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DIY travel SD card backup tool.

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Since I’m going to Spain soon, I wanted a light and effective way to back up my SD cards every day during the trip.  There were some old and no longer available devices on the market, but all had limited capacity and rather expensive... or bulky.   

I came across a neat project that uses a Raspberry Pi zero 2 (this is a much faster version of the old Pi zero) and also supports Wi-Fi.  I made one, designed a custom case for it that I 3D printed (I have files for anyone that wants to to this project), and can say it works extremely well.  

The device is extremely simple, plug in a target storage device (in the pictures I have an extremely tiny crucial 4 terabyte ssd drive - the square thing), plug in a card reader (in the picture it’s that very compact usb stick so no cables needed), and it will automatically back up what’s on the SD card.   It won’t overwrite files, only add new ones, and recognizes different SD cards so it makes separate folders for each unique SD card.   It has a screen that shows transfer status, and while idle shows you the ip address so you can log into it with a phone and web browser.  The thing is, with a portable battery, you can do this without even being near an outlet, and entirely in the field or on the go.   

pics   Lens cap for scale   

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here’s some screen shots if you want to log in   You can also get thumbnails of images, but that takes way too long to generate, so I leave that function off  



the project can be found here - https://github.com/outdoorbits/little-backup-box

the hardware portion isn’t entirely concise, if if people make this for themselves I can share what I got and from where.   The main parts list are:

raspberry Pi zero 2

four port usb hat -


and the OLED display (make sure if you get it from adafruit to get the pigtail connector) -


the best thing is, you can use any low power ssd storage drive, and if you need more space, just get more drives.   

for the usb card reader, I got this, that’s in the image - 

SD Card Reader, uni USB SD Card...


for the large storage I am using this -

Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up...


I hope this helps someone looking for an on the road backup solution, and is a tinkerer like me.  

Edited by Edp
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The speed is partially dependent on the receiving device, but mainly on the raspberry Pi and the usb protocol it supports.  When building it, I happened to also have a pi4 handy.  The pi4 supports usb3.1 while the pi zero 2 supports usb2.  The pi4 is notably faster, but larger and is very power hungry.   I can power the raspberry pi zero 2 off of a solar cell!
I did a few tests and seem to be getting an I/o speed of 20-40mb/s vs the pi4 of about 60-80mb/s.  

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