Introduction: Lego Hard Drive Case Mod

Picture of Lego Hard Drive Case Mod

I am a computer geek, age 13. I also like building stuff outta Lego. Now, my two worlds collide.

I made a Lego External USB Hard Drive! Ok, fine, technically, I didn't make it, I just modded the case. The enclosure worked fine, but it was completely SEALED and didn't make a very good heat dissipating case. My original was a Vantec Nexstar CX 3.5" SATA Enclosure. Basically, I took out the SATA-USB logic chip and the frame of the drive and encased it in Lego Bricks. This may not be the best looking design, because my mom doesn't let me have thousands of dollars for mounds of Legos. Oh well, better than nothing!

I also attached a fan to increase air flow, even though there are a lot of holes already. My soldering iron broke and I'm out of solder, so I cant attach the leads for the fan yet. I'm trying to tap the 12v, but the power switch only controls the 5v. So I need to keep looking.

The instructions are not really able to be included because Legos are very versatile and hard to set because we all have different sets, but I'll do what I can to make this easier.

This final has come a long way (3 hours) and a bit of work to turn it into what it is now. Originally, the fan was underneath, but the legs had to be too high. More improvements are to come soon, so keep looking. Advice? Please!

Please rate this instructable!!!!!

Step 1: Baseplate

Picture of Baseplate

The base has no vent holes in it. It's just a completely flat piece (made up of a series of smaller pieces) where the hard drive will be placed. See the picture for more details. The base plate is made up of pieces adding up to 24x16 Lego units. A small extension is required to stop it from falling out and for the I/O panel. It looks different from the finished edition on the cover because I took it apart to document for this Instructable and the base fell apart, so had to reinforce it, A LOT.

Step 2: Walls

Picture of Walls

The hard drive stays on the mounting frame with the chip because it seems more protective for the chip. It also makes for a better mount. The walls are 3 units tall. Some holes are along the walls, but on the side away from the fan assembly. That allows the air to travel a little before it escapes, picking up more heat.

Step 3: Drive Assembly

Picture of Drive Assembly

Coincidentally, my drive and the frame together fit perfectly inside my Lego walls, with a millimeter or 2 or 3 wide gap along the sides. That's perfect for some airflow to travel around the sides of the drive.

For the LED, which was blue, I scrubbed from this project, since I found it to be TOO bright. I found a yellow LED which fit inside the yellow brick. Then I glued it. I found that a CPU fan connector fit on the LED port, so I pulled it off the fan (didn't need it) and attached it here. Apparently, my electrical tape was stolen, so Plastic Wrap!!

Step 4: Cover Plates

Picture of Cover Plates

There are 3 cover plates, 1 fan assembly, 1 regular gray plate, and a vent plate. The fan assembly is heightened to assist in airflow. It sits on the far side away from the SATA-USB bridge. Then comes the plain old plate. The vents sit above the logic chips, and lets out the air blown in from the fan assembly. The fan assembly uses a 70mm fan.

Step 5: Modding the Modcase

Picture of Modding the Modcase

Ok, well, the case is pretty much done, after you solder the fan leads to the power switch, better if you can find the 12v. I haven't done that yet. This case is pretty regular, but if it looks to be boring, it's Lego! Legos are easy to mod, take a look at the 5 minute project. It's really dumb, but hey, you get the idea.

Take a look!


mrhacker (author)2012-09-18

nice job dude. im 12 and also made a lego pc out of a windows 98 laptop but my mom freaked out and took it away go here if u want to see it:

Ali8bongo (author)2012-08-08

Great project, the end result looks really cool :)

Matrix-technician (author)2011-11-10

To power your fan I would reccomend using a lithium polymer rechargeable battery pack. These are used in high drain devices like r/c helicopters or something that runs a high speed motor. They vary in sizes and pricing but I'm sure you could find a 12 volt one easily enough. I would reccomend getting a slightly higher voltage and use a 12v regulator. This way the battery will stay charged longer and won't work as hard extending it's life.

TheKingpin (author)2009-04-18

Where did you get the I/O port and all that from? Just from a case?

LemonSlice (author)TheKingpin2009-04-18

the external hard drive enclosure I used had it, i just removed it from the enclosure, and used that for my lego one

TheKingpin (author)LemonSlice2009-04-19

Thanks, I was looking on the internet and all I could find were big converters with also to SATA. But there were immense...

MCzone (author)TheKingpin2011-02-02

I took apart an old external cd drive, the back part might have an SATA converter plus power supply

TSC (author)2010-11-14

Sweet! sweet! sweet! sweet! All the do day long!!

