Weekend Project: Flash Memory Hard Drive

Take an old outdated hard drive and teach it new secret tricks by increasing it’s capacity and speed.
Thanks go to Brian Nadel for the original article in MAKE, Volume 17. And to “gmgfarrand” for the original Instructable.
To download The Flash Memory Hard Drive MP4 click here or subscribe in iTunes.

Check out the complete Flash Memory Hard Drive article in MAKE, Volume 17 “Flash Memory Hard Drive”
and you can see that in our Digital Edition.

40 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Flash Memory Hard Drive

  1. Darrick says:

    You should be able to make a RAID set with those drives on Mac OS X using the Disk Utility application. Some folks have even done RAID on the mac with floppies just to make the point.

    Now I just need to go buy some flash drives to make mine…

  2. Wilbur says:

    There are tons of tutorials for building a RAID from USB devices in Linux, too.

    You’re out of luck in Windows, though. From what I understand, the built-in RAID-ish system in Windows refuses to build arrays from removable devices. You’d have to work around that “feature” first.

    If you were crazy, you could run Linux in a virtual machine (like VirtualBox), create large files on each of the flash drives, mount those files as loopback devices in the virtual Linux system, build a RAID across them, then export the RAID back to the host Windows system as a samba share… That would let you leave the flash drives formatted with FAT filesystems for use on other computers, and you could copy individual disk images around between computers & devices just like you can with any other regular file.

  3. joe says:

    Nice trick. I regularly see 8GB flash drives for $15 or less on Buy.com, 16’s for about twice that every once and a while.

    As for the Windows issue, I’m a Mac guy, but I think you should be able to combine these into one letter on Windows using Junction Points. Junction Link Magic is a free app that should take the hassle out of it.

  4. orangesrhyme says:

    Windows doesn’t allow combination of REMOVABLE media into one drive letter, but I remember seeing some free software out there that allows you to change the drive so it’s seen as a hard drive by windows. This should allow for building an array.

    1. Mark Baker says:

      You could try this howto
      to make xp think the usb sticks are hard drives. Then use this howto
      to make it one raid drive.

  5. BigD145 says:

    I saw a couple issues, one safety and one functionality. Using an xacto to cut towards the fleshy part of your hand? Bad idea. Not nailing down the USB cable within the drive? Also asking for trouble. You should have looped the cable on itself and made something to hold it within the drive. There are plenty of screws and threaded holes to work with.

    1. KipKay says:

      @BigD145 – Thanks for you concern. Fortunately I have been using X-Acto knives for about 40 years so I’m kinda fmailiar with them and am very safe when using them.But that’s still a good idea though to always cut away from your body. Thanks. Also, the USB cable was very secure inside the case because the opening I made for the cable actually pinched the cable pretty tightly.

  6. keithO says:

    I’m getting a “video no longer available” message from youTube when I try to view the embedded video…

    1. KipKay says:

      @keithO – Not sure why. Playing fine for me. What about this link?

      1. Jason says:

        For last two projects I’m unable to see the videos, same as the keithO, I get the same error. I don’t have problems view other videos oh youtube, just the last two projects, I even tried viewing from youtube site, with no success

  7. Will says:

    Was there a reason for the flash drive sizes or was it just what you had laying around?

  8. AndyL says:

    That harddrive does make a neat looking heavy-duty project case.

  9. Scott says:

    After watching the video I had to try this right away. Sometimes these “Weekend Projects” are a “Drop-Everything-This-Is-So-Cool Project”

    I found a USB A(Male) to B(Female) adaptor in my parts bin. This left the mod with a USB jack instead of a cord.

  10. One drive: JOIN and SUBST in DOS and Windows says:

    JOIN and SUBST in DOS and Windows

    Drive letters are not the only way of accessing different volumes. DOS offers a JOIN command that allows access to an assigned volume through an arbitrary directory, similar to the Unix mount command. It also offers a SUBST command which allows the assignment of a drive letter to a directory. One or both of these commands were removed in later systems like OS/2 or Windows NT, but starting with Windows 2000 both are again supported: the SUBST command exists as before, while JOIN’s functionality is subsumed in linkd (part of the Windows Resource Kit). In Windows Vista, the new command mklink can be used for this purpose. Also Windows 2000 and later support mount points, accessible from the Control Panel.

    For more Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_letter_assignment

    Sent by http://www.acomputerportal.com

  11. Tom says:

    This seems like a great project apart from the fact concerning the multiple drive letters. And actually I wouldn’t want to join them together using a software solution.

    So I was wondering if one could maybe soder the connectors of the USB sticks in a way to make them apear as one drive to any computer.
    I have no idea if (or how) this could work. Anyone?

    1. Chris W says:

      You can’t wire USB devices in parallel. You need to use a USB hub.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thanks for this information. As I mentioned above, I don’t really have any experience with that kind of stuff…

  12. gmgfarrand@gmail.com says:

    This is a copy of my project posted last August on INSTRUCTABLES:


  13. Instructables dude says:

    I think make ripped off another person at instructables. here is the link: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY_USB_quotHard_Drivequot/?utm_source=banner&utm_medium=usbharddrive_medrect and that tutorial was out august 5th 2008.

  14. Timothy M-H says:

    Dunno about Windows, you put me in front of a Dell and I’ll try to use the command key. :) On Macs it’s easy to do using RAID or Disk Utility, which actually comes with all Macs.


    Just an idea but you could try to wire it in series istead of paralell.

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