Introduction: Top Secret: Control a Hidden Usb Port With a Magnet!

Here's a Great 30 minute project for you nerds who secretly turn out to be budding spies or probably already are one.

Use this device instead of that lame old "invisible folder" trick that people can easily find. Use it to hide and store your plans on..... Worldwide infestation of a new breed of virus of yours, Information of bacteria you cultured, very important documents and yeah...Those kinds of stuff.

This project inspired me when i bumped into this Instructable, Hey thanks stonehenge360 For showing us that damn sneaky usb port, you really got me thinking man!

So yeah. Since spies are known to be really smart, wouldn't it sound better if you knew how this project worked? Well then, its your lucky day. Here's some information!

Reed switches are basically two prongs connected really close to each other, these contacts aren't your usual copper contacts though, these ones are magnetic! That's why we use magnets to control them.

Once a magnet is hovered over the switch, the terminals get attracted to each other thus, closing the circuit. here's more information about reeds if i got you hooked......or not.

Lastly, i need you to remember the pinouts on a female usb port, see picture 5. don't get it wrong, it might CORRUPT your storage devices, study, understand and remember it!

To my fellow nerds, please do vote for my project, i guarantee to serve you with more new and fresh ideas!

Update: After i'm done with all my schoolwork, i promise to show you guys an updated version of this hidden port.

It's design is still undergoing so stay tuned!

Bottom line, I suggest you guys read the comments below to see what i meant by using one reed switch instead of using all 4. I learned a handful of other things too like: there's actually a female port inside the cpu (still to be confirmed) and knowing that using 1 reed switch connected to either vcc or ground of the usb port would work just as well. This is why i love hearing from you guys! keep it coming and i promise to do so as well, stay tuned! :)

Scroll down if you choose to accept.

Step 1: Gathering the Ingredients

First off, here's a list of what we'll be needing this for the components:

  • 4 Reed switches
  • A wire stranded into 4 more wires, i used a salvaged mouse cord
  • 3mm diffused green LED
  • 1k ohm resistor
  • female usb port
  • usb storage device (ex. hard drive, flash drive, etc)
  • A magnet (Not shown in the picture)
  • Optional: a Male usb plug (removes the whole point of stealth) but needed if you wanna test it

Oh, we'll be needing these tools as well:

  • A soldering iron
  • A hot glue gun
  • A pair of precision pliers
  • optional: Super glue or any cyanoacrylate adhesive

Step 2: Installing the Reeds

Yeah, so take your female usb port and add tape to the holes seen underneath, just like on the first picture

Then solder your reed switch to each pin. Yo be REALLY careful, these reed switches are made of very very thin glass that i hate so much. they break off so easily plus they're pretty expensive so yeah be careful.

Enough ranting, add hot glue to cover all the reeds, we do this so we can add an extra layer of protection,

by the way...don't let your hot glue gun heat up like the glue is already liquid. you wouldn't want this because first off:

  • the glue will spread to the sides and seep into the holes.
  • The reeds will CRACK, trust me i wasted 4 of them already.
  • You wouldn't be able to mould the glue to shape

Step 3: The Status LED

This part was pretty fun for me, just clip off the resistor and the negative leg of the led just like the one on the second picture, solder it afterwards. see the third picture

Then hot glue it to the positve side of the usb port see pic 5 if you forgot -_- (the vcc side)

Okay now that's stable, bend and solder the resistor Directly to the negative of the port (the gnd side) and then bend and solder the positive led pin to the reed switch which is connected to the positive (vcc) side of the port. see the 4th picture to see what i mean

Step 4: Installing the Wires to the Port

Clip off the ps/2 connector and reveal the wires,

simply solder these wires to the following pins:

  • Orange wire to Vcc
  • Green wire to D-
  • White wire to D+
  • Blue wire to Gnd

you can refer to the 3rd and 4th picture for this.

then hotglue the wires for protection.

Step 5: Testing...testing...

Yeah... so i just realized i couldn't open my cpu due to the special screws it had :(((

so instead, i soldered the corresponding wires to a male usb, see the fifth picture for reference. hover a magnet over to see if it works. see the first picture, it does work.

BUT if you actually do have a cpu that can be opened, lucky you. just solder the corresponding wires to any usb port you want, i prefer the back since nobody really uses it. then with double sided tape, stick the side where the reed switches are to the wall of the cpu, and that's for you to decide where to hide it. just stick a magnet over the part where the hidden usb port is then you're good to go.

shoot me a comment for your thoughts and suggestions!

Happy hiding!

