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62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer by Randy Sarafan
Book site: deadcomputerbook.com
Buy on Amazon

We all have old, broken, or otherwise junk electronics stashed away in our closets. Randy Sarafan’s 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer is just what it sounds like and much more, inspiring makers to repurpose mice, scanners, iPods, and yes, computers, to make high-tech housewares, newly-functioning gadgets, and accessories. The projects run the gamut of techniques, and with sections like fashion, pets, and music, there’s something for everyone. Not only is the book full of DIY ideas, it also has excellent primers on electronics parts and the safety concerns regarding taking apart and repurposing tech-junk. Once you make your own upcycled projects, you can enter them in Instructables’ Dead Computer Contest, where the deadline is March 7th.

Book Giveaway Time!

We’re giving away 3 copies of 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer. Just leave a comment on this post, letting us know what kind of dead technology you have, just waiting to be transformed. We’ll grab the winners’ emails from your commenter account, so don’t put your email address in the comment box! All comments will be closed by Noon PST on Monday, March 1st. The lucky winners will be announced next week on the CRAFT Twitter feed. Good luck!

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Sample Project: Floppy Disk Wall Frame

Floppy drives have gone the way of the buffalo. Sure, you still might find a few roaming the desks of stubborn technophobes, but for the most part, they’ve gone extinct. So, as much as you may want to hold onto that shoebox full of floppy disks that is sitting in your basement, it’s time to let go. I understand that those floppies are filled with countless wonderful electronic memories like your eighth-grade paper about oak trees, but if you haven’t recovered the data by now, you are never going to. Besides, it’s essentially irretrievable. You may as well forget about the data and use the disks to display more important memories: photos– the kind of memory that is instantly retrievable. Unless, of course, like your floppies, you’ve got those buried somewhere deep in your basement, too.

Download the project PDF to make your own Floppy Disk Wall Frame!

Update: Thanks for entering! Comments are now closed.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


Related

Comments

  1. tonyw says:

    I have an old (powerpc) ibook. Works great, but two slow and can’t be updated. What can I do with it?

  2. Nikostar says:

    I have 3 very old computers that no longer work and an old printer. This book would help out a lot! I hate to throw things away!

  3. Carlota says:

    My husband works IT and has had his own lab for years, so we have quite a bit of defunct hard drives, I have a couple of dead ipods, some full computer units, and a motherboard or two lying around. Would love to learn what I could do with all of this stuff, so it isn’t just cluttering up our garage.

  4. cookiekatt says:

    I have 3 dead desktops, 1 laptop, a external hardrive, and bout 20 floppies.
    I probably have more junk lying about somewhere.
    It would be could if I could do something with them.

  5. holycrow says:

    I would love some ideas as to what to make with two dead laptops, one dead monitor, one dead desktop and a miscellaneous pile of hard drives, disc drives, wireless routers, video cards, MP3 players, PDA’s, printers and more. I just can’t seem to throw the junk out and there is no good recycling program in my area.

  6. nadjacz says:

    My husband is a optics design engineer. A complete geek!! He solves mathematical formulas just for fun???
    We have every part of ANY item that needs a power supply in the garage and he needs to keep them all. I can not talk him into recycling them or giving them away. So PLEASE give a copy so we can actually use these items that have taken on residence in my garage for way too many years.

  7. Megan says:

    My husband collects broken electronics. He keeps saying he’s going to do something with them, but he hasn’t yet. We have a CD Player (3 disc changer) that doesn’t play CD’s and the speakers to go with it and 2 CD players that have 200 disc changers. An old audio receiver, a printer, a DVD/VCR player, some old floppy disks, a CD copier, a 19 inch monitor, three TV s from before 2000, an audio mixer, a keyboard that we cut the cord off of so that my son can play with it, a game cube, an Xbox, a PS2, and I finally made him get rid of the broken fan that he was going to tinker with. We also have lots of cables and random computer parts and pieces for a potato gun.

