Want *physical* hd activity light for (prebuilt) Windows desktop pc!
September 25, 2017 8:14 AM   Subscribe

So while I managed to get a pre-built system that I really like, with exactly the # of ports and drive bays I needed and wanted, and it works great - it moronically has no disk activity light. Yup. It's dumb that it has no disk access light. But I digress. More on the need for glowy usefulness inside.

I have already tried a number of software utilities that flash the disk activity in the system tray, or on the desktop of Windows itself, and even one that will flash your keyboard key light of choice during activity (which is pretty damn cool). And I think I found a software doodad that lets you hook up a small external lcd to show it to you as well. However! - the problem with all of those solutions is that they won't show you disk activity if you are not inside the O.S.

Ideally it would be something you could plug into a USB port because I think i've maxed out my slots, but I might be able to work around that if I have to use a pcie slot.

My Google-fu has come up with nothing, and there is probably some kind of pc hacking page I should post this to, but I'm not familiar with the best place to post this kind of request.
posted by bitterkitten to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
It may be as simple as hooking up an LED to a couple of pins that are already on the motherboard. If you can find the manual for the particular model of motherboard in your system, you may be able to find a diagram that shows where to find those pins. Alternately, they might be directly labelled on the board as HDD LED or something similar.
posted by arcolz at 8:28 AM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

The mainboard of the computer has pins for an HD activity light. All you have to do is connect a small LED to them. You can probably buy these ready-wired from somewhere, or as a leftover part from a PC repair store or something. Drill a little hole in the case wherever you want the LED, and hot-glue it in. The LED will only work when the lead is connected the right way round.

Alternatively, if your PC has a power LED with a connection to the mainboard, you could just move it to the HDD LED pins and swap its usage.
posted by pipeski at 8:30 AM on September 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As pipeski says, almost all mobos have pin connectors to do exactly what you want. You need to get your motherboard manual and have a look at it. Somewhere it will show a board layout with a two-pin plug that's call "HD activity LED" or similar.

There's a standard two-wire plug to do the job. Here's a typical front panel wire kit from Amazon. You don't need all of that, just the one with the green led on the end. I would phone a local shop PC and see if they have any. If you went through a custom builder, perhaps start there.

Now where do you put the LED on the case? Many have a spot to snap it in already, typically near the power switch. If not, it would be easy to drill a hole yourself and glue the LED in place with some CA (super) glue. This shouldn't be hard to make look neat.
posted by bonehead at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips! So while finding said cable+potentially useful led was easy, looking at the board with my phone magnifying the pins reveals possible snafu. Unless i'm misreading the diagram, it looks like the pins i want are covered up by the cable connector on the right, as seen in my handy photo here. ?

thanks again.
posted by bitterkitten at 10:00 PM on September 25, 2017

Does that connector cover a set of pins similar to those on the left? It looks more like there's a socket there, which would be unusual for front panel connectors.

Knowing the model of the mainboard would probably help.
posted by pipeski at 1:30 AM on September 26, 2017

Best answer: It looks like that case has an all in one front panel connector block. Which is not unheard of for OEM manufacuters like Dell and HP. Luckily they aren't using a proprietary connection.

The green and white wires are the Power LED and the black are the power button. The back half where the HDD LED and the Reset Button go don't appear to have any wires connected.

Because it's a single block it's a little more complicated than just adding the LED connector. You may be able to add wires to the block for the HDD LED. Or you could replace the block with individual connectors. But you'd have to either splice into the existing front panel LED and button or replace them.
posted by zinon at 7:10 AM on September 26, 2017

Response by poster: Yes, looks like pins. I would prefer not to post the make and model, though I can say that on their website the motherboard diagram points those out as "front i/o panel" which would seem to indicate that's what I need to get at. Looks like they are using a cable that is missing some wires, which would not be weird given that they opted not to put in the hd activity light, but the cable seems like it blocks off the pins I need.

I'm thinking unless I want to disassemble the unfun-to-get-to front panel, so I can replace the front i/o panel cable with a different one, I won't be able to just stick a 2-pin cable in there for the hd activity light.
posted by bitterkitten at 7:11 AM on September 26, 2017

« Older Absolute best snow shovel money can buy?   |   Ex why? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.