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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Computer Hard Drive Parts Become Signal Mirror.

I try to stay somewhat prepared for disasters of many kinds.  I keep some things handy to throw together in case we need to leave home quickly.  I have some things that are handy for survival or for camping and one of the things I've lacked was a metal signal mirror.  They are not very expensive to buy but I had some old computer Hard Drives laying around that needed to be erased and or destroyed to prevent data recovery from them.  I decided to keep the platters from inside the drives to use as signal mirrors.  Here is a brief guide to making your own.

Here are two hard drives with a 3 & 1/2 inch floppy disk for size comparison.  Notice the screws around the edge of the case and some are under the label.  I remove ALL labels, stickers, and screws when dismantling a hard drive.

Closer view of one hard drive. Notice where two screws under the label were removed.

The shiny metal platter inside the case.  Remove all screws in the middle hub and those holding other mechanisms in place.  There are two magnets inside the case that may give some resistance to removal.  Try not to scratch the platters but you may need to be forceful with other parts.

Here are two platters that I removed from a computer hard drive.  Your drive may have only one platter for it may have more.  Your platters may also be larger or smaller.  The platters are made of metal and not easily broken like a glass mirror.  I keep mine inside a plastic sandwich bag to keep them from getting too many scratches while camping.

Here is one magnet from the drive I dismantled.

I placed the platter on the magnet and moved it around on both sides to completely erase any data on the platter before I use it as a signal mirror.

Hold the platter in one hand, shine the sun's reflection onto the other hand between forefinger and thumb held to form an L.  Using this method you can easily aim your signal spot.

Here you can see my signal spot on the larger tree about  the height of the farside curb.  To get someone's attention at a great distance, simply move the spot back and forth across their face. You may not be able to see the spot at a large distance but you will still be able to see it on your hand and you can move the mirror back and forth to make the spot move across your hand and the gap between  your finger and thumb.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sometimes You Just HAVE to Let Go

Today I wanted to put Corel Draw 3 onto my computer.  OK, I know that there are much newer versions of Corel Draw but version 3 was the last one I bought since it worked quite well for my purposes.  It is only about 20 years old! What ever happened to backward compatibility in Windows anyway? My current computer is running Win7-64 and the installation process just comes up saying that the software is not compatible with my version of windows.  It suggests that I check with the manufacturer for an updated version.  BUT I LIKE THIS VERSION!  And, I can't afford to buy a newer version.  So, I guess it is time to let go of Corel Draw 3.

Following are pictures of the edition 3 of Corel Draw on CD:

The Front Cover

The Back Cover

Inside the CD case. 

Inside the Pamphlet that is in the CD case.

My Corel Draw 3 was purchased and run on Windows 3.0, and then Windows 3.1 for many years.  The specifications state that it requires Windows 3.0 or above (Windows 3.1 is strongly recommended).  I have run it on IBM compatible PCs from 286 up to Pentium. (the 286 required protected mode windows and 4Mb of memory).  I liked the way it worked.

So, now I must leave Corel Draw 3 behind and continue on with other graphics programs.  I still have many that work well but it is a loss of a good tool that has served me well over the years.  I have Serif products that also work well and are reasonably priced.  I also have Paint.Net which is FREE and I have downloaded a ton of addons/effects for it.  And so it comes to this, if you are using Windows 3.1 then I highly recommend Corel Draw 3.0 but if you are using Win7-64 then you might want to check out Paint.Net at