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Jason Torchinsky had this “admittedly goofy idea” about turning an old netbook into a highly customized taillight. He’s sketched up the basic plan, and is now daring one of you to go through with it!


He says that animated taillight units cost from $100 – $500, so why not go whole hog by “leveraging all the power of these cheap little (netbooks)…” which go for around $100 used.

Jason admits that he has no idea if this is exactly legal, so please don’t spend a lot of energy on this without first checking out your local laws.

Turn Old Unwanted Netbooks Into Amazing Animated Taillights



John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works at Disney Research and writes for Make and Boing Boing. He is training for American Ninja Warrior. You can find him at and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.

  • nashblackcat

    Check you local laws before trying this out. I know in Tennessee we are not allowed to have moving signs or the like.

  • The United Bylaws of America

    I’ve had to shelf similar ideas due to local laws. If you make it modular, you could swap it for the standard road-worthy tail light once you get to your destination (makerfair/car show).

  • Alex Swavely

    I love it when someone lays out a block diagram and includes a horribly inefficient 110v inverter to power a 12v device off a car source. Use a DC/DC converter instead and save some fuel.

  • James Patrick

    No reason why you should need an inverter.

  • Darrick

    Why in the world would you want to distract the driver behind you while braking? Stick the netbook in the headrest of the front seats for the kids to have a media center or something less dangerous.

  • володя (@thesmok)

    The netbook’s screen is simply not bright enougn to be a good braking light.

    • bhtooefr

      I’ll note that it’s an LCD, so you could always switch to a significantly more powerful backlight as needed. But, as it is now, it wouldn’t be effective.

  • Lynne Whitehorn

    License plate replacement. For James Bond, of course, since I doubt it would be legal. It would, however, be amusing to watch the expression on other drivers’ faces as they noticed your license plate numbers apparently melting and morphing.

    • John Edgar Park

      Lynne, that is a fantastic idea!

    • balloondoggle

      I’d make it spin like a slot machine and generate a random number for the speed cameras.

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