Introduction: How to Make a Steampunk USB Flash Drive

Picture of How to  Make a Steampunk USB Flash Drive

Have you ever wanted a USB flash drive that was a little bit more than just a regular plastic one? Are you a fan of the steampunk genre? In this instructable I will show you how to make my kind of steampunk flash drive. This is not a project for the beginner. You will need to know how to solder using a torch. Silver solder is a little tricky.

This drive is now for sale at my ETSY shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/187824124/steampunk-...

I will be attending the steampunk worlds fair this weekend, May 16th to the 18th. I hope to see you all there. i will have my ETSY shop on vacation mode while I am out of town. You should get the items you want before midnight tonight. Other wise you will have to wait till next week, if the items are still available...

Step 1:

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Tools:
Pipe cutter, Jewelers saw, Torch, Solder pick, Solder plate (I use a turned over ceramic tile), dremel or flex shaft with attachments, files, pliers, cutters, hammers, mandrels, usb male end, sandpaper, est…

Supplies:
Usb flash drive, Brass tubing, Copper plate, Silver, copper, & or brass wire. A stone to go over the LED, silver solder, epoxy

Step 2:

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The first thing to do is to take the drive out of the plastic housing that it came in. I like to do this so I can check the where the LED is & how bright it is. At this point you can also check what stones will work with the color of the LED. I tend to use the same color stone as the light. I have also used white moonstone, which shows the color really well. If you are really good you can change out the LED for a different color, or add a second LED.

Step 3:

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After that the next step is to cut the brass pipe down for the housing & cap. This is where I use the pipe cutter. Use the files or sandpaper to get a nice flat edge to the pieces of the pipe. Next I used the torch to anneal them, then the hammer to start turning them oval. I used a mandrel to keep the shape I wanted.

Step 4:

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The copper plate is next to work on. I first cut it into strips, then the strips to a size just bigger than the oval of the brass tube. You will need four of them. Two of which you need to cut a rectangle in for the plug part of the drive. I have a few of the plug that are not on drives I use as tools for the alterations I do. Drill a hole in the place to be cut out for the plug, & remove the rest with the jewelers saw. I tend to cut it a little on the small side, so I can be a little more accurate with the fit. For the final fit I use needle files.

Step 5:

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Next is soldering the pieces just cut out of the plugs to one side of the smaller & larger brass tubes. It is hard to get them lined up to one another, but get it as close as you can. I use a pickle pot to clean the metal, you can get away with out but I don’t recommend it. Soldering with a silver solder on brass & copper leaves plenty of fire scale. Without the pickle you need to sand, or file the fire scale off for soldering other things on.

Step 6:

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Out of the pickle I use the plug not on the drive, with some instant krazy glue to keep the cap & main body together. Once solidly together grind, file, or sand the copper plates smooth with the contours of the brass tubes. This is where the thickness of the tube makes the difference. If you were slightly off before with the alignment of the cap, & body you can file them more to match if the tubing is thicker. I like to drill out a small hole in between the cap & the main body of the drive. I do this so I can add a small bit of silver to the cap. This makes the cap only fit one way.

Step 7:

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Once that is done break the cap & body apart. Solder the top plate to the cap & pickle. Use some brass stripping to make an oval. This will be soldered to the last copper plate to be used as the end cap for the body of the drive. Make sure the oval is a tight enough fit to the tube. Solder to the copper plate. After pickling glue it onto the end & file both the top of the cap & the bottom of the body with the end plate.

Step 8:

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To find the place to drill for the light of the LED to lay the drive on the top of the housing in the place it would be inside. Scrape a mark in the tube & set the drive aside. Drill a small hole, & check the placement of the hole by putting the drive in. Take the drive out. Use a strip of copper to make a bezel for the stone. Solder the bezel to the housing. Drill out the brass more leaving a small amount for the stone to sit on.

Step 9:

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At this point the drive is a plank slate. You can make into just about anything. I added a few wires to give it a little character. I also added silver strips to the back of the of both the cap & main housing. This will allow the owner to wear it on a necklace with out oxidizing as easily. When you have added the last bit to make your drive more interesting, no more using the torch, it is time to set the stone. Place the stone in & smooth the bezel down. There a few places to look up how to do that, so I won’t get into it.

Step 10:

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I use a fast acting oxidizing agent to make it look older than it should be. I also take time to cover the drive with a two part epoxy. This will make the drive a bit more resistant to water. It is best to keep this as thin as possible. Once that has cured use the same epoxy to keep the drive in the housing you just created. I use a syringe to get the epoxy down into the housing after the drive is in. Spread the epoxy around where the plug & copper plate connect. Also add epoxy to the sides of the drive in the back to help support it. Glue the end cap on & when the epoxy cures you are done. The last step is to check that the drive is working alright & the stone lights up.

Comments

JGUZMANO (author)2015-08-11

BEAUTIFUL WORK!!! That's art for me...

Thannks for sharing. Saludos!

silvertinkerer (author)JGUZMANO2015-08-11

Thank you. Hope more people can make them for themselves now. Either that or they can buy mine from my etsy shop.

mine1001 (author)2014-06-14

Yay

mine1001 (author)2014-06-13

Make more projects plz i like them

silvertinkerer (author)mine10012014-06-13

I plan to make a few more instructables as time allows. Going into my busy season. Thank you for the comment!

mine1001 (author)2014-06-13

Amazing

silvertinkerer (author)mine10012014-06-13

Thank you.

mine1001 (author)2014-06-13

That is sooooo cool!!!!

silvertinkerer (author)mine10012014-06-13

Thank you.

d1blodgett (author)2014-06-11

Hi! I love how well made this is, as if it was actually made in the 19th century. I just have one question, how do you replace the drive if it becomes corrupted or broken? Thanks!