FagnerFS (author)2009-07-09

There's one word to write about the project and your work: AMAZING! I feel sad, because i gave my LEGO pieces to my little cousin. I'm going to his house to stole them back to me! Starting the stealth mission... where's my night google? Oh Jesus, I also gave it to him!

TheKingpin (author)2009-04-18

Nice Tut!

boudyreau (author)2009-03-26

Next Project: Build an entire computer case out of LEGOs..................I think I might actually do that. lol

google's original servers were built from lego cases. It was convenent for them because they were small back then and rapidly expanded so it was easy to adjust the cases acordingly. Then they got huge a built tower/blade servers.

LemonSlice (author)boudyreau2009-03-27

If only I had that many LEGOs... There would have been an Instructable already ;)

NoHighResGames (author)2009-03-24

Really great idea. I'm very impressed. As a fellow poor Lego aficionado I can assure you that most of my creations don't come out looking streamlined either...or in less than 5 colors usually, lol. I might think about using this mod myself. Keep it up, genius!

Mario1 (author)2009-02-28

You can find a 12v rail simply by testing the leads with a voltmeter.

beatbft (author)2008-10-21

cool mod, but I think you can't get more than 5 volts from USB power, unless you come up with a way to increase DC (which is not an easy feat..) perhaps it would be better to get a 5Volt fan.... Keep the good work, cool case..!

falcotheimpaler (author)beatbft2008-10-22

Actually, since it's a molex hard drive, the external supply has a +12 and +5v rail,

I know, I wasn't trying to get power from the USB, but the external power supply. The SATA drive draws 5 and 12v but I need to find the 12v rail first, but I don't want to take the risk of damaging the circuits. What I mean with the switch is the power switch used to turn it on and off, but that only controls the 5v rail, so I can't tap into that. If I do, it spins, but not enough to make efficient airflow.

beatbft (author)LemonSlice2008-10-22

Yeah youre right, so if you got the 12 volts maybe you can change the switch to a double pole to control both 12 and 5v.

LemonSlice (author)beatbft2008-10-22

I don't really plan on doing a lot of soldering, and as a 13 year old, I have a really limited supply of electrical parts. Hopefully, the switch shuts down the entire logic board, and the 12v rails as well. Then I can tap the 12v. The thing is, I installed a second fan (will update soon) and at 5v, hopefully will generate enough airflow. Also, I can't tap into the 12v and add a switch because I do not want to risk damaging the board.

Mario1 (author)LemonSlice2009-02-28

I'm 13 too and i have plenty of "electrical parts" that a 30 year old thinkgeek fan would have :D What are your limitations ? I often use all of the stuff i have.... The last time that i used a PIC microcontroller was when my mom had a birthday and i wanted to make her a nice LED dot matrix display :D

jotism (author)LemonSlice2009-02-20

I don't, Ive got loads of electrical stuff I'll probably never use (lol) and I am 13. If you want any, just ask, or go to the JOT shop in the forums.

jotism (author)LemonSlice2009-02-20

If you dont mind taking the side off ur PC. just use one of the fan plugs for the computers fans if you have any spare, if not, just splice a fan lead and wrap the wires wound it.

GorillazMiko (author)2009-01-02

If you want the data, you'll have to go through me!! LOL, nice.

LemonSlice (author)GorillazMiko2009-01-03

A few weeks ago I couldn't get the data actually, cuz of some stupid windows file permissions error.... I moved the drive to a different computer. Just rest assured, when you build the drive and get one of those dudes, they won't stop you from getting your data, WINDOWS WILL!! :D

jotism (author)LemonSlice2009-02-20

That is cos windows sucks Ubuntu's emm... orangeness!!! Just like this website is orange.

LemonSlice (author)jotism2009-02-20

lol, yea, you're right

jotism (author)LemonSlice2009-02-20

Wat OS r u runnin???

blakeredfield (author)2009-02-02

Young dude, if you can a) write so well, b) love building things and figuring things out and c) have the understanding of physics necessary to contemplate the dissipation of heat in your system, then don't let anyone keep you out of school! Excellent mod 10/10. Keep em coming!

mixadj (author)2009-01-20

Dang I didn't pick up my first iron till I was 14. By the way, nice instructable. I think I'm going to have to raid the old Lego bin that's been gathering dust.

LemonSlice (author)mixadj2009-01-21

I had to raid the stuff I already built to get these parts. :D

jschmadeke4life (author)2008-12-16

Great write up - I appreciate you taking the time to share this with us!

Thanks, it was fun making an instructable.

tubbsey88 (author)2008-10-22

nice job, i like "dumb" lego projects too. I built my own "iHome" outta legos, so nice work.

abadfart (author)2008-10-21

woo Legos

frollard (author)2008-10-19

For a 13-year-old you have better writing skills than most adults I know :) Fun project!

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