  8. and she knits! says:

    My husband and I have several dead laptops, a plethora of miscellaneous computer parts, an old 3-in-1 printer, cameras, cable modems, routers…
    I cannot WAIT to see what I can turn them into! I’ve always loved taking apart computers so this book is going to enable me in all sorts of fun new ways!

  9. rachel says:

    I have a broken ipod mini that I’ve been saving to make into something, and an old laptop.
    Last summer my dad came back from a garage sale with a box full of old electronics…remotes, answering machine, radios, tape player…and said, “here I bought these for you to take apart!” so theres lots of old stuff at our house to take apart. :)

  10. FloresTanis says:

    Oh I would love to learn what I can make with the two old printers I have. I hate to throw them away and would love to salvage them for parts!

  11. captiveillusions says:

    I have been going through some old boxes that were my dad’s, and he had a collection of computer bits and pieces, including around 50 of those 3.5″ floppy discs. Can’t wait to try turning them into a frame. :)

  12. befadee says:

    I have a couple old computers along with their monitors, mice and keyboards. They are all begging to be made into something new!

  13. dlyn67 says:

    I have an old Digital computer,and old hp and a couple of back when they were really floppy 5.5″ disks. I have an old 80′s boom box I would love to do something with, too.

  14. melissaurio says:

    I have several dead things waiting to be brought to life again, an old printer, a stereo, a computer monitor, you name it!

  15. merisusa_g says:

    I’ve had a pile of dead computer parts for some years now and I’ve been looking for ways to make it pretty again. I’ve got an old big scanner, an old printer, three power sources (I’m not sure if that’s the right word :S I’m a Spanish speaker!), lot’s of floppy disks (that I’ll use for the shared photo project right away!) an a number of wires and small parts that were taken away from my beloved -but still working- computer.

  16. vldecker says:

    Holy Cow this is awesome. My husband and I upgrade every so often, but can never part with old computer components, plus any time any of our families upgrade, they give us the old stuff to fool around with. Right now we have 3 complete laptops, enough parts for two desktops, plus tons of extras as well as several mice, keyboards and peripherals. Not to mention the massive collection of floppy and zip disks.

  17. Eileen says:

    I have two and one-half lap-tops and a crt monitor. Some dead dvd players and some half-working vcrs. That I know of.

  18. debd94 says:

    My 16 year old son would absolutely love this book. He has already been threatening to take our old computers apart to make something from them.

  19. UnicornChow says:

    Handy right now (as in, not packed away) I have a few broken video game controllers and an old Gameboy SP that could use some new life. I’m not sure if this book has anything for those items, but it looks very interesting all the same. Technology gets busted a lot and it would be nice to do more with it than just toss it when something dies.

  20. girlana says:

    Where to start? Two gateway desktop computers with keyboards, and mice, and crt monitors, printer, portable fm radio, three cell phones, and an entire set of stereo components including cd player, cassette player, receiver, and four speakers. Plus a deep desire to recycle them all in a useful practical artistically cool inspirational educational way.

  21. Squee, the Squishy Destroyer says:

    Have a desktop from 99, a couple of dead motherboards and graphics cards as well. I also have a laptop from 2003 that is probably about ready to give up–the battery hasn’t worked in years and it keeps bluescreening.

  22. artvisionz says:

    I save all kinds of parts of broken things! And I have an 8- year-old son following in my footsteps! I currently have a broken printer, a broken keyboard, and misc. small bits and pieces of other electronic gadgets. I’d love to win this book!

  23. teach says:

    I am a digital arts teacher at an alternative high school for at-risk youth who are behind in credit. The school is pretty run down (old elementary school) and the computer lab gets stocked with the rest of the district’s hand me downs. Stuff breaks all the time. We are pretty crafty and resourceful, but there is plenty of stuff laying around…a pyramid of monitors by the bathrooms, a couple boxes of old keyboards and broken mice next to my desk, two file cabinet drawers of plugs and wires, a stack of dead hard drives in the closet, a broken scanner under the window…
    We have a thriving animation and video production program, and I try to encourage students to build sets, props and costumes with whatever they can find laying around. Last month they made a film about a disco loving robot, and the robot costume was assembled from broken tech. This book would be a fabulous resource to give students ideas, and would provide some awesome projects for art classes-and would help the students learn more about recycling! Whoo hoo!
    Plus, I have a shed at home full of old computers, and a personal goal to do as much of our home redecorating without buying anything…helllllooooo monitor terrarium!!