I have not come across that issue yet. I would imagine it would be very hard to do. In these housing it is very hard to physically damage the drives. As for corruption, again I have not really used my personal steampunked drives for much other than simple back ups. I would have to try & brake the end cap off & hammer the drive out. Then it would be a task to find a drive with an LED in the same place as the drive that was taken out. But after all that, I would finish as I would at the same stage of building a new one. Thanks for the comment & the great question.

bpetno (author)2014-05-29

This is fantastic! If you patented the case and design i personally think you could make a great buisiness out of this!

silvertinkerer (author)bpetno2014-05-29

I am not the first to make them, not that I would love to make them full time. I really don't see how you could patent them. I do thank you for your enthusiasm.

porcupinemamma (author)2014-05-03

Sir,

You are a gentleman and a scholar!

First-rate!

I have always strided towards excellence. But it is nice to hear people acknowledge it. Thank you.

Fishyfish123 (author)2014-05-02

Your good at this stuff!

Thank you. I started on my own items, & experimented. Now that I have worked out how to keep the quality up, I feel I can sell them & instruct others on how to do their own.

Join us at the "Coldwater Ontario Canada Steampunk Festival" We would love to have you join the merchants, and would be honoured to show you around our town!

I voted for your entry

Thank you.

I would really love to be able to. I will have to talk to some people with whom I have promised those dates to. Please send me a PM with more info about the event, so I can talk with some inteligance.

IkeD (author)2014-05-01

This looks really cool, I love all things steampunk and I think this caught the mood really well. Can't wait to make it!

silvertinkerer (author)IkeD2014-05-01

Thank you. It means a lot to hear someone say why they like it like you have. I wish you luck in your alteration efforts. Let me know how it goes.

thehaneyplace (author)2014-04-30

Nice job!

Thank you.

bcavaciuti (author)2014-04-30

Awesome I love steam punk things but people often go overboard with small things like flash drives making them look tacky but yours is a work of art. Got a new USB that has a horrible rubber case so i'm gonna use your method. Great instructible.

Thank you. It means a lot to hear someone say why they like it like you have. I wish you luck in your alteration efforts. Let me know how it goes.

danimath (author)2014-04-30

wow! I like it, especially the oval form. Perhaps this will be my next one ;-)

silvertinkerer (author)danimath2014-04-30

Thank you. I really like the oval too. It allows for just a little less material to be used, making it just slightly lighter than a round one.

silver55 (author)2014-04-30

Beautiful is the explanation that the key, very good. But I wonder how much it weighs and can ruin the USB port. Translated from Italian by Google

silvertinkerer (author)silver552014-04-30

I have heard that before. I have not run into that as a problem myself. Now I use a laptop, & I do not leave the drives in longer than is needed to transfer the data. That could be why I have not experienced an issue yet. The drive weighs 28g now, before it was 10g. I think the weight is not too much for most ports. Thank you for the question. I hope I answered it well enough for you.

silver55 (author)silvertinkerer2014-04-30

Thanks

silvertinkerer (author)silver552014-04-30

Not a problem my friend.

Clarencepercy (author)2014-04-30

Won't the electrical conductivity properties of brass and copper affect the electronics of the flash drive. Having said that it does look awesome!

That is one of the reasons why I cover the drive with the epox. The only place that the brass & the drive really touch is on the plug. I have not had a single problem once the drives were covered like this. Thank you for the great question. Hope I cleared that up for you.

LaserByte (author)2014-04-29

this is fantastic!

silvertinkerer (author)LaserByte2014-04-29

Thank you.

Ringer1515 (author)2014-04-27

Great i'ble, but may I ask what is steam punk?

boocat (author)Ringer15152014-04-29

As I understand it, it is a re-imagined Victorian era where marvelous anachronisms abound. Imagine a Victorian era with many "modern" devices, but these devices are encased in charming warm brass and inlaid woods, a la William Morris, who felt every object should be decorated and lovely to look at, not simply utilitarian. These devices are run by steam power like the trains of the time. Steampunk is an artistic riff on/expression of the "can-do" attitude many Englishmen had in the Victorian era -- one of exploration and intellectual quest. Exciting gadgets used by exciting people in exciting times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

silvertinkerer (author)boocat2014-04-29

Awesome, thanks for the help explaining the grand genre that is steampunk.

Picture cool devices that do amazing things but somehow look like they were made in the Victorian era. Extra points if it looks like it was cobbled together from spare parts. Bonus if it is all somehow aesthetically pleasing.

If you ever saw the second Hellboy movie, the glasses they use to see the true nature of things is a good example.

I like your explanation.

Steampunk is a genre of science fiction which takes a lot of elements from the time period that used steam as it's main power source. But is not limited to that. Like I said science fiction, so almost anything goes. There is a big array of things that people do that falls under the umbrella of steampunk. Just try googling it.

desmondtheredx (author)2014-04-29

Love it

Thank you.

billbillt (author)2014-04-29

great.. got my votes...

silvertinkerer (author)billbillt2014-04-29

Thank you. I would love it if the instruction won the contests.

doctorkred (author)2014-04-28

very nice, i like very much.

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Muy bonito, me ha gustado mucho.

Thank you.

transistor2 (author)2014-04-27

this is very cool, I am curious why is this design so popular?

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Bio: I am a Goldsmith, Blacksmith, Leather worker, Anime freek, Rennie, Cosplayer, average guy.
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