Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Toughest USB Drive in the World

I was thinking last night while I was trying to fall asleep about the following question:

What do I need to do to honestly be able to call the VIUD the world's toughest USB drive?

While I think we're already pretty close to this point we'll look at a few areas that a USB drive needs to excel at to be called "tough":

  1. Pressure
  2. Temperature
  3. Acceleration / Shock
  4. Force / Load

The pressure rating is an immediate win for our VIUD: currently rated at 3000 psi it is at least ten times higher than any other USB drive out there except for the old Tyukalov which was rated at 2000 psi.

So far we haven't done any temperature tests except the failed 2 minutes at 1100 °C propane torch test on prototype #1. Most USB drives don't have explicit temperature ratings or they are simply set incredibly low but the LaCie Xtremkey is rated for 3 minutes at 200 °C and 30 seconds fire exposure. I hope I can beat both these ratings despite using essentially off-the-shelf USB drives since the failure mechanism is the plastic in the USB connector melting.

Most drives are also not rated for shock/acceleration with the Xtremkey again topping the chart with a rating of 50G. I haven't done any shock testing yet although the high-speed camera has been ordered and some basic calculations seem to indicate that a 50G rating should be easily beaten.

The force/load tests are really the most important ones for a "tough" USB drive and there are actually no drives out there with explicit force or load ratings. There are a few with unofficial "car/SUV drive over rating" but this is actually a relatively low bar to pass. Even a large moving truck driving over a USB only exerts around 2 tons of force which even our low strength brass prototype could withstand. Stress modelling of our Aluminum and Titanium VIUD design shows a worst case failure in end-to-end stress to be in the area of 8-10 tons. This would seem to point towards a win this category although actual destructive stress testing of competing drives will have to be done to be sure.

So while the prospecst look very good that we will be able to call our VIUD the "world's toughest USB drive" we have a bunch of testing to do first.

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