The New LEGO Project

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an empty USB port in good working order, must be in want of a device.”
— Jane Austen, Specifications and Serial Busses

I needed a USB hub. The Doctor Who TARDIS USB hub that I was given at work during the David Tennant era — so, circa 2008 — had given up the ghost. And while my computer at home has 10 USB ports — 6 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0 — between cables and keyboards, mice and cameras, wi-fi dongles and hard drives — I was doing too much swapping around. I didn’t like it.

And then I bought a cheap Bluetooth dongle to connect my computer to the Bluetooth speaker in my living room. How did it not occur to me until two weeks ago that I could blast my computer’s library of mp3 files on the Bluetooth speaker and hear it throughout the apartment? That I didn’t have to mess around with cables and moving mp3 files over to my phone if I wanted to listen to, say, the All Things Must Pass 50th-anniversary edition, in my living room and dining room?

I am just so, so dumb sometimes.

The Bluetooth dongle is perfectly fine for driving the speakers. If I want something that I can connect to my phone for file transfers so I don’t have to fish out the USB-C cable, though, it doesn’t work at all. So that needs another Bluetooth dongle… and another USB port.

Hence, the need for a USB hub.

To Five Below I went on Sunday, and with a USB hub I returned home. I set it up, sitting it on top of my tower. (It has a DC input, but I can’t figure out what sort of DC adapter I need to power it, and there was nothing with the packaging that indicated a voltage.)

And I was dissatisfied. I had an external hard drive sitting there. And now a USB hub. And sometimes my phone. It seemed like too much. It’s a computer, not a table.

So I thought about LEGO.

What if I built an enclosure that would hold my 4-terabyte external drive and, above that, held the USB hub?

This held possibilities!

I went to the office on Monday, and when I left I brought home my LEGO tub. (It’s all off-brand stuff I bought at Dollar Tree during the pandemic, just so I’d have something to goof around with.)

Then I set to work.

First I worked out how the base would attach to the tower and be stable.

Then I started building a structure around the hard drive. I didn’t really know what I wanted, and it kept breaking apart, and I kept adding bricks to it…

At last I thought it was done, and I affixed the structure, hard drive included, onto the base. Then I realized I needed a front, so I hastily assembled one.

Somehow, this ended up being almost exactly the right size for the USB hub! I only had to build walls around to hold it like a cradle, and I was done!

My off-brand LEGO external hard drive/USB mount, affixed to my Dell OptiPlex

I should note that my basic rule was to use the first brick that fit my needs, not necessarily the brick that made the most aesthetic sense. Hence, it’s a multicolored mess. I think it gives it personality.

I like the little light indicators on the USB hub, and the on-off switches let me disable each port as I wish.

Then I noticed…

Close-up of the USB hub

The hard drive was in upside down!

So, last night, I carefully peeled the structure off the baseplate. My first intention was to make a few tweaks, and I ended up rebuilding the whole thing.

The rebuilt hard drive/USB mount

The hard drive is a little higher up, and the front is actually integrated into the structure rather than a hasty add on.

And I like looking at my devices plugged into the hub. They’re like little spaceships docked to a space station, boldly going where no USB device has gone before.

Maybe I’ll decorate it with minifigs later.

Sunday afternoon I visited Mt. Rose Cemetery in York. I wasn’t looking for anyone, I just wanted to take some photos of the early autumn foliage.

Downtown York as seen from Mt. Rose Cemetery

From the top, you get a clear view into downtown York. The domed county building is center left. The York Revolution stadium would be behind the buildings at center. I should have taken my binoculars to be sure, as I think Prospect Hill Cemetery would be one of the green hillsides about center. And the large building atop the hill center-right? That’s not downtown. That’s a couple of miles out route 30. It’s the UPMC hospital, where I had my COVID vaccination in the spring of 2021.

I saw this billboard when I was at the grocery store this morning.

Billboard on PA-24 for Dr. Oz, Wendy Fink, and Doug Mastriano, Republican candidates for (respectively) Senate, State Senate, and Governor

No, “common sense” is not voting for any of these clowns. And, in the case of Doug Mastriano, an insurrectionst, a proud neo-Confederate, and an open anti-Semite.

I couldn’t vote for Wendy Fink even if I wanted to. I don’t live in her district.

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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