Glowing Video Tape USB Hub




Introduction: Glowing Video Tape USB Hub

Nowadays, usb hubs are getting smaller and smaller (and then, they fall behind your desk because the cable is heavier than the hub an then you have to crouch behind your computer to recover it)

So I needed something better (of course, i could have simply glued it in place )
I got some old videotapes to throw away, and suddenly an idea hit me: I like the look of these old tapes, needed an usb hub that won't slide behind the desk, why not build an videotape usb hub?
And some LEDs could be added to nearly everything, and an videotape forms no exception i think..

So save an old tape off the landfills and give it a new, fancy life...

Step 1: Tools and Materials

So, let's get started!
What do we need?

- One old video tape (preferable one of the shorter tapes for advertisments, they have bigger reels and less tape to take care of)
- One usb-hub (working, of course, and preferable with an option for a powersupply)
- The cable for the hub
- the hub's powersupply or a molex connector to power your hub directly from your computer's powersupply
- Two ultra-bright leds in a color of your choice ( and the right resistors for 5volts)
- a small switch if you want to be able to switch of the led
- some cables, one for providing power to the hub and some small cables for wiring the leds up, you will find something suitable
- heatshrinking tube or tape

Except for the molex-connector and heatshrinking tube, everything else was reused:
The wires, leds, switch and resistors came from some old devices i cannibalized for good parts. I got the hub with a broken case for free from a friend...So take some rubbish, mix it and create something new and cool :-)

Nothing fancy, just standards:
- Soldering equipment (iron, solder, helping hands, and so on)
- Sharp knive, for example a cutter
- Hotglue gun and hotglue (buiding something without hotglue is nearly impossible, isn't it? :-) )
- Some pliers
- a small screwdriver
- a small file

Step 2: Open the Tape

Make sure, there's nothing recorded on the tape you want to keep, because this mod will destroy it...
Not this step, but some of the following steps will do so...

Take your tape, flip it around and take a look at the underside of it:
Do you see these screws? Grab your screwdriver and get them out of there, but don't lose them, ok?
Now pick up the tape and turn it around so the topside is up again, make sure to hold it together, so it can't seperate while you turn it, otherwise the reels may fall out and all the tape would unroll, and that's bad mkay?

Gently pull the cover off, if the flap which normaly protects the tape comes off, too, don't worry it's easy to put it back on, we won't even need the small spring later...

Step 3: Gut the Tape

Take everything out of the bottompart, but be carefull with the reels, it's a real pain to rewind the tape up...
Of course, if yout don't want to keep the tape (which is just fine, but i think it doesn't look as nice as with the tape still on) you can simply throw the tape away, your choice, but in this instructable, i will show you how to keep it...

Step 4: Cut and Clue the Tape

Cut the tape and glue the ends tight on the reels (superglue would be easiest here)

Step 5: Final Preperations on the Reels

By the way: Don't care about the hotglue, I simply forgot to take some pictures, sorry...

An usb-hub is small, but we have to make space inside the cassette. The first picture shows how it schould look (exact cuts depends on your hub).
So take out your usb-hub, seperate it from its casing (every hub is different, so i didn't include pictures for this step, but many hubs are realy easy to open: just look for the gap between the two halfs of the case and pry it open with a srewdriver, and if force doesn't work, try a bit more force (but carefull :-) )
Take a look how much place the hub will take, and also look which parts of the reels will be visible from the outside through the "windows" of the cassette.

Now it's time to heat up your soldering iron, if you have an old, dirty tip, use it, we'll use the soldering iron to melt the tape together so it won't unroll when we cut the reels...
Simply push the hot iron through the tape and the plastic of the reel. Open a window or do this outside, the fumes aren't very healthy. You have to burn at least 4 holes, 2 on every reel. No cut away all plastic parts that are in the way of the hub, the easiest way is to slice it with a sharp knive and then simply break it off with the plier.

