Computer Geeks Please

Anybody know anyone who dabbles in fixing HD's and data recovery in the Sydney area? I know it's meant to be done in a lab/dust free environment etc but the quotes I got from these companies even after discounting was too rich for me (around $1400). From the initial evaluation leading to the quotes I've been told it has a broken mechanical arm. I did download some vids off youtube on how to fix your own HD's and was going to have a go but I just stared at my HD and knew it was beyond me. I've had a techie with data recovery software have a go but it doesn't even find my c drive. Everybody who is 'into' PC's seems to 'specialise' in something, whether it be movies, music, systems, building PC's and so on. Surely there's someone out there who 'specialises' in repairing HD's and attempting data recovery? Of course, I'm prepared to pay and I know there is no guarantees, but it's useless as it is so I have nothing to lose with a 'hobbyist' having a go. It's a laptop HD by the way.

PS: No lectures on backing up please. I am aware of the importance of it and generally do it, but I had some real bad PC luck the week I was planning to back up all my stuff - and then it crashed. :(
Some considerations:

if the hdd light comes on when it is in the puter and you hear it whirring, that indicates the platters are rotating ok.

if you hear slow repetitive clicking noises shortly after turning the puter on, that indicates the read/write head (head arm) are either having trouble :
- reading a critical part of the hdd (like the master boot record or file allocation table)
- unable to physically move at all.

if you hear the disk whirring, but there's no other noise to indicate the arm is trying to move, then the arm might be completely dead.

What I'd suggest if it is 1 or 2, is to buy or borrow a little external notebook hdd cartridge ($20) the buggered drive in it, and plug the unit into another booted xp computer system. XP should then automaticallly try and access it. The rationale for this working is that the head and arm might work if it bypasses dodgey boot sectors, or there is something dodgey about the notebook internal power circuitry to the hdd.....

If XP fails to access it, there's some low level software like terabyte's products that would be worth having a go with outside of windows. But you'd need an enthusiast to do that.

Apart from that, in the 80s and 90s, sticking head or arm could sometimes be freed by raising the hdd above your head and quickly swinging your hand towards the floor and stopping quickly. Then put the hdd back in the computer and try your luck. Don't bang it hard on a desk though.

I've taken desktop hdds apart before, but never recovered data from them. I seriously doubt replacing a head arm is the sort of thing a hobbiest could do.

If the data isn't worth $1400, then that's a relatively cheap lesson learned.
there seemed to be a decently priced one that advertised on (a computer forum) a while ago. Might be worth getting a quote.
I've used these guys in the past and they're affordable P2

Basically they charge $330inc for the first two hours to look at the drive and commence recovery if it is possible. After that they charge per hour.

They're capable, if the data can be recovered there is a good chance they will recover it (PS: I'm not on commission :))

you could try putting HDD in the freezer for a while and then plug it in while it's still cold and give it a shot

works sometimes if the drive is not completely fubared

you'll need to have your USB stick ready so you can copy all the data quickly
I've read about people reviving their HDD with the freezer too (though not for a mechanical arm), will only work while it's still cold so you won't have long. and make sure it's in a water proof bag....