In this instructable, I will guide you through various steps on how to customize a USB Flash-Drive by modifying a toy car to become its new shell. It looks quite simple but it takes a lot of effort and in most cases, time, to do correctly. Ideally you want the die-cast car to be as small as possible but still able to protect the USB and look natural. (I use 1:72 Scale model cars)
You will require:
- A USB/Flash-Drive (For this car I used a small card one inside a normal USB metal plug/case.)
- A Die-cast metal toy model car of choice (I used a 2005 Ford Mustang GT)
- A Drill
- Handheld rotary cutting/grinding tool (Optional, I have made these before with just a handheld file but it takes a few days extra)
- Small file
- Paint (Same colour as car) in case you make a mistake and have to touch-up + brush or toothpick to apply it with
- Small wood offcuts or pieces of foam
- Craft knife/scalpel
If you look at the last picture, you will see that the interior is still intact. That is because of the type of Flash-drive I used being able to fit entirely into its own metal case/plug. If your USB has a circuit board inside, leave the interior out of your car so that it will fit.
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Step 1: Taking the Car Apart
Begin dismantling your toy car of choice by drilling into the 2 riveted parts of metal underneath.
Once they have been drilled through enough, the "layers" of the car should be able to separate. This car has 3 layers; chassis, interior, and shell. Keep track of the wheels and axles too because they are easy to lose.
In the last picture you can see the 3 "layers", wheels and the USB I used. Don't expect your USB to be this small or clip the rest off, this one was bought as a card USB and put into the metal plug of a broken regular one. If you are going to buy one for the purpose of adding a car disguise to it, look for the shortest one you can find, they are usually card USBs. If you only have a PCB board USB to use don't panic, that just means you have to leave the interior of the car out so that the board will be able to fit inside the car shell.
Flash-drives will almost certainly always come with a cover, which will have to be carefully removed so that the important working parts will be able to fit into the small car.
Step 2: Cutting the Car
The car I used has a large bumper and the USB plug is about the same thickness so only the bumper needs to be cut.
Mark an outline of where the USB plug will fit through the car (with a pen, ink must be wipe-off-able)
Cut 2 slits into the side ends of where you marked. I did this with a rotary grinding disk but it can also be done with a hacksaw or handheld file.
Break the middle piece of metal, in-between the 2 slits you just made, off of the car with pliers.( When I used to use just a hand file I had to file through the whole piece of metal because I could not make cuts in the sides) See picture 4.
Use a file of some kind to file the rough edges down (and the back rivet you drilled through earlier.)See the last picture for reference.
Make space for the USB inside by grinding and cutting plastic away from the top side of the chassis/floor as well as the back side of the rear seats and interior plastic, but make sure not to interfere with the pieces of plastic which hold the rear axle in place.
Step 3: Start Putting the USB Car Together
FIRST, CHECK That everything fits together nicely before you glue anything.
Glue the BOTTOM of the USB to the floor of the car. The bottom is the side which faces down when it is plugged into a computer port.
Ensure that it is in line with the chassis and is not sticking to the side.
Before gluing the interior layer onto the chassis and the USB, add some wood offcuts or bits of foam under the top end of the back seats. This must just be able to touch the top of the USB when the interior is properly placed onto the chassis.
Glue the interior layer onto the chassis and sandwich the USB between these 2 layers. Gluing the USB in like this will make it stronger and less likely to pull out of the car when removed from a computer.
Step 4: Touch-ups and Finishing the USB-Car
After widening the hole in the back of the car so the USB would fit, the metal was a little bit uneven the way I hand-filed it so I painted a tiny strip of wood yellow and glued it in to cover the untidy-looking gap above the USB. I did the same to the left side.
Glue the shell layer onto the interior and chassis layers and leave to dry.
Your USB-Car complete with interior is done!
If you use a PCB board USB, it will probably have a flashing LED light on the top side. Using clear glue (Eg. Hot Glue-gun), connect the LED light to the back of the car's plastic headlights so that when you plug the USB into a computer the car's headlights flash for an extra fun touch.