Introduction: USB Cigar Flash Memory (with LEDs)

About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted.
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 11: 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)
Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest