"And as they stared in wonder at the glowing box the small device off to their left began to whirr and behold! a luminescence began to grow and fade rythmically while the box's images flashed and changed."

I've been away for a while but I haven't been idle! Here's the first of a few new Instructables on their way!

As an applications developer you can imagine that I do a lot of transferring data. Home to work and back, out from behind firewalls and back etc. I also need to store my own applications that I've developed an of course my writing so that when over at the folks' or friends' houses and an idea strikes I can immediately write it down or use my little tools! So you get it . . . I utilize these little drives extensively but, as usual, I was not pleased with their out of the box look . . .from the branding all over them, to the distinctly modern look, right on down to the mere fact that they are encased in plastic . . . ugh!

Solution: pry them out of their boring little cases and create something worthy of the high profile data stored within! Read on to discover how I applied my love of tinkering and the steampunk aesthetic to a more ordinary device than previous projects!

Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

"The bench, old and weathered and cracked, stood resolutely in its place. Upon its wizened surface were carefully placed, an array of tools and materials, the fading light glinting off of their metallic faces. They waited with patience for the morrow upon which their crafter would return to his work"

For this project you'll be needing the following materials (some of these are optional depending on your design decisions):
* USB Flash Memory Drive - available nearly everywhere these days
* Length of Copper Pipe (The diameter depends on how wide the circuit board on your drive is. I used 3/4"
* Variety of sizes of brass tubing
* Hot glue
* JB Weld or JB Quick (if this isn't available near you then some sort of strong 2 part epoxy)
* Silver soldier
* Jeweler's flux
* Silver banding (used for making bezels)
* An assortment of brass and steel watch parts
* Metal polish (I used silver polish)

