Introduction: Steampunk 4 Gig USB Drive

This drive is made of brass, copper, solder, watch parts and glass.

The cap screws on securely and the glass lights up blue when transferring data.

I like to think of this as a USB drive from the 1800s.

4 gig USB drive with Windows ready boost.

More of my work can be viewer here:


TheWhiplash made it! (author)2010-03-24

I was just wondering how you found the glass for the back? did u use an old light bulb or what? This is really cool! thanks for posting.

Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2010-03-24

Thank you,
It's a car headlight bulb I found at the local salvage yard. I do a lot of work with glass and have a special glass grinder that keeps the work wet while cutting. I'm not sure how you would cut one if you don't have access to a tool like that. The "heat and cool" method won't work and a traditional scoring glass cutter won't work either. A place that does custom glass work should be able to do it very easily.

fstop570 made it! (author)fstop5702014-09-10

Hello :-)

I'm wondering if you can give me a link to the type of tool you use for cutting the glass. I used a regular scoring for a vacuum tube and it came out ok but a little chipping here and there.


Kaelessin made it! (author)Kaelessin2010-06-29

Ah i knew that shape was familiar . . .I just replaced my old headlights and now actually have a legitimate reason for having kept the dead bulb!

jseverance made it! (author)2011-11-17

Old thread, but in case Reader is looking for general technique/info- for patina ("antiqued" finish) use Liver of Sulphur on brass, copper, silver, etc. There are other techniques (hard boiled eggs, ammonia/salt, vinegar/salt, etc) depending on the metal you are using, the depth/type of color you are looking for and the size of your piece. Google patina info. I've been successful using lower temp solder & hand-held butane torches for art/jewelry pieces- I've only needed to braze weight-bearing or structural work. Also, I've cut, ground to shape, finished edges & etched headlights and other high-temper glass with my Dremel (with extension) and a cordless drill. The sanding disc for the drill takes grinding plates just as well. :)

Steamworkshop, these are beautiful! Your attention to detail is fantastic! And I do envy you your "real" torches. :)

MurphyHarris made it! (author)2011-03-18

the spiral looks great in the car light bulb.

J.A.R.V.I.S. made it! (author)2011-02-19

Great! How do you build it?!?!

prosper58 made it! (author)2011-01-20

What kind of solder would you use to do something like this? I haven't found any info that's descriptive enough. All i see is "solder", and not what kind. So far I've had to use hot glue to keep things together in my steampunk projects (which is a bad idea because of the residue). Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me a kind of solder that works for this.

Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2011-01-23

Most of the connections are are brazed with silver solder. It requires very hot temps that can only be reached with a fuel/oxygen torch. I use oxy/ acetylene.

The wire on the top is held with plumbers solder fron the hardware store and a 100 watt soldering iron. I don't use that solder anymore. I braze everything now and only use the soldering iron for electrical soldering.

Chronos2187 made it! (author)2011-01-17

How do you secure the usb drive in the middle inside the tube?

Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2011-01-19

It's held in place with two part epoxy. I fill the plug end of the tube with epoxy before I slide the USB plug through. That way the plug is also held with the epoxy so it's very strong.

It helps to fill stick a piece of rolled up tissue in the plug to keep epoxy out of it.

-max- made it! (author)2010-03-27

COOL!!! it looks all vintigy and old, but its hold 4 gigs!!!

fireraisr made it! (author)2010-03-22

 Wow Man, I can't believe all the flak you are getting for this posting. Great build, it's truly a work of art. It's sad that there are people on here that want to beat you down because you linked to a store they could buy this piece from. In my opinion the slideshow itself is an instructable. Seeing the finished product of a skilled hand can be more educational than a 20 step instructable made by someone that has no idea what they are doing. Art is Art and we can learn a great deal just by looking at Art, otherwise we wouldn't have museums. Thanks for immortalizing your piece by posting it here.

alovon made it! (author)2010-03-19

This looks great! A very nice job over-all. The LED is a cool detail as well!

Steamworkshop made it! (author)2010-03-15

Thanks for the nice comments. I'd be happy to share some more details. This was my first slideshow and I never dreamed that it would generate so many views and comments.

The body and cap are made from copper and brass plumbing fixtures/pipes that I found in various flea markets, thrift shops etc... They could also be purchased new at hardware stores.

I use hard solder (1300 degrees) and an oxygen/ acetylene torch for most of the metal connections. The other metal connections are made with soft solder (375) degrees and a soldering iron or propane torch.

To shape the metal I use a bench grinder, belt sander, angle grinder, rotary tool, various files and sandpapers.