  24. jalphaiv says:

    Love this!! We have a couple of old laptops, an iPod or two, but my Dad has TONS. He buys new ones of everything as they come out…

  25. ginjaninja says:

    being in IT we have piles of crazy old computers begging to be franken-fied. in fact, i have an NEC Ultralite (http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/gizmodo/2008/10/necultralite.jpg) begging for a stylish rebirth.

  26. lizzie says:

    I’m helping my Dad’s office become paperless, but before we can do that I have to get out from the heaps, more like MOUNTAINS, of electronic junk we have collecting around here! We have 3 copiers that I think predate my birth in ’86, something called a “dictaphone”, at my last count there are 27 computers that need to be hauled off or reused, and countless other mouse, keyboards, floppy disks! A lot of the newer antiques I plan on donating, but for the stuff that so old it probably came with matching shoulder pads and a power suit I think the best thing to do is give it a new purpose.

  27. teach says:

    I am a digital arts teacher at an alternative high school for at-risk youth who are behind in credit. The school is pretty run down (old elementary school) and the computer lab gets stocked with the rest of the district’s hand me downs. Stuff breaks all the time. We are pretty crafty and resourceful, but there is plenty of stuff laying around…a pyramid of monitors by the bathrooms, a couple boxes of old keyboards and broken mice next to my desk, two file cabinet drawers of plugs and wires, a stack of dead hard drives in the closet, a broken scanner under the window…
    We have a thriving animation and video production program, and I try to encourage students to build sets, props and costumes with whatever they can find laying around. Last month they made a film about a disco loving robot, and the robot costume was assembled from broken tech. This book would be a fabulous resource to give students ideas, and would provide some awesome projects for art classes-and would help the students learn more about recycling! Whoo hoo!
    Plus, I have a shed at home full of old computers, and a personal goal to do as much of our home redecorating without buying anything…helllllooooo monitor terrarium!!

  28. quilter says:

    We have an old laptop and an even older digital camera…

  29. A'isha says:

    You wouldn’t believe how much dead tech we have saved! My boys have a “technology box” where they keep absolutely everything that they tear apart after it dies…computers, VCRs, dvd players, old stereos, you name it. I should add the box is a huge wooden thing, and we’ve had to separate different size and types of things into multiple boxes now. :) We’ve made some things like a pretend robot and some picture frames, but more ideas would be fabulous!

  30. punk apple says:

    What dead hardware do I have around? Tons of spare parts (keyboards, mice, hard drives, logic boards etc etc), and Macs from Mac ][ to anything way newer. Time to get some inspiration to do something else than the usual macquariums or G4 Cube kleenexboxes.
    Actually, my other half has garage 1/2 full of old Mac parts so I definitely have the material. Just need inspiration :)

  31. valokki.wordpress.com says:

    That book sounds so good! I have several old computers in my storage, including mouses, keyboards, screens and if i remember correctly, a scanner too. Also couple broken walkmans, portable cd-player, vinyl player, floppy disks, tons of light bulbs (i made last years christmas decorations out of them) and probably tons of stuff i don’t remember now. What do you do with all those old cords you longer have any idea where they belong? As you can see, the book would get a great home with me!

  32. dally_k says:

    This book looks amazing! My hubby is the “computer guy” for all our friends and family, so we have a basement full of computer parts. He swears it’s all useful, but some of it appears to be as old as my grandmother. He refuses to dispose of any of it (why does anyone need 21 old keyboards?!?), and he loves to create things, so this book would be right up his alley! Please help before I have to call Hoarder’s on him!

  33. diana says:

    Hi guys. We have an old vynil disc player and we can seem to decide what to do with it: first we wanted to make a fun house for our hamster, then a storage box, but we weren’t satisfied with the ideas so we still have it. I can not wait to see your recommendations cause i don’t want to throw it away as it’s a gift from my sweet grandma.
    Have a great day and congrats for your book.