As well as the following tools:
* A vise
* A hammer
* A torch (if you will be soldiering anything to the case - i used oxygen/propane)
* Needle nose pliers
* Pipe cutter for small diameter pipe (a saw will work too but the cutter provides a nice perpendicular cut!)
* Jeweler's saw and several blades
* Spring loaded Center punch (doesn't have to be spring loaded but it helps immensely)
* Drill with various bits
* Fine files
* Sandpaper in varying grits (100, 600, 1200, 8K)
* Hot glue gun
Of course this list is either too extensive or incomplete depending on what sorts of things you wish to do to create your case. This is just a list of what I used to create mine.
Obviously one does not have to use brass tubing, copper piping, and watch parts . . .you could do it with steel pipe, brass tube and old computer parts for a more dystopian/cyberpunk look as well . . .it's entirely up to you!
Part of the fun with the whole steampunk aesthetic is the creativity possible within it's somewhat loose boundaries!  I am a writer at heart and with luck will be so by profession sometime soon so for me a lot of the fun is derived in creating a background story for each piece. I imagine workshops and a world gone awry and provide little tidbits of this story as intros for each step. I feel that it gives my pieces a figurative weight which is enjoyable! This is an opportunity to express oneself and create something truly personal and wonderful! Leap at the chance!
Read on for instructions of the actual build!
Totally great piece....LOVE it....love the tubes, and the working LED. I feel like Sherlock Holmes was once challenged by the guy who owned that USB key! Great piece, and great instructable!!!! Fun way for us to get into the 'punking scene!
what you don't know is that my nickname among my colleagues at the university has been simply "M" Thanks for the comment! Post some of your creations for the betterment of the scene!
I saw a steampunk exhibit in oxford last year at the history of science museum. It was brilliant. I love the reinfusion of art into soulless technology.
"reinfusuion of art into soulless technology" <-- love it! Heh I wish i could see an exhibit like that! shoot . . .I merely wish i could be in Oxford!
http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/steampunk/album/?album=1&gallery=9 will take you to the photos of the exhibit. Also check out the scientific instruments! Drew
Absolutely love it... steampunk can be done well and this is such an example... I'll have to see what bits and pieces I can find locally and try it out... I love the gears... has anyone tried running a micro motor (or a mobile's vibrator motor) to make the gears spin and whir? Now that would be cool! I especially like the quotes (did you write them? or are they from a book - very poetic either way)... Thanks for the instructable.
Moving parts would be wicked cool . . . *muses* I would imagine that if one made the initial casing longer and left room for a motor they could use the power from the computer coming in through the usb port (splice in a couple of wires?) to run a small motor which could indeed spin the gears while it's plugged in . . .that's a REALLY cool idea! I did indeed write the quotes . . . I just made them up on the spot for each step (heh so THAT's why they're so applicable lol). I started doing that a couple ibles ago and have fun with it so I'm going to keep it up :D some day i'll be putting more than a couple of those kinds of things together and calling them books but for now I'm winning the bread by programming computers Glad you like the ible and the quotes too!
You used one of those slide-y type right?I'm sure you could make some sort of motor that retracted the USB once power was cut off.Might take alot of programming and a really,really tiny motor,but it's possible.
yep initially it was the slidey kind but after removing all the case components it's really just like every other one. It's definitely possible . . .size is negotiable too since you can always make the case bigger . . .after a certain point pockets aren't good containers any more
If you switched the motor to run only when the disk is being accessed (ie when the led is on) then the faint whir of gears would be present just every now and then... I'll have to give it a try... the quotes are a lot of fun and they really tie the room together (so to speak)... booker prize here you come ... again... great 'ible!
Finally a good Instructable on how to make a Steampunk USB case. I've searched for the last few weeks and have only found slideshows that don't provide enough detail. Thanks for posting this. It's going to be my summer project along with some goggles.
Awesome! I can't wait to see them! be sure to post the results
I will. Thanks again for the Instuctable and good luck on future creations.
<p>I love the story line. Great imagination! I will try to do this.</p>
<p>Thumbs up.:)</p>
Ditto on it looks great - nice job punkin it out. - love to see a cap for the usb end and then it'd look good enough to serve a dual purpose - as a usb flash drive and a cool looking punked out necklace charm - heck i'd wear it. ;0) again - great job Kaelessin
ooh . . .a necklace . . .good idea! I don't really wear jewelry (aside from a watch) so i never thought of this but perhaps my next one will be a necklace! I hope to be able to make and sell these (and similar) things some day and I would imagine necklaces would be popular!
<p>Lanyards for ID cards are commonplace, and sometimes for a USB drive, so a steampunk lanyard, sort of jewelry, would work well with this. Just a basic metal lanyard isn't so expensive, but getting a steampunk feel to it looks tricky. I would want a cover for the USB connector. How about some sort of pocket clip?</p>
Why don't you try Steampunking your watch. Hopefully, I'll post an Istructable on a Steampunk watch soon (when I have time, and a watch).
I have to keep a somewhat professional exterior right now since I'm in the consulting business but definitely a project for a time when I get a new one! (heh with a watch you always have the time! (get it!!??))
