Bullet Cartridge USB Drive




About: I love understanding how things work. I also take a lot of pride in creating things the lay person wouldn't recognize as homemade. I have a background in farming, construction, manufacturing, and now engin...

This is my very FIRST Instructable!  I've enjoyed this site for a few years and decided to contribute.

Yesterday I was admiring the USB drives in the Steampunk section and decided to create my own.  With a few hand tools, a couple hours and some creativity I created my own.  This drive doesn't reflect steampunk but fits my personality.  I enjoy simplicity, originality and shooting sports.

For this project I started with two brass empty rifle cartridges.  The idea was to shape but not stretch these to the correct size of a USB drive.  I chose a 25-06 (same size as 30-06 and .270) and a 300 Win Mag (same as 7mm Mag).  Rifle cartridges taper so I knew if the diameters of the body were close the would slide together then stop.

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Step 1: Choosing/Disassembling a Drive

I went to Walmart and looked for a drive with the most narrow body.  Through observation it appeared PNY brand would be my best bet.  Luckily it worked very well.

1)  Take off the cover with a screw driver.

2)  Find the seam on the plastic body and line it up with you pliers teeth.  Gently break the cover.

3)  Observe construction.  You will need to design your body to match.  On this drive there is nothing holding the board in the metal sleeve on the backside.  We will have to come up with a fix later.

Step 2: Starting Construction

1)  With a tube cutter cut the top and bottom off both cartridges.  I'm using a Plumbers tube cutter.  I left as much body on the cartridge as I could so I can adjust later.

2)  Use a thick piece of steel and an angle grinder to but a jig the same size as a USB.  This is sort of a guess and check.  I used a sharpie and a caliper to get close.  Also chamfer the top edges so you can get the brass started.  Be sure to make each chamfer identical otherwise you risk stretching out or tearing one side.

3)  Stretch the cartridge over the jig gently with a hammer.  I used several very light strokes to guide the brass onto the jig.

4)  Follow point 2, grind a second Jig that fits the smaller rifle cartridge.

5)  Stretch the larger cartridge gently over the new jig just like in point 3.

6)  See how they fit.

Step 3: Finishing the Ends

To finish the ends I decided to cut and fill the voids with brass then sweat the ends and grind/polish until smooth.

1)  Fit your two pieces, then measure the excess room you think you'll need in the ends.  Leave room for the drive, solder, and error.

2)  Cut the ends and fold.

3)  Sweat ends.

4)  Grind until clean.

Step 4: Decorating

I love to shoot; obviously why I have brass laying around.  So I decided to use the head stamp of a bullet.  I dug through my brass pile until I found a 38 Special with good markings and a silver primer. 

1)  Cut and remove the excess brass.  I used a jar opener to prevent the pliers from digging in.

2)  Grind the backside of the stamp until flush.  This was the most challenging of the process.  If I used pliers to hold the piece on the grinder it dug in and ruined the sides.  I ended up just holding it by hand and going really slow so it didn't heat up.

3)  Solder the piece on the cover.

Step 5: Assemble Drive

Last assemble the drive.  I chose to use Gorilla Glue for this step.  Hopefully it will hold long term.

1)  We know the board in the drive will slide out the back of the metal sleeve.  So measure the the depth of the body, subtract the length of the sleeve and board, and cut a spacer to slide in.  I used another 38 special brass and it worked beautifully.

2)  Dry assembly and test.

3)  Follow the gluing procedures of the product you choose and be careful not to get any on the board. 

Mine started to bubble up the sleeve and was approaching the connectors.  I used the original plastic cover and cut a push stick to go down in the hole.  It worked great and catastrophe was avoided.

Step 6: Polish and Enjoy!

Polish it up!

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    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    what do you mean by that... i was only joking when i said the first part. i dont care if i am the first or the 100th person to comment.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    good job!

    I'm surprised that you did not suggest annealing the case before forming over your sizing die. This would be a good idea if the brass had been reloaded several times or otherwise work-hardened.

    To do so, you would simply heat the brass up with a torch and allow to cool or optionally you can "quench" it in water. It's the heat that does the annealing, not the quench so that part is optional.

    I think you will find that an annealed case will form to the shape of the USB drive much easier.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That is a great idea! I knew metals got harder under stress but I never looked up the properties of brass. That would make molding and preparing the ends for soldering much easier.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    if you were to actually reload the brass case (so it would be ready to shoot again) you would not want to allow the base to be heat softened, just the neck and upper portions..

    In your case, this is not the case. The heat can slightly discolor the brass, but I think it is just an oxide layer that can be polished off.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I repackaged a USB drive for a present for my wife this Christmas. When I opened up the original case, I found it the board was held in place with what appeared to be silicone, which seems like the perfect material for this purpose.

    However, many varieties of Silicon (i.e., RTV) give off acetic acid (vinegar) when curing, which could cause corrosion long term. There are some types, variously named electronics grade or non-corrosive, which do not give off acetic acid. It's a bit more expensive than what you can find down at the hardware store, but there's no worry about getting the adhesive on the components. Just glob it on and stick the board in place!

    Now I know what to make for the hubby. I think we've got a spare 50 calibre casing around somewhere that would be awesome. Great project!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    FIRST!!! hahaha...now that i got that out of my system...

    refering to the third step where there is nothing to hold the drive in, i know of a fix for that...SUGRU!!!!! lol you might also try J.B. Weld, but i think that has metal properties to it, and might be detramental to your project... but...i would try sugru. Cool project, and thanks for sharing!!!