Could You Build Your Own USB Flash Drive

USB flash drives have permeated our lives and seem to be everywhere at the moment. Students use them at school and college for their homework and coursework, they’re commonly used at work to carry important files, data and presentations around and of course they are very popular in the promotional market as give-aways.

Most homes will have at least one or two USB flash drives of varying memory size and whilst some will be in regular use others will no doubt be languishing at the bottom of a drawer.

Today typical USB flash drives that you buy in the shops are at least 2GB albeit even this size is being phased out in favour of the larger 4GB size but, in the promotional sector, it’s still common for flash drives with only 64MB or 128MB of memory to be used.

There are lots of different styles, models and shapes of USB flash drives available but most are a variation of the original rectangular plastic design – to be fair the design of the USB stick has to reasonably similar to ensure that it can be pushed into a USB port on a PC whilst avoiding anything already into an adjacent USB port. It’s for this reason that some “fatter” USB flash drives are supplied with a small USB extension lead!

Build Your Own USB Stick

The core components that make up a USB flash drive (flash memory chip, controller chip, capacitor, crystal and USB connector) are available to buy on a single printed circuit board. The beauty of this is you can buy the “guts” of a USB flash drive and then build your own housing to fit around it – this is the ultimate in customisation project but opens up loads of scope to express your individuality through your USB flash drive.

Designing and building a USB flash drive is something that a number of schools have started to do as part of their Design Technology courses. Getting the design and aesthetics of the USB sticks right and thinking about little things like how you connect it to a lanyard or key ring, how the flash drive is packaged and what it looks like in the packaging are all key skills that design students must master.

The beauty of designing and building a USB flash drive in class is that the students will all have a fully functional, usable flash drive at the end of the project and as such its something that is likely to engage them and get them interested.

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