DIY: my bamboo USB SSD disk bay

This is the story of how I made my own pretty bamboo USB SSD disk expansion support for my laptop, hereby possibly inventing the gadget category “disk expansion laptop coaster

2017 Peter Forret

As a photographer, I need a lot of storage space. As a travelling photographer, I also need it on my laptop. My current 13″ MacBook Pro is plenty fast, but it only has a 512GB SSD drive. I quickly found out that is way too small. So I bought an external SSD disk. The Samsung Portable 500GB version is affordable and it’s almost as fast as the internal drive. But it’s only 500GB. So I bought a second and a third. Now, travelling with 3 USB disks and a USB hub (since my MBP only has 2 USB ports, and I need one for reading CompactFlash cards) is quite a hassle. There’s cables everywhere, you’re always afraid you’ll drop one, or forget one. So I decided to kind of tape them together.

2017 Peter Forret

After travelling for months with this beta version (made out of a plastic table cover and lots of tape), I decided to make a real one, a version 1.0. Here’s what happened:

Step 1: buy 2 bamboo serving trays (26 euro, in Blokker)

2017 Peter Forret

Step 2: figure out how to fit a USB hub + 3 SSD disks inside

Step 3: cut out hole for the cable

2017 Peter Forret

To give you an idea of the price of this hardware:

  • StarTech 4-port USB 3.0 hub: 30 euro @ Coolblue
  • 3 x Samsung Portable SSD T3 500GB: 200 euro each @ Coolblue

Step 4: fix all hardware inside the bottom tray

Step 5: cover top tray with bubble paper

2017 Peter Forret

Step 6: glue two trays together

2017 Peter Forret

Step 7: remove excess glue and admire

2017 Peter Forret
2017 Peter Forret

Possible improvements

  • Size: once the 2TB SSD disks become affordable (now they’re still at 800 euro), I could build a 6TB version.
  • Protection: for the moment each USB disk shows up as a separate disk. So I use 3 different Lightroom catalogs to manage that. Better would be to have a 3 SSD disk configuration in USB RAID-5 protection: no data is lost when 1 disk goes bad, and you only see one big disk on your laptop
  • Media: a logical extension would be to include a USB CompactFlash reader. I still need that for my Canon 5D cameras.
  • USB-C: I think this would make it possible to also add extra batteries in the laptop coaster.

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