  34. bettyjoy says:

    My mum and dad believe in quantity over quality and often buy mega cheap no-name laptops, cameras believing they are getting an unbelieveable bargain and unsurprisingly, they nearly always break after a month or so and are then replaced with equally rubbish technology. Mum and Dad moved house recently to a much smaller house and their house is literally full to the rafters with dead technology – they won’t throw any away as they are hoarders, so if I got this book, I could take it all off their hands, make something lovely with all this stuff for them to put in their new house which actually looks better than a pile of old computers etc!

  35. Megs says:

    My husband is a computer geek and we have stuff all over out basement. I would love to have this book and learn what the heck to do with all the hidden gems that are down there…hope I win :)

  36. 0ccam says:

    I have a number of old Dell GXPro Pentium Pro machines.
    And a 9600 baud external modem.
    And some 16-bit ISA cards (ever hear of a Perstor card?)
    I’ve turned in a number of things for recycling, but if I could recycle some of it myself, that’d be great!

  37. asKane says:

    More and more I hear of crafts beautifully meshing with technology in some fashion or another. As a first year student on a professional fiber crafts program, I became familiar with SPOONFLOWER last semester via a color & pattern design assignment. The company was started by a couple who have combined their talents to form a quite genius company! One brought the craft brains and the other the gift of a techie mind. Then recently I heard on NPR of , oh…. I think the company is called “re-knit”. A mother and son team. The mother a computer programmer by day, and now with the help of her son, a craft entrepreneur goddess… by taking unwanted knit items and re-knitting them into a cool functional lovable new item! Currently, the item that I have coveted for so long and still do not own a pair…fingerless gloves! I know that there are more stories such as these and I aspire to join the ranks with my own personal craft endeavors and my husband being a certified apple tech and always submerging himself into configuring new ways to make life neat fun or convenient with the magic of technology! He is also a potter, and a very good one! He needs some craft and creative loving and we could have a blast this spring and summer working together with our respective medias and this cool brilliant book! It would be very gratifying to present it to him as a gift, to say I love you and thanks for all you do to love and show support of me and my dreams, and ours! This is a touching way to soften the dependency in a way, that our society has on technology, while paying tribute to the continuous explosion of craft revolution! thanks for all you do!

  38. Jen says:

    Oh, we have *boxes*! A dead iMac, a dead monitor, keyboards, mice, old drives, cords and cords and cords, not to mention dead stereo equipment and all sorts of other equipment! We can’t throw anything away!

  39. CraftyMariko says:

    My husband is an IT Director and total tech nerd, and I love crafting, so this is perfect for us! Our garage is literally filled with computers, monitors, and a sea of electronics. I would love to be able to turn them into fun craft projects! What a great idea!

  40. soggs74 says:

    I have a dead iPod! I tried to change the battery myself and the whole thing fell apart.

  41. melissaurio says:

    I have several dead things waiting to be brought to life again =)
    that includes an old printer, a stereo, a computer monitor, you name it and I might have it!

  42. Logan says:

    I have a dead powerbook and a closet full of dead pcs that need to be recycled.

  43. crafty1900 says:

    I have lots of old gadgets and electronics stuff. An old laptop, printer, and lots of diskettes.

  44. kmpervm says:

    What type of tech… well my husband used to work tech supports and its a keep it like we’re in the depression sort of guy.
    Three old monster monitors, two computer cases, boxes full of random computer parts, dead CD/DVD’s, old floppies (small and large)tones of wires none of which are actually what we ever need at the time, old huge blown out speakers, a couple of turn tables….
    Now just find me a book on crafty stuff to do with left over car parts, and I’ll be in heaven!
    nyrahtak@yahoo.com

  45. Beckysews says:

    Now THIS is recycling! I love the concept. And we have a laptop and a few other electrical goodies that would be fun to take apart. Thanks for the chance to win.

