Intro: How to Make a Steampunk USB Flash Drive
Have you ever wanted a USB flash drive that was a little bit more than just a regular plastic one? Are you a fan of the steampunk genre? In this instructable I will show you how to make my kind of steampunk flash drive. This is not a project for the beginner. You will need to know how to solder using a torch. Silver solder is a little tricky.
This drive is now for sale at my ETSY shop:
I will be attending the steampunk worlds fair this weekend, May 16th to the 18th. I hope to see you all there. i will have my ETSY shop on vacation mode while I am out of town. You should get the items you want before midnight tonight. Other wise you will have to wait till next week, if the items are still available...
Pipe cutter, Jewelers saw, Torch, Solder pick, Solder plate (I use a turned over ceramic tile), dremel or flex shaft with attachments, files, pliers, cutters, hammers, mandrels, usb male end, sandpaper, est…
Usb flash drive, Brass tubing, Copper plate, Silver, copper, & or brass wire. A stone to go over the LED, silver solder, epoxy
The first thing to do is to take the drive out of the plastic housing that it came in. I like to do this so I can check the where the LED is & how bright it is. At this point you can also check what stones will work with the color of the LED. I tend to use the same color stone as the light. I have also used white moonstone, which shows the color really well. If you are really good you can change out the LED for a different color, or add a second LED.
After that the next step is to cut the brass pipe down for the housing & cap. This is where I use the pipe cutter. Use the files or sandpaper to get a nice flat edge to the pieces of the pipe. Next I used the torch to anneal them, then the hammer to start turning them oval. I used a mandrel to keep the shape I wanted.
The copper plate is next to work on. I first cut it into strips, then the strips to a size just bigger than the oval of the brass tube. You will need four of them. Two of which you need to cut a rectangle in for the plug part of the drive. I have a few of the plug that are not on drives I use as tools for the alterations I do. Drill a hole in the place to be cut out for the plug, & remove the rest with the jewelers saw. I tend to cut it a little on the small side, so I can be a little more accurate with the fit. For the final fit I use needle files.
Next is soldering the pieces just cut out of the plugs to one side of the smaller & larger brass tubes. It is hard to get them lined up to one another, but get it as close as you can. I use a pickle pot to clean the metal, you can get away with out but I don’t recommend it. Soldering with a silver solder on brass & copper leaves plenty of fire scale. Without the pickle you need to sand, or file the fire scale off for soldering other things on.
Out of the pickle I use the plug not on the drive, with some instant krazy glue to keep the cap & main body together. Once solidly together grind, file, or sand the copper plates smooth with the contours of the brass tubes. This is where the thickness of the tube makes the difference. If you were slightly off before with the alignment of the cap, & body you can file them more to match if the tubing is thicker. I like to drill out a small hole in between the cap & the main body of the drive. I do this so I can add a small bit of silver to the cap. This makes the cap only fit one way.
Once that is done break the cap & body apart. Solder the top plate to the cap & pickle. Use some brass stripping to make an oval. This will be soldered to the last copper plate to be used as the end cap for the body of the drive. Make sure the oval is a tight enough fit to the tube. Solder to the copper plate. After pickling glue it onto the end & file both the top of the cap & the bottom of the body with the end plate.
To find the place to drill for the light of the LED to lay the drive on the top of the housing in the place it would be inside. Scrape a mark in the tube & set the drive aside. Drill a small hole, & check the placement of the hole by putting the drive in. Take the drive out. Use a strip of copper to make a bezel for the stone. Solder the bezel to the housing. Drill out the brass more leaving a small amount for the stone to sit on.
At this point the drive is a plank slate. You can make into just about anything. I added a few wires to give it a little character. I also added silver strips to the back of the of both the cap & main housing. This will allow the owner to wear it on a necklace with out oxidizing as easily. When you have added the last bit to make your drive more interesting, no more using the torch, it is time to set the stone. Place the stone in & smooth the bezel down. There a few places to look up how to do that, so I won’t get into it.
I use a fast acting oxidizing agent to make it look older than it should be. I also take time to cover the drive with a two part epoxy. This will make the drive a bit more resistant to water. It is best to keep this as thin as possible. Once that has cured use the same epoxy to keep the drive in the housing you just created. I use a syringe to get the epoxy down into the housing after the drive is in. Spread the epoxy around where the plug & copper plate connect. Also add epoxy to the sides of the drive in the back to help support it. Glue the end cap on & when the epoxy cures you are done. The last step is to check that the drive is working alright & the stone lights up.