MAKE editor and Hackziner Brian Jepson recently met up with Joel Evans of Geek.com. Like any geeks worth their root access, Brian and Joel proceeded to do whatever they could to brick their respective XO laptops. Joel writes:

After we were done chatting, Brian wanted to show me some other hacking he’s done. In this case he built a pressure sensor out of a collection of electronics parts. Here’s how he did it: he took a force sensing resistor (you can get one from Trossen Robotics, Parallax, or Solarbotics), set it up with a 10k resistor and an LED for output, using the 5 volt USB port as a voltage source. Then, to protect the sound card from the voltage, he plugged a photo resistor into the microphone jack and pointed the LED at it, and ran the Measure activity that comes with the XO laptop. Each time you press down on the force sensing resistor, it makes the on-screen waveform jump around. Not bad for a $200 laptop.


One of my favorite moments was when Brian almost killed the OS install on both of our laptops. Notice how calm he is?

That’s our Brian!

Hacking the XO laptop – [via] Link


  • OLPC XO dissection and massive electronics teardown roundup – Link
  • HOW TO – Make your own XO laptop bag – Link
  • HOW TO – Upgrade the XO laptop’s operating system – Link
Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

  • Russ

    brain, eh?

  • Stefan Jones

    I’d love to see more like this. The XO screams to turned into the heart of a DIY Exploratorium.

    I spent the afternoon turning a toddler-sized sweatshirt into a case for my XO. Dollar store dog leash for the handle, buttons for the closure, a layer of aluminized-mylar bubble wrap for extra padding.