USB hubs are getting smaller and smaller these days. It's not uncommon to drop them behind your desk, because they are almost always sitting on the edge of it. The fact of the matter is that the USB cables usually weigh more than the hub, so this shouldn't really surprise us.
Harry M decided to try an remedy this situation with a cool little project. He had some VHS tapes that were ready to be thrown out. He then decided to use this raw material for a custom USB hub, one that wouldn't slide away. Another great feature was that he decided to add some LEDs, because usually, you are rummaging around in the dark while trying to find the USB ports. The small LEDs solve this problem.
- Old VHS tape
- USB hub with a power supply
- USB cable
- the hub's powersupply or a molex connector to power your hub directly from your computer
- Two bright LEDs with the right resistors for 5 volts
- A small switch to switch off the LEDs
- Some cables
- Heatshrinking tube or tape
You'll need soldering equipment, a sharp knife, a hot glue gun and some household tools in order to complete this build. First, you'll need to empty the VHS tape of it's magnetic tape reel. You'll then cut the reels to make space for the USB hub. You'll have to be careful however, since parts of the reels are always visible from the outside. Next you'll modify the tape so that the ports will fit. This will vary on the size of your USB hub, but it shouldn't post any problems. Harry decided to modify his USB hub so that it's directly powered from his computer, but this step is optional. Skipping this step actually simplifies this build.
Take the USB out of its casing and find the place where you can draw power for the LEDs. There are different points where you could do this from. It all varies on your USB hub model, but most are standard. You should be able to follow Harry's guide without any trouble and find them. You'll solder the LEDs to a switch and resistors before moving onward and connecting them to the hub for power.
Read his full complete tutorial here. This build is quite fun and the end result is something quite useful. It's easy to make this build more elaborate, by adding more LEDs, integrating a lamp, a fan and more electronics into a VHS tape. It's also easy to keep it simple and to just go for the usefulness of this USB hub.
[photos by Harry M]
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