Steampunk USB Memory Stick (Flash Drive)




Introduction: Steampunk USB Memory Stick (Flash Drive)

I wanted to create a steampunk styled USB drive that would be robust enough to be carried in a pocket and used every day. Many steampunk USB drives look beautiful but have exposed gears or use vacuum tubes which are hardly practical to carry around.  

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

You Will need:

A memory stick the smaller the better (don't skimp on quality you don't want to have to remake this when the stick dies) [£10 upwards]
A small piece of straight grained softwood (or alternatively thin sheet balsa wood) [I used scraps so Free]
An old CD case [Free]
Cloth tape (I used professional sports tape from ALDI) [99p for 10 metres ]
Electrical bits for the top (I used: wire from a dead PC power supply, bearings from a dead PC fan, a small spring and a peice of copper from an old circuit breaker) [Free]
Decorators filler [around £5 for a big tub]
Scratch cover marker (could use woodstain or wax) [£1]
Brass effect drawing pins [£2.50 for a box full]

Utility knife
cutting mat
Sandpaper of various types
Steel rule or straight edge
UHU glue
PVA glue

Step 2: Splitting and Cutting the Wood

If you are using thin balsa wood skip down to 2

1. Splitting pine
I used a two inch by 1 inch lump of pine which was an offcut from another project
place your block of pine on your cutting matt, drive the penknife (must be VERY sharp) through the wood along the grain to split off pieces around 4mm thick.

2. Cutting to size
cut your thin flat pieces to size to form a box around your memory stick, it can be as big or small as you like but remember to leave space on top of the memory stick for you steampunk "workings"

Step 3: Assembly

The aim is to build up a wooden box around the memory stick leaving a shelf for your "workings" and leaving the USB connector protruding from the front. It may be simpler to stain some parts prior to assembly.

The size and shape of your box will depend on the size and shape of memory stick you use and  what you intend to use as your "workings"

Remember to fill in front and back of the top shelf with additional pieces and to dry fit all pieces before gluing with PVA

When gluing the memory stick into place with UHU make sure you get it in straight (it took me two attempts and a lot of cursing) 

Step 4: Filling, Sanding and Staining

Next stage is to fill all gaps in the box including those around the USB plug (make sure you don't drop filler in the USB plug it's a right pain to get out). You can also fill any rough parts of the wood.

Then leave for at least 24 hours before sanding

Sand the entire body of the wooden box, the more you do here the nicer the finished product will feel. Smooth off edges and corners, I also chamfered the back of the stick but that is down to personal preference.

Stain all the wood and exposed filled I used a cheap scratch cover pen but woodstain or furniture wax wood also work.

Step 5: The Fun Bit, Details, Details, Details

The detailing of the inner "workings" of the memory stick are down to personal preference I when to a "old electronics" look but watch or clock gearing could also be used.

Insulated wire was formed by wrapping cloth tape around copper wire rescued from a dead PC power supply
The brass and steel things with wholes in them are the bearings from a PC fan
The copper piece which looks a bit like a letter E came out of an old mains 15amp circuit breaker

The two brass studs of the rear of the stick where formed by cutting the pins out of brass finish drawing pins with wire cutters the heads from the pins were fixed with glue

Step 6: The Memory Stick Cap

The cap protector for the stick was formed from cloth tape scrap cardboard and masking tape.

The steps were roughly as follows:
1. Wrap the USB plug of the stick in masking tape (sticky side out), cut to length with scissors and fold over the end.
2. Cut small pieces of scrap card to size and stick the the flat parts of the masking tape sheath
3. Wrap in a layer of cloth tape (sticky side in), cut to length with scissors and fold over the end.
4. Add smaller pieces of cloth tape until there are no obvious rough edges
5. Pull the cap off the memory stick (it should be a tight fit and hold its own shape)

Step 7: The Cover "glass"

The cover glass was cut from an old CD case (without too many scratches) using a utility knife and steel rule

A fine file was then used the give the "glass" bevelled edges 

TIP: cover the section of CD case you will be using in masking tape to prevent scratches while cutting

Fix the cut section to the top of the stick with UHU

Step 8: Finished

Overall I'm happy how this turned out, the "glass" has a few rough edges so may be getting replaced shortly.

Pocket Sized Electronics

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Pocket Sized Electronics

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    2 Discussions


    6 years ago

    You could make the top with clear epoxy. Just a thought.