Dead Drop

A few weeks ago I took part in something of a stunt. A number of participants would consider it a hack, or a feat of some sort of engineering, or something. They’re probably half right.

I made, in the space of a few hours, Durham’s first dead drop. The notion, put quickly, is to recreate the old sneakenet method of dropping data using USB drives embedded in the cityscape. It’s as much performance as it is anything else, since real use would have to overcome any number of logistical problems not yet solved. Thus, a stunt.

Here’s basic assembly. Using a knife or a screw driver, remove the case around the flash drive, to expose the tiny gumstick of PCB that is the actual drive.

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Then, using electrical tape, wrap the gumstick to seal it.


You can also use plumber’s tape instead of or in addition to the electrical tape.

Once done assembling, you need to install it. There are tutorials that say you should take a drill to some masonry to create a hole for the dead drop, and then spackle it in. You can do this, if you like, but I think that crosses the line into vandalism. And not in a cool, banksy style way.

Instead, I just found a particularly large hole already existing and placed it there. It can be removed easily, making it’s placement less important. The downside is of course that someone might steal it, but as I said this is more stunt than practical. And I’m only out 5 bucks.


You can find the entry for the drop on the dead drop database. I would provide a link directly to it, but that’s not supported by the site. It’s currently the only one in Durham.