few other devices with him website and has posted a couple of demonstration videos on the device’s page that demonstrate the sounds of the device running a DOS disk defrag or scan with Norton Disk Doctor.

It’s simple and awesome. It doesn’t attempt to emulate the various noises a hard drive makes during initialization etc., just a noise when accessed – but we suspect the rhythm should still allow a practiced ear to tell what the computer is up to. It’s really useful information. For example, back in the days when Windows NT 4 was new and Intel shipped the PIIX southbridge chip, the first to support bus mastering DMA, this was possible Listen if a machine had the Triton Bus-Mastering Disk driver installed. Once the kernel started, disk accesses suddenly made a buzzing noise instead of discrete clicks.

To be fair, there are comparable devices out there. The American supplier Big Mess O’Wires offers a solid-state floppy disk drive emulator for Apple II owners, plus an optional extra that Loud hard drive. We assume that the clever part of Root42’s gadget was to do this in a cheap and cheerful way for a (fake) hard drive in a standard way.

A version is already going into commercial production serdashop where it costs you a whopping €25 ($24.49/£22.06). ® Gizmo makes overly quiet computers loud again • The Register

Laura Coffey

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