Yesterday I was admiring the USB drives in the Steampunk section and decided to create my own. With a few hand tools, a couple hours and some creativity I created my own. This drive doesn't reflect steampunk but fits my personality. I enjoy simplicity, originality and shooting sports.
For this project I started with two brass empty rifle cartridges. The idea was to shape but not stretch these to the correct size of a USB drive. I chose a 25-06 (same size as 30-06 and .270) and a 300 Win Mag (same as 7mm Mag). Rifle cartridges taper so I knew if the diameters of the body were close the would slide together then stop.
Step 1: Choosing/Disassembling a Drive
1) Take off the cover with a screw driver.
2) Find the seam on the plastic body and line it up with you pliers teeth. Gently break the cover.
3) Observe construction. You will need to design your body to match. On this drive there is nothing holding the board in the metal sleeve on the backside. We will have to come up with a fix later.
Step 2: Starting Construction
2) Use a thick piece of steel and an angle grinder to but a jig the same size as a USB. This is sort of a guess and check. I used a sharpie and a caliper to get close. Also chamfer the top edges so you can get the brass started. Be sure to make each chamfer identical otherwise you risk stretching out or tearing one side.
3) Stretch the cartridge over the jig gently with a hammer. I used several very light strokes to guide the brass onto the jig.
4) Follow point 2, grind a second Jig that fits the smaller rifle cartridge.
5) Stretch the larger cartridge gently over the new jig just like in point 3.
6) See how they fit.
Step 3: Finishing the Ends
1) Fit your two pieces, then measure the excess room you think you'll need in the ends. Leave room for the drive, solder, and error.
2) Cut the ends and fold.
3) Sweat ends.
4) Grind until clean.
Step 4: Decorating
1) Cut and remove the excess brass. I used a jar opener to prevent the pliers from digging in.
2) Grind the backside of the stamp until flush. This was the most challenging of the process. If I used pliers to hold the piece on the grinder it dug in and ruined the sides. I ended up just holding it by hand and going really slow so it didn't heat up.
3) Solder the piece on the cover.
Step 5: Assemble Drive
1) We know the board in the drive will slide out the back of the metal sleeve. So measure the the depth of the body, subtract the length of the sleeve and board, and cut a spacer to slide in. I used another 38 special brass and it worked beautifully.
2) Dry assembly and test.
3) Follow the gluing procedures of the product you choose and be careful not to get any on the board.
Mine started to bubble up the sleeve and was approaching the connectors. I used the original plastic cover and cut a push stick to go down in the hole. It worked great and catastrophe was avoided.