-poch

Comments

author
tomatoskins (author)2014-10-05

This is a great idea! One idea, what if you only put a reed switch on the +5vdc pin or ground? That way if the magnet wasn't in place it wouldn't power your device. That would also save you 3 switches. Actually, if you put it on one of the data pins, the light on your device will still light up and act like it's working, but your computer won't recognize anything. That could be fun too. Again, I like what you're doing here!

author
Alderin (author)tomatoskins2014-10-09

My thought was kindof opposite of that: have the reed switch on the data lines, so that the port could be used to charge USB devices, but not communicate with the "host" unless the magnet was in place. This way, you could have a RaspberryPi or other MCU burried in the wall or built into a wall-wart for "dead drop" storage, but it acts like a simple USB charging station for everything except your USB drive with the magnet.

For more modern devices, have two reed switches or two SPDT reed switches (do those exist? One side Normally Open, the other Normally Closed? They should.) that operate opposite each other so that the "proper" resistance on the data lines is seen by tablets and such to indicate the higher amperage charging of a non-data USB port.

Very cool thoughts.

author
tomatoskins (author)Alderin2014-10-09

Love it!

author
pdrg (author)tomatoskins2014-10-05

Yep, one of the data pounds is enough, with the added bonus that the port can still be used to provide power to charge a cellphone and appear to 'work', making the stealth even stealthier!

Great idea, OP, simple, but good!

author
Makersauce (author)tomatoskins2014-10-05

you sir, have saved me money HAHAHA.....too bad I couldn't extract the reeds now :((((

author
Makersauce (author)tomatoskins2014-10-05

ugh that's what I've been so worried about! I thought there would be harm done if the data pins were constantly connected, i just started playing with USB devices so hey, i learned a new lesson! :D thanks for the heads up tomato!!

author
jerrymonkey123 (author)2016-11-06

I don't really recommend because if your magnet accidentally removed then data transmission will stop,and may damage files.

author
computergeek125 (author)2014-10-20

Can I ask for a clarification on the usage of the word "CPU"?

The definition I am familiar with (the one used in Computer Science) is that it is an acronym which stands for Central Processing Unit, a (usually) replaceable device on the motherboard, usually made by Intel or AMD, carrying names such as Core i7-4770 and A10-5800K. However, based on context, it appears that it is being used here to indicate a desktop computer tower, a group of components including the CPU, motherboard, graphics card, and power supply mounted in a case. Which definition is the correct one here?

author
EthanM47 (author)computergeek1252016-05-30

In this case, he was referring to the desktop computer tower.

author
cyberkeeper1 (author)2014-12-16

hi there. i see you are having trouble with the glass reeds. here is a tip: if you dont want cracking due to sudden temperature changes, preheat the reeds slowing using increasingly or incrementally hot water since the reeds are sealed with glass. no chance of shorting or leakage. what i mean is, take the reeds and place them in a small glass of luke warm water and it will only take a minute per temp change. i recommend 10 steps. start with almost water, and make it all the way up to almost boiling. you can do 20 degree increments. if you have a more viable solution i recommend it, but in order to avoid cracking, the reeds need to be heated slowly to around the range of the glue gun. ~ 300 degrees (F)

if you are uncomfortable with heating the units, i recommend using the Gorilla Epoxy. its very strong, non acidic and is flexible when dry so no chance of breaking the reeds. :)

author
awawawaw (author)2014-10-28

Very nice instructable and clever idea! I have plenty of those reed switches so I now have a project worthy of their use.

As for all of the comments regarding using fewer than 4 reed switches, having the data lines connected without power will commonly cause a false enumeration of the USB device within Windows which ends up with a pop-up message of "USB Device Not Recognized" usually. This of course would invalidate the drive as a "hidden" device since it would be causing error messages.

author
gogoguy (author)2014-10-13

I voted. please return the favor for me to my instructable at

https://www.instructables.com/id/HTML-username-and-...

author
script_coded (author)2014-10-05

Great 'ible!
I grabbed my electronics the second after I read the last sentence. Love it!
But I just got to point out that after som googling, I found out that adding the reed switches to all pins could make the computer sometimes not recognize the USB and in some rare cases harm and corrupt the USB. This is solved in standard USB ports by making the 5V lead a little longer. So only add the switch to 5V, just as tomatoskins and pdrg said.
But enough criticizing!
Great!!!

author
Sembazuru (author)script_coded2014-10-11

Actually the 5V (and ground, incidentally) contact inside USB connectors being longer than the data lines is so they make contact first (and break contact last). This allows the circuit being powered to come to full power (charge any capacitors and stray capacitances) before trying to perform any digital operations. Also, if the 5V contact is open and one applies a 5V signal to either of the data pins you may damage things by essentially trying to power the electronics from the data pins.

