Introduction: Add a LED to a Flash Drive

Step-by-step tutorial on how to add a LED to a USB thumbdrive. Useful for color coding drives for archiving files.


bassclarinet23 (author)2008-08-14

Was the LED welded to the power source or what?

Never mind, sodering iron.

OMG! I used to play the bass clarinet! Monstrous instrument!

I used to as well. Had to give it up though. It had a nice sound. I didn't like the high-pitched sopranos as much.

Guynamedthomas281 (author)2009-10-29

what would be the best led to use for this project? add an ebay link for some major cool points

tanmanknex (author)2009-02-21

I cant watch the video, so i tried to do it on my own using the schematics that GITRGR8 kindly gave. In a nutshell, I made sure the polarity was correct, and that I used a 100K resistor. I connected the LED to the VCC and GND, and i plugged it in. The second the flash drive connected with my laptop it shut down. What did I do wrong and why cant I watch the video? Could it be that the wires touched the metal casing and shorted it? But why would that cause my CPU to crash? P.S. My laptop is fine.

tanmanknex (author)tanmanknex2009-02-21

Nevermind, i just read that if the USB power jack is shorted out, then most laptops shut down to protect the motherboard otherwise it'd get fried and your computer would die... i am SO glad they put that in otherwise id have a dead laptop.

tanmanknex (author)tanmanknex2009-02-22

I still dont know why the video wont play...

cornflaker (author)2009-01-16

Its L.E.D, not led :P

taco_guy93 (author)2008-03-27

combine with resistor in this Instructable Smallest USB LED
so the led doesn't burn out

bomberman3 (author)taco_guy932008-08-30

he used a 5v led and the power source was 5v, so it doesn't need a resistor

bassclarinet23 (author)2008-08-15

What kind of jump drive did you use?

blckthng (author)2008-07-05

ingenious man!!!!!!!!! but whats a 'led'?(that question isnt necessarily answerable.)

Derin (author)2008-06-13

at turkey where every single letter is short

Derin (author)2008-06-11

i do

GitarGr8 (author)2008-02-04

Instead of using the 5 volt rail, you could have used one of the data rails. That way the LED would blink when you are transferring data.

tankboyben (author)GitarGr82008-04-23

hi, i wanna do this, which ones the data rail?

GitarGr8 (author)tankboyben2008-04-23

Here's a pinout for USB. You can use either the Data + or Data - depending on how you wire the LED and transistor.

CyberBill (author)GitarGr82008-02-11

I'm pretty sure if you hooked up an LED over the data rail you'd make the USB drive no longer function (as you are essentially shorting out the rail to ground) You'd have to hook up a small transistor with the LED hooked to power and ground, and then you'd be OK.

tankboyben (author)2008-04-23

does anybody know the voltage of the micro L.E.D.'s that are already on some drives as id like to remove one and change for a different color one, help much appreciated, cheers

iSteam (author)2008-03-24

What size (mm) LED did you use?

othertonywilson (author)2008-02-05

The pronunciation of an LED is not like Led Zeppelin... It is pronounced ELL EEE DEE. This is because the letters in L.E.D. stand for Light Emitting Diode. So it is an abbreviation, and not a word. Just for future references...

Scuba, pronounced Skoobuh, is an acronym as well ( Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus ). Just because its an acronym doesn't mean you have to spell it out. But yeah, I've never heard anyone pronounce it like lead.

schimmi (author)CyberBill2008-02-24

i'd say that if it's more than a few letters you can pronounce it if possible

Oh, thanks. Yeah, not all acronyms need to be spelled out, but there are certain ways to say them.

Scott_Tx (author)2008-02-04

5 volts will probably kill an LED pretty quickly and you forgot to mention the polarity.

dpg10 (author)Scott_Tx2008-02-04

The 5 Volt LED wont burn out from receiving 5 Volts of power. its designed to handle that power load. Also this video wasn't intended to teach you about LED polarity, rather the polarity of the components in the flash drive so that you could soldier a LED in it. Hence the diagram of the thumb drive with the polarity.

Patrik (author)dpg102008-02-07

Yeah, but where the heck do you get a 5V LED? The high power white or blue LEDs tend to max out around 4.5V or so. Much lower than that for other colors. So if you suggest this "for color coding drives", you shoudl definitely cover current limiting resistors as well (and yes, LED polarity...)

CyberBill (author)Patrik2008-02-11

Most 5v LEDs are just smaller LEDs with a built in current limiting resistor. They make 12v LEDs the same way. You should be able to pick up a 5v LED at Radioshack or on any online retailer such as digikey or mouser.

nf119 (author)Scott_Tx2008-02-04

Its that Amps that kill not the Volts. High voltage in reverse bias might kill, but thats usually happens only if you switched the polarity. The voltage that LEDs are rated with is called the voltage drop - this voltage is always constant no matter what the supply voltage is. This is the voltage potential across the LED, thus resistor values are calculated by: (Supply Voltage - Voltage Drop) / Current Rating

uguy (author)nf1192008-02-05

Who calls them LEADS?

nf119 (author)uguy2008-02-05

IDK, I did say it.

Scott_Tx (author)uguy2008-02-05

People who think 5 volts is ok for Leads :P

irwinner (author)2008-02-04

you forgot the resistor

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-04

I also was thinking that it would kill the USB drive too. Still, this is really awesome, I like all the ones that have LEDs in them.

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