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Each set of images, deep zoom, and hyper-zoom take dozens of hours to capture, with hundreds of dollars in equipment costs alone. Today this is merely a hobby with the costs coming out of my own pocket. If you’d like to see more, or appreciate the content we’ve gathered so far, consider contributing on Patreon!

HDD Read Head

HDD Read Head

Training is finally over! Thanks to all the great help from folks who made this happen! I couldn’t have done it without you!

I wanted to share the results of the first media gathering session. This was mostly calibration (since the fine folks running the equipment have never been bothered with ‘quality’ before). It turns out that there’s no good way to consistently get image tiles without a LOT of trial an error. As a result, some of the imagery failed to stitch together. I spent a few hours (read: a few hundred bucks -_-) getting the measurements down, so the next session should produce some much better results! I’m sure you’ll love what I have in mind!

For now though, here are the samples I’ve got for you!

Read head from a Hard Drive

What we’re looking at today is the read head from a computer’s magnetic hard drive. The square section in the middle measures about 0.8mm, and what you see around it is the tip of the seek head. This tiny component rapidly moves back and forth over a rotating magnetic storage device, to read microscopic bits of data stored as zeroes and ones. Curious what those bits look like? Don’t worry, that’s coming soon!

Personally I’m amazed at how precise the soldered connections to the wiring in the seek head are – they are beautifully uniform, even though you are reaching the limits of what you could see with the naked eye. Take a look for yourself.

Hard drive read tip. Pictured area ~3 square millimeters


It took me a little while to figure out what the ragged stuff on the edges was, since normally these devices are engineered to extremely precise specifications. After some time though, I realized that it was skins oils! Yes, I mishandled and contaminated the specimen a bit, but I hope you’ll forgive me for this training session. What I find most fascinating isn’t even the strange structures on the read head itself, but rather the strange fungal-looking structures that are visible in the Hyper-Zoom in a few spots across the surface of the read head.

Hard drive read head. Pictured area ~0.8mm wide

I hope you enjoyed these images as much as I did. This was only a training and calibration session, but we learned a lot and look forward to the next session. Please consider sharing this page with your friends, and definitely keep an eye out on the front page for upcoming sets!

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