1Gig CueCat




You've seen them before. People taking thumb drives and putting them in different housings. There's the highlighter, the lighter, the pinkeraser, and many, many [https://www.instructables.com/id/Foam-apple-keychain-flash-drive.../ more]. (My apologies to those that didn't get linked.)

Well, I've wanted to do one for a long time, but couldn't come up with a good case. I looked around my office, and found nothing worthy. Then I started to think about the basement. My tote filled with useless computer parts that the geek in me won't let go of. Then it hit me.

I HAVE AN OLD CUECAT! And the 1 Gig CueCat was born.

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Step 1: Gather Your Parts

First step in any project, gather your parts.

I also used some of the following things that are not pictured:

-- Leatherman--you'll see him later
-- hot glue gun
-- modeling glue
-- various small screwdrivers

Step 2: Disassmebly: CueCat

First thing to do is take apart the CueCat. Four small screws on the bottom, and it opens up easily.

You may find that you have to get a small flat head screwdriver and gently pry it apart, or you may be able to take it apart with your hands.

When you open it up, you'll see that the "tail" is attached to the circuit board, and has to be cut. Once cut, the cord would not slip out. I decided I wanted to have the butt plug in place on the finished product, so I needed to get this out. A little pulling, and it broke out.

I lucked out big time, too. I thought I was going to have to gut it completely, and find a way to mount the flash drive in there. Turns out it comes with a little black box up front that worked really well as a mount/encasement for the drive. More on that later.

Step 3: Disassmebly: CueCat Part 2

So, I've got this little black box, but it's attached to the rest of the guts. Turns out that inside the black box were two little LEDs. They provided the light for the scanning. The circuit board on top of it was held down with some double sided tape and came up pretty easy. It was really flimsy, so it broke when it came apart, but that didn't matter.

I pried and pried, and finally got the circuit board off and the LEDs out.

Step 4: Disassmebly: the Drive

I got this drive from a free internet offer. I answered a few questions about retirement, reverse mortgage, or some other such nonsense that I have no interest in quite yet. A few weeks later, after I forgot about it, I get it in the mail. COOL!

This drive was really easy to take apart. In the picture you can already see the metal colored plastic ring pried off. Just a small flat head and a little bit of effort...

Then turn the screwdriver to the seam, and it comes open easily too. No glue.

The drive itself is actually hot glued down to the case. This surprised me, and worried me. How am I going to get this out. Just a little bending of the plastic case, and it came right off.

I found out later that this drive runs HOT! So hot, that if I had plugged it in as you see it here, the glue would have melted, and the case would have fallen off. I actually left it plugged in, without accessing any files, and let the heat melt the glue that was left to wipe it off. It was too hot to touch.

I checked with another drive I have that I can disassemble, and it doesn't run hot like this at all. This thing is CHEAP. But, what can you expect for free, right?

Step 5: The Planning: the Black Box

So, how am I going to fit these together?

Well, as you can see, the opening at the front of the black box was not as big as the USB connector. So, I had to trim. An Xacto knife worked really well at taking out unneeded and unwanted plastic. What I couldn't do with that, I did with my Leatherman.

Now, remember, you have to do about a half USB height on each side of the box, and you want it centered, so just be careful.

Step 6: The Planning: the Cat's Mouth

So, I want the drive sticking out of the mouth. We know that the drive is wider than the opening, so we have to open the cat's mouth a little bit.

In the first picture below, which I did just for you guys, I'm showing how the drive is too wide for the cat's mouth.

I took the box apart, took the drive out, put the box back together, and then put it back in the cat. This allowed me to size up the mouth.

Next I carefully cut away the plastic, a little at a time, until the drive fit just the way I wanted it. It's not perfect, but it's good.

Step 7: Testing the Fit

The drive was fairly secure at this point even though it was just a friction fit. But, it was a little loose. I wanted to make a backer so that when you put the drive in, it didn't push into the CueCat. So, I sized it up, and tried to glue down an extra piece of plastic with modeling glue.

That didn't work.

So, I tried some epoxy. That didn't work either.

I really didn't want to use hot glue because of the concerns sited earlier, but I had no choice. I ended up putting a little bit of hot glue on the circuit board to help secure it in place. I didn't cover any electronics. I figured that would melt it.

Step 8: Can't See the Light

I put it all together for another dry fit. No screws, just put it together. I plugged it in, and there was no light. That black box is too black. So, I had to cut a hole.

I also found that the cat's skull was a little thick. (Maybe that's why this thing never took off?) I shaved it down a little from the inside, thinning out the plastic so you could see the light.

Step 9: Final Assembly

So, slide it all back together, screw it all together, and you are good to go!

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    24 Discussions

    I heard that the CueCat was a flop on the market, but it does make a good aesthetically themed shell for DIY projects.

    Such notoriety of the original product provoking privacy issues with barcodes on a visual gimmick from years ago.  upcycling can be done on instructables.com


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't give credit in any particular order.  I just wanted to make sure I pointed out that there are other instructables about things you can do with your flash drive.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wow that's so cute~! But I have no idea where to find CueCats except for Ebay; and I can't buy online >.<

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    you can use those visa gift-cards from walmart/convenience stores on e-bay purchases I believe... and you buy those with cash...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    i have one of those! there's a simple hack out there to change it into a regular barcode reader. it originally outputted an encrypted string of characters (keyboard strokes, to be precise) containing a unique serial number and the scanned barcode. i broke it a long time ago, and haven't had the time to fix it.

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I did that with it a long time ago as well. I think we all did. I even envisioned writing some simple cash register software that could be used with the CueCat. Then I read the license on the thing, and using it for anyting other than it's intended purpose was not allowed, so I scrapped the idea. Probably wouldn't have been able to do it anyway.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    well, the company that made it, is now defunct, so no worries there. as for the hack itself, it's just a single pin removed from one of the chips. (on the rev. e version i have, at least.)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I hacked a cuecat, and declawed it as well.. No unique serial numbers, and straight numeric output.

    Tweaked the sensitivity as well.

    There is a UPC Database where you can scan items in, and add it if it isn't already there..


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, that's a really cool project! Been looking for a way to make my USB more interesting. Can't find any of those cute CueCats anywhere but for like $20 on Ebay. :(


    11 years ago on Introduction

    i did read the wiki for cuecat and it sounds pretty cool to bad i missed the cuecat era but the wiki said to keep them because the were gonna bring them back

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think it will make a come back, honestly. It was a stupid idea in the first place, and even more so now. Why do I need a device that will take me to a website when I can just type in the website name? Or, why not just start embedding qrcodes in ads, and let people use their webcams and/or cellphones for it?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    :) Nope. But if I was going to name it, I'm such a Star Trek geek that I would name it Q.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Do you still have the link to the website where you got the USB from? =P Awesome hack by the way, your link got me interested in finding an old CueCat to use for making a digital catalog of my movie library...

    1 reply