If you want to save money on reed switches, only use two and put them on the D+ and D- lines.

author
script_coded (author)Sembazuru2014-10-12

I read that the computer would disconnect the data pins itself if the 5V would be disconnected unless the USB unit is self-powered. And if you only disconnect the data pins, the USB will remain powered, which i don't believe seems very good.

author
Makersauce (author)script_coded2014-10-05

Really? i didn't know it could cause harm, could it be because maybe not all reeds would come in contact? thanks for the heads up! I'm glad you liked it! :)

author
script_coded (author)Makersauce2014-10-06

It would be the data pins disconnecting first that would be a problem, but as you said the switches not being completely closed could be one too. And I didn't like it, I loved it! Had almost forgotten about the magic of magnets...

author
dan3008 (author)2014-10-05

Many (but not all) mother boards end up with a spare usb header internally that this could be connected to. In fact, My new PC does, so I'm just attaching it to that ;)

Nice job by the way :) I really like the work you've done
just a point, why put reed switches on all 4 legs? Just on one of the power and one of the data legs would have the same effect, for 1/2 the switches :)

author
Makersauce (author)dan30082014-10-05

No way. are you serious?? there's already a spare internal port? Wow i really have to explore my cpu's guts. too bad i don't have it's screws :P

and yeah hahaha the other guys said that as well, wow if i knew that earlier i could have saved a dollar. but hey, learned a new lesson right?

author
Sembazuru (author)Makersauce2014-10-11

On standard full-sized computers (i.e. not laptops and the ilk) there are headers that provide a several USB ports (note, not normal USB connectors, but 0.1" pin headers). It is to these headers that the front panel USB connectors are connected to. You may be lucky and the motherboard provides more headers than your case uses, so you would have extras. Check with a manual for your motherboard. (Look on your motherboard for a model identifier and then google/bing/yahoo/{web search engine of your choice} search for manuals.

If your computer is a laptop, I wouldn't expect anything extra inside. Those motherboards aren't designed with extra features since there usually isn't space for extra anything inside a laptop case.

author
dan3008 (author)Makersauce2014-10-06

Yeh, I know, Its pretty handy. I only found out mine did because I was googleing for a replacement USB card (I needed more ports on the back of my tower)

I noticed after I posted the other guy had said that... teach me to read the comments before commenting lol

Again, Nice work :D

author
erik.m.brage (author)2014-10-11

Taking away only the power might be asking for a sneaky problem, sometimes the electronics can phantom-feed on the comm lines and operate "normally".

Had an instance of a serial line ic that would only work on the higher baudrates but not on the lower. Normally it's the high baudrates that error. The problem: the power line was cut (no reeds, this just happens sometimes out of the blue), so in bringing the comm line low for to long a time you made the chip loose power, but keeping it going back to high often enough (as in the high baudrate case) it'd be feed enough juice to continue operating. CMOS really has a record in living on almost no juice for long times.

author
dudes (author)2014-10-09

Great idea! I decided that a super-safe USB port wasn't safe enough, as someone could just plug whatever into a different port on the computer. So I took this a step farther and made a magnetic flash drive. I'll make an instructable soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

author
Makersauce (author)dudes2014-10-10

WHOA. THAT'S AWESOME MAN! i never would have thought of that honestly, thank you too for sharing your idea lol, tell me when you posted it! :)

author
dudes (author)Makersauce2014-10-10

Actually I posted it last night. :). Thanks

author
MachineHead1011 (author)2014-10-09

nice flashdrive. animo!

author

thanks hahaha I really hope I get in!

author
Ah-che (author)2014-10-10

Why 4 reed-withces ? One on +5V is enough.

author
TylerR1 (author)2014-10-09

You would be better off attaching this to some place on the computer case inside and then using an internal usb hub that way you merely have to put a magnet at a certain place on the case to access the usb device.

author
LewysM (author)TylerR12014-10-09

I think thats what he means by CPU in the last page c:

author
chrwei (author)2014-10-09

for a standard desktop there's often unused USB header pins on the mainboard that are meant to take one of these http://www.avadirect.com/images/items/MSC-SBR-2USB.jpg. you could use one of those and detach the metal bracket, then hotglue the magnet to any inside point in the case and have it completely hidden, and even have 2 drives!

author
slowjoep (author)2014-10-09

Question. Do you solder the wires at the other ends of the reedcontacts?

I couldn't find that in the text. You're talking about the pins.

author
NTT (author)2014-10-06

This idea has so much potential! I love it :-D

author
Makersauce (author)NTT2014-10-07

thanks man! I'm glad you like it :)

author
tim_n (author)2014-10-06

Can you reconfigure the inputs to the USB drive yourself so that the power wire shorts the drive? Just thinking you could have a drive that only works on a particular socket if the magnet is in place. If not it fries the device. Add encryption and you're pretty sorted on privacy.

author
Makersauce (author)tim_n2014-10-07

WHOA MAN hahahaha only someone with reaaally secret information would do that, so overkill, I love it! ahahhaha

author
Victor805 (author)2014-10-05

Very clever, now I want to make one! But won't just a magnetic switch to Vcc or Gnd do the same job as four of them?

author
MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-10-05

Very clever! Thanks for sharing!

author

Thanks so much!!! :D

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