Introduction: USB Cigar Flash Memory (with LEDs)

Picture of USB Cigar Flash Memory (with LEDs)
Glows red when connected, brightens upon disk access.

A touch of distinction for your computer!


  • (the music is stored on the cigar, but played by the PC as soon as the USB disk is connected and recognized)

For cigar lovers, gadgeteers, spies, etc... and also for nonsmokers !

Gosh, I am too late for the "Get the LED out!" contest, so I'm applying for the "Pocket Sized" contest -- and I won't describe the pocket; to entirely fit into a pocket, a robusto-sized cigar should be used; and BTW a cigar has to not entirely fit into pockets ! ;-).

Please vote for me(*) and rate me high if you think (like me) that it's one of the coolest USB disks !

(*) when the pocket sized contest is open

Step 1: Needed Stuff

Picture of Needed Stuff
Before you start:
  • This project may take more time and effort than one may thinks at first.
  • It is not difficult, but it needs patience and skill.

  • A thick cigar
  • An USB flash disk of small dimensions
  • Some wire, 2 x LEDs (red!), 1 x 10K resistor
  • Wood primer
  • Some tape
  • A short USB extension cable
  • Very thin paper, the size of a stamp

  • Cutter
  • Drill and bits
  • X-Acto knives set
  • Files
  • Soldering iron, solder
  • Desolder kit (e.g. desoldering braid)
  • Hot melt glue and gun

Step 2: Impregnate and Cut the Cigar

Picture of Impregnate and Cut the Cigar

Remove the ring.

With some cloth, impregnate the outside of the cigar with primer. Be generous, but wipe carefully.

Carefully cut the cap end (1.5 inches / 4 cm).

Dip all ends into the primer. Let dry.

Step 3: Bore the Cigar

Picture of Bore the Cigar

This part is very critical. it is not easy to bore a cigar !

The goal is to bore the cigar through in order to harden the inside with primer (next step).

Use drill bits of increasing diameter.

Start with a thin drill bit, using a drill stand for perfect alignment. Drill from each end.

Continue with increasing diameters, but no more than the half of the cigar diameter. Use a cordless drill/screwdriver on lowest speed.

Keep some tobacco dust for later.

Step 4: Impregnate Again

Picture of Impregnate Again

Immerse the parts completely into primer. Use a box protected by a plastic bag.
It is using a lot of primer, but you will be able to pour it back into its can.

With wood pieces, gently press on the parts to force them to sink.

Cover the whole with a board and some weight.

Let rest for approx 3 hours. Check frequently: the cigar must turn dark (fairly evenly), but not black.

Pour the primer back into its can.

Let the pieces dry COMPLETELY for at least one night. I used my hot air oven to finish the drying (ONLY FAN, NO HEATING !!!). You could also use a hair dryer.

File the hole so that the circuit will fit into.

Step 5: Prepare the Flash Disk, Replacing the Data Access LED

Picture of Prepare the Flash Disk, Replacing the Data Access LED

In this step we will get the naked USB board, and replace the on-board data access LED by ours. This step requires patience and skill, because of SMD components.

Free the board from its shell.

Locate and unsolder the on-board LED. Mine was SMD, so I had to use my USB magnifier (another cool project).

Solder two wires to your red led #1. Connect to computer; if it does not light, reverse the LED polarity.

Step 6: Add a Power-On LED

Picture of Add a Power-On LED

In this step we will add an LED that will glow when the key is connected to an USB port. Consult for more details.

Connect the red LED #2 to the outer USB connectors. Do not forget the 10K resistor in series.

Glue and tape the whole.

Test. (I used an external HD with built-in USB hub, but you can connect directly to your computer, if you trust yourself.)

Step 7: Adjust the Disk Into the Cigar

Picture of Adjust the Disk Into the Cigar

Now we will adjust everything, test all, but not yet glue things together.

IMPORTANT: Wrap a small piece of thin paper (cigarette paper, or 1 layer of toilet paper) around the LEDs to diffuse the light.

Align everything. Test.

Step 8: Glue the Ends

Picture of Glue the Ends

Glue the LEDs end, using translucent hot-melt glue. 2 millimeters to let the light go through.

Rectify the LED end with a knife. Sink it into the primer, and get some tobacco dust sticked. The tobacco layer must be very thin. Test again.

Glue the connector end.

Step 9: Make the Cap

Picture of Make the Cap

Cut the plastic cap to its minimum outer size.

Make a rectangular hole into the cigar cap. Adjust the plastic cap to fit into, anf glue it (with hot-melt glue).

Cut out all excess glue.

Stick the ring. You may have to open the ring prior to sticking it, in order to give it a slightly bigger diameter, so that the cap will fit easily.

Step 10: Done

Picture of Done

Now you've done a great job. Use the cable to connect the cigar to your computer.

Step 11: Enjoy !

Picture of Enjoy !
Enjoy your cigar (but remember NOT to smoke it!).

Originally posted video:

Updated Video:

Jazz! what better, with a cigar?In the above video, an MP3 track stored into the cigar is played by the computer, as soon as the USB cable is plugged in. In the same time, data transfer is started, in order to show the LED varying. These effects are obtained by two Linux shell commands.

Step 12: Ideas for Possible Improvements

  • a cigarillo version (do mini-USB memory dongles exist ?)
  • a version that smokes !!!
  • a one-piece version, with a mini-USB connector in the cap end
  • insure it will remain very straight after drying
  • prevent from darkening after the immersion into primer
  • more realistic end (with white ashes)


Warlrosity (author)2010-01-14

OMFKWWLGOHMAHGODNESS!! A cigerette pen? Hmm.. A electric cigar, yes.. I see it now, a gigar, all sealed up, with a led... hmm..

