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You also can use a dab of silicone RTV (room-temperature vulcanizing) rubber or caulk on the back of the strap. If you try this method, be sure to use low-volatile (noncorrosive) silicone RTV sealer, which commonly is sold at auto-parts stores. The noncorrosive silicone will be listed on the label as being safe for automotive oxygen sensors. This low-volatile silicone also is free from corrosive acids that can damage the copper strap and is described as low-odor because it does not have the vinegar odor usually associated with silicone RTV. Dab a small amount on the back side of the copper strap (do not interfere with the contact location), and the problem should be solved permanently.

Lubricating the strap is an acceptable, but often temporary, solution. You will want to use some sort of conducting lube, such as a graphite-based compound (the kind used on frozen car locks). Any conductive lubricant (such as moly or lithium) will work as long as it is conductive, but do not use standard oil or grease. Simply dab a small amount of lubricant onto the end of a toothpick, and place a small drop directly on the point of contact.

The last solution is not acceptable. Tearing off the strap eliminates the noise, but it has several possible ramifications. Although the drive will work (silently) without the strap, an engineer placed it there for a reason. Imagine those ungrounded static charges leaving the platters through the heads, perhaps in the form of a spark — possibly even damaging the TF heads. You should choose one of the other solutions.

I mention this last solution only because several people have told me that members of the tech-support staff of some of the hard drive vendors, and even of some manufacturers, told them to remove the strap, which — of course — I do not recommend.

Logic Boards

A disk drive, including a hard disk drive, has one or more logic boards mounted on it. The logic boards contain the electronics that control the drive's spindle and head actuator systems and that present data to the controller in some agreed-upon form. In some drives, the controller is located on the drive, which can save on a system's total chip count.

Many disk drive failures occur in the logic board, not in the mechanical assembly. (This statement does not seem logical, but it is true.) Therefore, you can repair many failed drives by replacing the logic board, not the entire drive. Replacing the logic board, moreover, enables you to regain access to the data on the failed drive — something that replacing the entire drive precludes.

Logic boards can be removed or replaced because they simply plug into the drive. These boards usually are mounted with standard screw hardware. If a drive is failing and you have a spare, you may be able to verify a logic-board failure by taking the board off the known good drive and mounting it on the bad one. If your suspicions are confirmed, you can order a new logic board from the drive manufacturer, but unless you have data you need to recover, it makes more sense to just buy a new drive, considering today's cost.

To reduce costs further, many third-party vendors also can supply replacement logic-board assemblies. These companies often charge much less than the drive manufacturers for the same components.

Cables and Connectors

Most hard disk drives have several connectors for interfacing to the system, receiving power, and sometimes grounding to the system chassis. Most drives have at least these three types of connectors:

  Interface connector(s)
  Power connector
  Optional ground connector (tab)

Of these, the interface connectors are the most important because they carry the data and command signals from the system to and from the drive. In many drive interfaces, the drive interface cables can be connected in a daisy chain or bus-type configuration. Most interfaces support at least two drives, and SCSI supports up to seven in the chain. Some interfaces, such as ST-506/412 or ESDI, use a separate cable for data and control signals. These drives have two cables from the controller interface to the drive. SCSI and IDE drives usually have a single data and control connector. With these interfaces, the disk controller is built into the drive (see Figure 1-7).

FIG. 1-7  Typical hard disk connections (ST-506/412 or ESDI shown).

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