Step 6: Modify the Cassette

Next step is to cut the openings and remove the pieces of plastic which are in the way...
Again, take your measures and then slice and break. Better make the holes a bit smaller than needed and file them to the right size. When the holes are in the right place, glue the reels in place, but make sure everything fits...

Step 7: Modify the Hub

I wanted to power my hub directly from my computer's power supply, so i had to modify the hub a bit:
I took out the fixed voltage regulator (if the 5volts from the pc aren't clean enough, i would have other problems than a not working hub) and soldered the wires directly to the outputs of the fixed voltage regulator.
My hub also needs a bridge (isn't visible on the picture, i bridged it with a small piece of wire on the other side of the pcb) between the in-and output so the hubs "knows" an external powersource is hooked up.
In- and output was labeled on my pcb, if yours isn't labeld, take a look in the datasheet of the regulator.

I also removed the old power jack to have a place to wire up the leds later... But if you are not 100% sure, you could simply connect them to the cable...All the exact places to solder depends on which hub you use, if you're not sure, feel free to ask...

Step 8: Placing the LEDs

Solder some wire to the leds and search a place for them... You should try out different places and look where the light looks best. When you found a nice spot for the leds, glue them there with a small blob hotglue.
Then, add the resistors and the switch and connect the leds to the 5volt rail of your choice.
If you want to place the switch in the same spot as i did, be carefull that the switch won't poke out to much, even in unpressed posistion the switch has to be inside the hole...

Step 9: Power Plug

We're nearly finished. Solder the pins to the cable, bend over the strain-relief noses and put the pins in their case... Or simply use the hub's standard powersupply (but my hub hasn't had one, so I have to provide power by the pc's powersupply.

Step 10: Final Steps

Plug the usb-cable in the pcb of the hub, place it in its new case...
Then glue everything in place and put the video tape back together and screw the screws back in their places.
Plug the usb cable to a free port, pull the powercable through an opening of your case and plug the power connector to it in...

Step 11: Finished

Switch your computer on, marvel at the blue light and be glad about what you've done :-)
It might not have a great influence on the enviroment, but nethertheless, it's some reusing, isn't it?

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    jean v
    jean v

    11 years ago on Step 11

    Really great project... I ran across one of the images as part of a google image search on an relatively unrelated topic... i´m working on a design using old CD´s, LEDs and fiber optic cable...

    anyways...the description of how you transformed the video casette tape and the quality of the pictures you took made for entertaining and informative reading, a combination which i don´t often come accross...

    thanks for your dedication, attention to detail and effort uploading the process description...

    Great Job HarryM!!!


    wow that is really great! but i would have added an sd card reader somewhere on there. Love the led idea it makes it that much better!


    14 years ago on Introduction

    ...chuckles...... I wonder whad happen if grandma tried to put this in the vcr....LOL


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    vrrrrrrrr *tape flies out* Grandma:Oh wtf


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    hahah... must write "keep it away from the reach of kids n aged"... n label it "NO 18+" so no one will touch it....


    13 years ago on Introduction

    nice! thinking about doing something like it, but I'm not so good at the electricity part, grounding and all that xD


    14 years ago on Step 11

    Very cool idea :p I might have to do something like this with my own old Videos...


    14 years ago on Introduction

    this is awesome man, good job! I'm about to start a new rig and I want to figure out a way to mount this inside the case since it has a side window. It'll go real well with all the other blue LEDs that are already in the case!


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Normaly, I won't feed trolls, but this time, i'm simply too amused by this comment ... Answer one: I posted it in the green-contest because for this project, i reused parts that would end in a landfill (old vhs, usb hub with broken case, various electronic parts from dead devices)only the heatshrinkingtube and the molex-connector were new... Answer two: I don't want to watch this cassete anymore, because its an usb-hub, please read at least the headline :-)


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Nicely done - good to see one of these things getting new life.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    All of these years I knew that there was a reason that I have held onto my VHS copy of Delta Force.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    kool. but what is the point of it? besides looking AWESOME!! and cant u like personalise it and do stuf ft oit. like do stuff to it! LOL!