That's a timeless joke (I'm sorry, that was bad). It could make a great gift for someone. Keep up the great Instructables!
wow looks fantastic. Couple questions though since I've never done anything like this before:<br><br>1. A Jeweler's saw. Is it absolutely necessary? If so, where can I find one, and how much will it run me?<br><br>2. In your opinion, would it be possible to avoid using glues? One of the reasons I love steampunk so much is that it's mostly metal. A lack of hot glue/epoxies would make this a lot better for me.<br><br>Thanks!
Thanks for the comments and questions!<br><br>I would imagine you could get away without the saw but in reality it's probably the easiest way to cut the various pieces. The frames cost anywhere from 8-25 USD or so depending on how nice you want to go. The blades are cheap ... sold by the gross (144). They're for sale at jewelry supply stores (there's one or two huge ones in most major cities) or failing that they may be bought online.<br><br>As for glues: yes and no. You could solder everything except the last part (the end cap). There may be a different way than glue to do this last piece but I'm not sure. perhaps you could even make the cap removable so the casing could be used on different drives (in the event one goes bad on you or something) with a movable way to lock it in. You definitely can't soldier it though because the heat would surely kill the plastic and delicately soldered wiring of the drive.<br><br>I hope that's sufficient! Let me know if you have any more. Welcome to instructables by the way!
<p>Silver solder needs far too high a temperature for the electronics.</p><p>There are low-temperature solders, down below 100 centigrade, and I have used them for mods to metal figures, pewter rather than lead now. Pick the right solders, and use them in order, and you can assemble something such as this without the first parts falling off again. The standard solder in electronics comes in the middle for temperature.</p><p>Partly it's model railroading, assembling some parts with silver solder so they don't fall apart later in the sequence. Think about the connecting rods and valve gear on a model steam locomotive.</p>
<p>One option is a very light coat of spray varnish. Gloss might be too shiny, but it can help fix the final look, protecting against surface oxidation. I used to do this with painted lead miniature figures, to protect the paint against handling. Gloss varnish is usually tougher, but it might need a very light overspray of a matt varnish.</p><p>I wouldn't use paint, but a very thin wash of a dark shade can look good on some designs. Pure black would be wrong for this, but a mid-brown wash could work ell, with the varnish to protect it.</p><p>What works for something you carry in a briefcase might not work for something in a pocket. Pick the right plastic and carefully sand off the logo on the plastic and you might have the base for something better for a pocket. Just thinking as I type, but consider the decals for model railroaders. Were there colourful logos on some trains? It would need the varnish as protection, but it could replace the gears as decoration.</p><p>Why not a USB drive that might have been given to passengers on the Titanic? A metal case and logo could work for that.</p>
what's with the ancient quotes? O.o uber cool 'ible tho :)
haha actually they're only as old as the ible . . .i wrote them in there for ambience *shrugs<br><br>glad you liked it though :D
really nice detailed instructable - good work!<br><br>thanks immensely for sharing.
not a problem! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
it would be more than badass if the gears whirred during data transfer.. ;-)
agreed :D
Nice one. I wanted to mod my flash drive too but I don't have a damage hard drive. I guess I have to wait until it is broken. =)
Patience is a virtue indeed but should you run short on it you can find bits and pieces of watches and whatnot on ebay and other internet merchents.
I sell WATCH PARTS and many other STEAMPUNK items (brass keys, wings etc) in my eBay store.<br>Here's a link to the watch parts.<br><br>http://cgi.ebay.com/29g-Sale-Lot-Steampunk-Vintage-Watch-Parts-Altered-Art-/130420346565?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&amp;hash=item1e5da88ec5<br><br>Let me know if you'd like to link your website to my store for people to find more steapmunk items.<br>Thanks,<br>Carolyn
Here's a great place to get the WATCH PARTS: http://cgi.ebay.com/29g-Sale-Lot-Steampunk-Vintage-Watch-Parts-Altered-Art-/130420346565?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&amp;hash=item1e5da88ec5<br><br>Hope that helps.
I llike the writing bit... gotta try it someday....
what is that blue sticky point for one.
I'm not 100% sure what you're asking but i'll give it a go:<br>There are 2 blue things in the photo:<br>* one is a pipe cutter (squarish blue metal tool with a triangular notch and a wheel)<br><br>* the other in a tube is 2 part epoxy putty. You cut a bit off and mix it up with your fingers like clay and it will stick things together or allow you to create shapes that cure very hard.
ah ok - im talkin about the epoxy putty
what to say. look like it should. good work. where is the cap? 4stars
i love it
Great job! Congratulations and thanks for this. It will be a great present for my father. ;-) See you!
I know I would be thrilled to receive something like this but then I'm a bit of a nut for cogs and metals ;)
te he. 'nut' for cogs and metals. te he
exactly! finally someone who gets my humor! most people usually (te hee hee) BOLT!
ok now ur pushing it.
you spelt solder wrong
Steampunk is ftw.
It most absolutely is. *adjusts monocle*
if i had the time and money id have a full steampunk get up. im going to college for digital electronic tech and robotics so when i have money i plan on making myself some cool steampunk stuff.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a recent recipient of a BS in Computer Science. Currently working for an eDiscovery company as a web repository technician (hosting, searching and ... More »
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