Lokisgodhi (author)2009-09-04

What kind of wood primer is this? All the wood primers I've ever seen are white and dry opaque. The stuff you're showing seems to be translucent and dries to transparent.

laxap (author)Lokisgodhi2009-09-06

The wood primer I use is milky in the can, and becomes transparent and a bit shiny when dry. It darkens the wood very slightly. It dries in 15 minutes.

ItsTheHobbs (author)2009-07-04

I'm going to make one for my grandpa! You've got my vote.

laxap (author)ItsTheHobbs2009-07-22

Did you vote ? ;-)

ItsTheHobbs (author)laxap2009-07-22


laxap (author)ItsTheHobbs2009-07-22

(Actually I don't care winning --I wanted to think-- but now it's thrilling!)

laxap (author)ItsTheHobbs2009-07-22

Thanks !

Mr. Rig It (author)2009-06-27

Dude that is so sick! (as in cool). You have my pocket sized vote (somehow that doesn't sound right). You need an old fashion ash tray to put it on. Great instructable, excellent pictures as well. Good job.

laxap (author)Mr. Rig It2009-07-22

Did you vote ? ;-)

Mr. Rig It (author)laxap2009-07-22


laxap (author)Mr. Rig It2009-07-22

Thanks ! Two votes made it move from the 2nd page to the 1st page (sorted by votes). Meaning that we're still at the beginning of the voting period!

laxap (author)Mr. Rig It2009-06-27

Thanks! With an old-fashion ash tray and a copper-painted USB cable, it could be a cool steampunk accessory...

Mr. Rig It (author)laxap2009-06-28

That would be awesome looking!

Ktooms (author)2009-07-14

how do i know where to connect the LED's for data access and power on?

Marcos El Malo (author)2009-07-02

What a great idea! One thing I might suggest regarding the wrapper. Try moistening it slowly (with a spray bottle) and unwrap it from the cigar completely, then rewrap it around a tube shaped flash drive you have previously constructed. Use distilled water to moisten to avoid discoloration. You might not even need to prime it. For others that want to try this instructable, you needn't purchase a premium cigar (like the AVO in the example), but you might want to ask your local tobacconist if he has any cool bands (the paper rings) he'd let you have for this project. Be sure to explain the project so he doesn't just think you're going to try and pass off a crappy cigar as a premium. Another consideration, as I think about it, is wrapper selection. laxap, I take it that the AVO you used had a natural wrapper. Did you consider using a Maduro or Criollo wrapper? I'm thinking they might be stronger, and with the maduro, your priming process wouldn't be as obvious. OTOH, a Sumatra wrapper might be too delicate. Anyway, great project.

laxap (author)Marcos El Malo2009-07-12

Thanks a lot for your improvement ideas.

Redgerr (author)2009-07-08

man, this is great lol... very nice cheif, very nice

DanW1975 (author)2009-07-04

that is great...

lordofthedonuts (author)2009-07-03

good luck with the contest, your thing is awesome.

vhcl (author)2009-07-03

Cool project! very James Bond.

CerealKiller (author)2009-07-03

Dude simply amazing. You are a true genius for coming up with this.

agis68 (author)2009-07-03

dude u r insane!!!! grate idea for smokers as a git or a nice try to cut smoking 5/5

Derin (author)2009-07-02

Lol,this gives a new meaning to the term "burn your data on to a disk".

twocvbloke (author)2009-07-01

Funny, I refer the smell of a cigar over the smell of a cigarette, but still, as a non-smoker, I find this to be a better use of a tobacco product... :P Very cool indeed though, all you have to do next is to somehow make it smoke... :D

Enventer (author)2009-06-28

any man who sacrifices his cigar deserves praise good job

laxap (author)Enventer2009-06-29

My heart kind of broke indeed, while sacrificing this AVO. But this "dissection" increased a bit my knowledge and respect towards cigars...

SirBrittanicvs (author)2009-06-29

Very creative and nicely executed. For aesthetic reasons (and just to make it smaller) it would be cool to have the cigar be just a little bit longer than the USB stick itself. Maybe even make an ash cone.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-06-29

One day i bought a cigar in vegas and it had a stupid mix of news paper and tobacco.

PrinceJ57 (author)2009-06-29

Damn I wish I saw this before Fathers Day my pops would have flipped his lid! Awesome Instructable!

I_am_Canadian (author)2009-06-29

Does it smoke when your computer crashes?

laxap (author)I_am_Canadian2009-06-29

I wish it could, that would be cool!!! Or glow upon data read, and smoke upon data write.

itsaidhi (author)2009-06-28

this is genius

slipknotFTW (author)2009-06-28

you should mass-produce them and sell them

Arbitror (author)2009-06-28

I like the burning effect! Five stars! *****

PyroMonger (author)2009-06-28

genius...and great imagination to come up with this idea. this one i think i will definitely try

Bongmaster (author)2009-06-28

nice job :)

DuctTapeRules! (author)2009-06-28

Wonderfully insane! (and by the way, you look like a dodgy street dealer in picture two, step 11 :D)

JakeTobak (author)2009-06-27

That's insane, you're awesome.

laxap (author)JakeTobak2009-06-27

thank you. When I told my wife what I was so mysteriously working on, she said I was crazy! then I new this project is cool...

About This Instructable




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