Monthly Archives: April 2014

Lego Key Ring Upgrade

A long while ago while I was at TardHaus, where I earned the alias Minion, I worked with SamCo to put a USB thumb drive into a Lego block.  We used a CNC mill (because) and it worked really well, but I’ve since lost it.  I was thinking about making another one with an X-acto knife and while looking at my Lego Key ring holder, I thought how to fun it would be to combine the two.  So I assembled the parts and made it happen.

I actually had the Legos and the glue, etc.  So I just needed a USB thumb drive.  As I learned last time, it’s hard to tell what the size of the flash media inside the drive is, so I ordered a few.

Amazon

 

For this project, I actually needed something with a reasonable size so that the glue will hold it in place. When the Amazon order came in, I took a look at what I got.  The Cruzer Fit is too small (as I should have seen from the photo) and it turns out the Cruzer Switch is all plastic (weird) so I decided to try the Kingston.  I made a workspace using a flyer from the mail as a cover (I would be using glue) and got the stuff together.  Full disclosure, I sized and did prototype work with MegaBlocks first.  I didn’t want to damage Legos until I knew it would work.

parts

 

A screw driver and a little force got the thumb-drive opened real quick.

drive1

 

drive2

 

drive3

 

You can see that even though this drive is larger than the other two, it is still mostly empty space inside.  The USB connector is bigger than the memory.  I placed the flash unit over the intended 2×4 full-size block to see if it would fit.  The last time I made one of these, we had to mill the inside edges of the Lego because the flash was too wide.  I was nervous about this because I didn’t think I could do this as easily with a blade.

drive_big_megablock

 

It looks like the little tabs on the edge of the drive would have to come off, but it seemed that this would be fine.  And look how much empty room is in there!  I wonder if it would fit in a 2×2 block?

drive_little_megablock

 

It looks like it will!  So I got to work.  With Safety Glasses on and working carefully with the blade, I shaved off the small tabs on the side of the USB drive.  Working even more carefully, I marked where the drive would go and I began cutting the MegaBlock.  I took small amounts of plastic at a time and kept checking if it fit yet, in order not to make an opening too big.  But I did cut big enough to put a plate on the bottom, without cutting off the caps (we did this last time).  When working with an X-acto blade, it is important to not pry or twist with the blade.  This is how blades break and then fly into your eye or across the room to be later found by your feet.  Instead only push straight on the blade.  After I had an opening in the side, I could cut out the support in the center.  This would normally snap in between the caps on the next piece.

megablock_cut

 

Looking good!  Let’s see if it fits.

megablock_fit

 

It does!  And I can put a plate on the bottom to hold it in place.  Unfortunately, with one side missing and no support in the middle the plate won’t stay in place.  That’s why I will have to glue it later.  The plate is in the photo just to hold up the drive.  With this  Looking so good, I decided to try something I never did last time.  I wanted to cut a second block as a cover for the drive.  So, using the same method as before, I worked on a second 2×2 block.  This time I wanted to be extra careful not to make the opening too large, because I wanted the cover to hold by friction.  Eventually I though it was good and I gave it a try.

megablock_cap

 

Will you look at that.  I love it.  Does the bottom snap on?

megablock_done

 

Looks great! So, with that prototype completed I began work on the real version using Legos this time.

I decided on a 2×3 Lego so that it was smaller than the 2×4, but still had room for the hook that attaches it to the key chain.  I also did make a cap with Legos.  Again, I was extra careful to make sure it fit snugly.  This is going to be in my pocket and I want to make sure the cap will stay on.  After making sure it fit, I filled the inside of the 2×3 where the flash was going to go with Hot Glue, then making sure it was in the correct orientation for when plugged into a computer, pressed the flash in place and held it while the glue cooled.  Then for the flat plate on the bottom, I used a thin line of super-glue around the edge and pushed the plate on.  After making sure it was straight, I held the plate until the glue set.  For the cap, I used super-glue only, no hot glue.

lego_fit

 

lego_donelego_keys

 

lego_capped

 

It looks pretty good.  There is a small bead of super-glue I don’t like around the connection that smushed out, but I can live with it.  I also don’t love the colors but they were what I was able to find in my limited 2-decade old collection.  I think in the future I will order new Legos just for this.

lego_usb_inserted AutoPlay lego_hanging