What is a USB dead drop? ‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. This network is made up of USB drives that are embedded in walls, buildings and other public places. Anyone is free to access, download, and upload. It is very similar to geocaching but with data. The first USB dead drop network of five locations was created by Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl in 2010. Since then, there have been over 1,000 dead drop locations that have been registered at deaddrops.com (Including one outside the Instructables office.) For a walk through of how to set up a standard USB dead drop, check out this instructable by user frenzy.

Up until now, this has been mostly restricted to urban locations. In this instructable, I am going to attempt to expand this project beyond city limits by showing everyone how to embed USB drives in natural fixtures such as trees and rocks.

Jason Poel Smith

Jason Poel Smith

My name is Jason Poel Smith. I have an undergraduate degree in Engineering that is 50% Mechanical Engineering and 50% Electrical Engineering. I have worked in a variety of industries from hydraulic aerial lifts to aircraft tooling. I currently spend most of my time chasing around my new baby. In my spare time I make the how-to series "DIY Hacks and How Tos."


  • wayne westeram

    Could you PLEASE not litter our forests with industrial garbage? Seriously this is not particularly interesting and not worth having yet more plastic and heavy metals polluting what little remains of our natural world.

    • DerShleek Meister

      Now you tell me, I just finished drilling out my 380th great western redwood. Sigh

  • Eric

    Wayne, are you joking? Whatever energy and raw materials consumed to build and power the computer you use has done a lot more environmental damage than a few USBs scattered through forests.

    Want to save the environment? You can go sustainably sequester some carbon by sustainably farming and never using modern technology again.

    • You are missing the point. By your logic, let’s dumb all of our old rusty musty computers in the forest too, since after all our cars are doing much more.. It has to stop someplace, and this is stupid. Use a can leave an item move on. Putting pollution into the environment less than a good reason is very very irresponsible and just wrong. I am surprised that Make would condone the pollution of our forests for some geeks semi wet dream. Seriously? An upstanding magazine like this condoning this?

      Wake up and Smell the Coffee…

      • warhol

        Your parents called, they have your Willamsburg rent in the mail.

  • Marc

    I wouldn’t go sticking things I find poking out in forests into my equipment. Just think of the viruses you could catch!

  • wayne westeram

    OK Eric where do you live, I’ve got a couple of containers of industrial waste I need to get rid of and your backyard is as good a place as any, right? What’s that, you object? Well then you must be a hypocrite because you are using the internet! Wow, specious logic IS really easy!

  • Peter

    I agree with Wayne, seriously leave the forrest alone, it does not need morons with drills and glue pretending to be artistic.

  • joe

    I like the idea, but I never understood these. Plug my computer into a usb drive that could have any amount of viruses and trojans on it (though I guess they’d likely be out of date and my antivirus would catch it). Also, how long before that metal corrodes from the weather?

  • Wilson!

    Why would anyone hook up to one of these? I could easily rig up a battery pack and a camera flash capacitor to a USB connector and nuke whatever device decides to hook up….

  • Marker

    What happens when it rains?

  • Csense

    This stupidity needs to be stopped in the bud.
    1) plumbers tape does not magically seal the thing. it would need to be encased in epoxy resin.
    2) rain WILL penetrate. Circuitry WILL get damaged. Unit may short circuit. Your 5V laptop supply getting shorted on the USB may damage the laptop
    3) Anyone stupid enough to plug their computer RISKS destroying the motherboard unless they keep the laptop perfectly aligned and stationary. USB’s are usually straight on multi-level motherboards. Screw that up and you will need a new laptop
    4) It will be full of bugs (real ones as well as computer types)
    5) Anyone up to this type of NON SENSE has too much time on their hands and needs to find something else to do. If all else fails go help a charity.
    6) End this stupidity. Grow Up. Please.

  • I have used items like this we have ones like this in every dj booth we leave notes and song for the next dj all the time if you like it DON’T USE IT. Wow that was easy

    • I would suspect two things. One you know most of the DJ’s who are going to be there or who were, and DJ booths probably aren’t in the forest and hence can be polluted. So WOW that was easy. Silly Silly person…

      Wake up and Smell the Coffee…

  • William

    Most of the forests I have visited are gone now thanks to urban sprawl, I love nature but what the hell, its going to rust back to nature in a year or two if the areas not built up by that time anyway. and why don’t people put a cap on the plug instead of leaving it exposed to the weather, etc.

  • I really don’t find the logic in this… While I do see the idea as being interesting, I think that, in practice, this is just another easy way to infect your computer. Plus, any dead drops that are out in the weather/elements will gunk up your USB port when you try to plug into it.