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  April 2, 2014

Custom USB Drive – Creating the “Enter” USB stick


We are all curious about the designs of some customised USB flash drives and almost all of them are provoking interest, mostly because of their unique nature. This applies even to a USB drive stuck inside a Lego brick or one with its electrical parts just wrapped in electrical tape. But in this article we will talk about another interesting project that can be undertaken by anyone or it may give you with some new, creative ideas of your own.

First of all, you’ll have to get your hands on the USB drive’s parts. You can either purchase them online, and we can offer you help with this, or take some old USB stick and take it apart. The only thing you will not need is the case.

After a quite short search over the internet, we’ve found people building their own custom USB flash drives from Lego bricks, film canisters, USB cable shells, iPods and many other wacky items. But one project has caught our attention due to its simplicity and creativity. We are talking about the ‘Enter’ USB stick, the USB drive made from the Enter key of the keyboard. Of course, other keys can also be used as case for your custom USB stick, but the ‘Enter’ key seems to have more sense than others. You ‘Enter’ the USB stick into the USB port and the key even has an arrow that points the way to do it. The reasons to use the ‘Enter’ key could go on, but we should get to the point.

To remove the ‘Enter’ key from an old keyboard that is not used anymore, is quite easy. All you need is a small screwdriver to detach it. But be gentle enough not to break the key. Now, if your key has a bar across it, remove it. Do this with the clutter also, as the key needs to be empty. After this is done, place the assembled electronic parts in the key and see if they fit properly. Don’t worry if there is room to spare, as you will handle that lately.

Next, make a notch into a side of the key, the side where the arrow on the top points. After all, you’ll want to make this USB stick as cool as possible. To make this cut into the key is not very hard, just be careful on your fingers and before you do it, it may be wise to mark with a pencil how far you need to cut. And after notch is big enough to fit the USB connector, simply use some fine grit sandpaper to smooth the edges. Again, place the USB parts inside the key to see if everything fits and if there are some adjustments to be made. As said before, if there is a little space left inside the key, beside the USB’s electrical parts, there is no problem.

For the next step, you will need some silicone or some industrial strength adhesive of your choice, to secure the USB drive into place. The silicone will allow you to see through it, to see the electrical parts on the custom USB stick, but be sure it’s not too cloudy. The silicone can also be a little bit soft, so if you don’t like that, use the adhesive. On the web, you can find some low cost industrial strength adhesive that is also transparent, so if you want to see the parts, but silicone is not an option for you, this may be the best solution.

To bind the ‘Enter’ key with the USB parts is a little bit tricky. Don’t pour the silicone or the adhesive all at once because it will flow out of the USB connector’s notch that you’ve cut. You have to do it bit by bit. Fill the key up to the notch and then set the USB parts in place, on top of it. Let the substance used harden, then add more and so on, until it’s up to the top and the USB parts inside the key are covered completely. After the adhesive or the silicone is fully hardened, you can do the final finishing, if it needs to. Some substances, when hardened, will expand a bit so you’ll have to correct this, to get the edges level, to be flat and smooth. Also, if you used an opaque filler material, you may have to paint it to match the key colour.

To make your own custom USB stick is relatively simple, cheap and can be lots of fun. Just give it a shot. We hope this article will give you creative and innovative ideas for your custom USB flash drives. And if you consider that your design has the potential to be marketed, send us an e-mail and we’ll help you in your endeavour.