The light is from the existing LED on the USB card. There was no electrical work involved in this piece. I just made sure to design the case to show off the light.

There are no secret techniques used here. Grinding, soldering, scavenging and a lot of time.

nekojce made it! (author)2010-03-07

Great Job!

Plasmana made it! (author)2010-03-07

That is actually very nice piece of work! Steampunk is not really my style, but Im beginning to like it, I might even try make one when I get a chance...

Frogzard101 made it! (author)2010-03-06

superb build sir. any chance of a how-to instructable?

Grooby made it! (author)2010-03-06
Won’t it be heavy? But it’s very cool.
eshan made it! (author)2010-03-06


weaponscollector94 made it! (author)2010-03-04

hate to ask, but what exactly is "steampunk" is it a certain style?

Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2010-03-05

It is a style. It's broad and kind of hard to nail down. Think of combining modern Syfy with with the look of 1800s industrial and you'll be close. The best way to find out about it is to google it.

gokartninja made it! (author)gokartninja2010-03-05

It's kinda hard to explain, but it's like a sci-fi subgenre

anonymousrandomguy made it! (author)anonymousrandomguy2010-03-05

Yeah, from what I gather it's rather like:
What would the past have been like if everything was powered by steam (and typically has copper and brass parts).
Google it up, it's quite cool.

weaponscollector94 made it! (author)weaponscollector942010-03-05

groovy! i aught to try that sometime! lol

godofal made it! (author)2010-03-05

this looks completely amazing!

instructabalize it please!!!

XOIIO made it! (author)2010-03-04

Damn. That is sweet!

xenor made it! (author)2010-03-04

Love the idea of using a screw cap for the lid. Hides the business end really well and it's a lot harder to lose the thing. Nice work!

Steamworkshop made it! (author)2010-03-04

Thanks everyone. I'm happy to answer specific questions and help with technique.

Finding parts:
You have to be creative. I love flea markets, thrift stores, lower end antique shops and auto salvage "U-pull it" yarsds.
Old copper pipes, brass fittings and wire can go a long way. The brass fittings can be ground into cool shapes with a gringder and files.

Here's a link to a forum discussion where I broke down the techniques used on this piece and answered a lot of questions.,22570.0.html

Untold made it! (author)2010-03-04

Isn't steampunk as much about art as it is about engineering?  Detailed instructions aren't appropriate for a piece of art.  This is beautiful work that inspires me to try and figure out how to do my own (different) version.  Many thanks for posting the pictures.

grunff made it! (author)2010-03-04

Beautiful work Steamworkshop, thanks for sharing. Don't worry about all the "we want instructions" posts - a slideshow is far better than no slideshow.

Can you tell me how you worked the glass? How did you cut it off, and how did you grind it? I don't have any glass experience.

wocket made it! (author)2010-03-04

I'd love to see an instructable of this, even if it's just with a few sketches and info on how to make the light switch on.

amando96 made it! (author)amando962010-03-04

 yeah just get a usb plug, LED, and 220ohm resistor...

Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2010-03-04

The light is the easiest part. You just choose a USB drive with an indicator light and design the case to show off the light.

SkateboardingForLife made it! (author)2010-03-04

 Very nice design, i really like how the cap screws off, i think i will look into some-what replicating it

quincentopolis made it! (author)2010-03-03

 This is amazing, I bow before your greatness.  I AM NOT WORTHY!

sickdog74 made it! (author)2010-03-03

WOW! I love it! Well done!

bassclarinet23 made it! (author)2010-03-03

This is really great.

GreenPhantom made it! (author)2010-03-03

Looks absolutely wicked. Looks 100% steampunk but still remains fully usable (some other mods are too...gaudy.)

And FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP HOUNDING HIM ABOUT LACK OF INSTRUCTIONS. That's what a slideshow is...a show of slides. If you want to make it so bad then go FIGURE IT OUT.

ivan536 made it! (author)2010-03-03


designlogic2600 made it! (author)2010-03-03

Very cool nice work

bloomautomatic made it! (author)2010-03-03

Nice looking piece.  Where'd you get the glass piece?


Steamworkshop made it! (author)Steamworkshop2010-03-03

The glass is from a car headlight bulb from the salvage yard. I cut it off at the base and ground it into shape.

kperkins made it! (author)2010-03-03

Well it cool and all, but isn't instructables about showing how to make this kind of thing, and not just showing it off?

killerjackalope made it! (author)killerjackalope2010-03-03

Slideshows are for showing off your work without necessarily explaining the making, either because you didn't document or you just want to show the finished product.


pilotaz made it! (author)2010-03-01

 looks great!

Chromatica made it! (author)2010-02-11


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