  46. Applett says:

    Underneath tables, in corners, in the fridge, ok not in the fridge but I do sometimes I find them creeping up the foot of my bed. Mac and other computer parts have made there way into our home. My husband has been saving his dead macs for years and within the past 2 years he’s set up an unofficial Mac rescue camp at our house. There are Ipods, mac books, and even one of those old Mac lc2 or something. My favorite is a Bondi Blue imac which I have been dying to make into some sort of functional work of art at home. There are also the little ones, like zip disks, keyboards, and memory just waiting to become useful again. I need this book. And yeah,if I don’t win it, I will probably buy it, seeing as books seem to also find refuge at our house too.

  47. Brittany says:

    I have a dead laptop and the partner has a dead hard drive. And those floppy disc photo frames look so good it makes me want to trawl junk stores for floppy discs.

  48. Tamara says:

    I have so many computer components that I want to re-purpose.
    3 old apple computers that my husband can’t bear to get rid of, 2 old laptops, scanner, floppy disks, cds, mice, track ball, ink jet printer, laser printer, monitors, desktop hard drives, key boards…it goes on and on. And, we even recycled quite a bit of our old computer hardware a few months ago. It just seems to keep multiplying.

  49. cherries says:

    We have every dead computer part imaginable. I’ve already used 2 dead monitors to make desktop cat beds but that just touches the tip of the iceberg of available parts in our home.

  50. rachael1723.myopenid.com says:

    I cut open the old black floppy disks, take out the ring inside and use them to store burned CD’s!

  51. nado says:

    We have an old scanner, and old computer, printer and my husband hopes he will soon have an old monitor! I would love to have ways to repurpose all the computer parts in our junk room. We have a zip drive and lots of other crazy parts as well.

  52. ammieloris says:

    Sweet! I have some of my own ideas on upcycling broken electronics, but no actual know-how on what to do with my
    old laptop(s)
    broken cell phone
    not broken cell phone
    duplicate mouses
    VCR
    floppy disks
    and on and on.
    Hooray! This book looks great.

  53. hollyspinner.wordpress.com says:

    I so need this book.
    In my basement I have every computer-related thing that I have ever purchased. That is at least 3 whole pcs and several boxes of assorted bits and pieces. It would be amazing to be able to go through all of this old technology with a creative project in mind.
    Thanks for running this contest.

  54. jennit says:

    My honeybunch brings home dilapidated electronics all the time, right now there’s an orphanage of digital cameras collecting dust that I’d love to give new life.

  55. Becky says:

    I have:
    an old computer (the kind with a 5 1/4 floppy disk drive)
    slide projectors
    speakers
    camera lenses (they are scraped :`( )
    I didn’t think these could be upcycled but I haven’t thrown them out because I didn’t want all their juices(…er whatever electronics leak) to pollute the earth.

  56. Remy says:

    I have two old giant monitors, two CPUs with their innards, three keyboards that have shorted out, dozens of floppy discs and scratched up CDs, a broken printer, a broken scanner, etc.
    I hoard things because surely I’d have a use for them at some point!! ): I desperately need this book.

  57. steinks says:

    i’m so excited to see this book! JUST last week i found a big box of old floppy disks with all my childhood artwork stored on them. i’ve been slowly peeling off labels, hoping to find a project i can use them for… and voila! 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer has arrived. My old art will turn into NEW art!

  58. steinks says:

    i’m so excited to see this book! JUST last week i found a big box of old floppy disks with all my childhood artwork stored on them. i’ve been slowly peeling off labels, hoping to find a project i can use them for… and voila! 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer has arrived. My old art will turn into NEW art!

  59. Annie says:

    Wow. what an appropriate day for this. My fiance and I just moved apartments which made me realize just how many old computers and computer parts he has. It is at least 8 computers that he keeps around for basically nothing. Maybe if we had this book, they would have a use! lol

  60. PenguinBot says:

    My husband has a whole closet full of old computer parts. A giant monitor, an old PC tower, various components, mice, keyboards, random wires…

  61. Vic says:

    We personally have 2 dead powerbooks, 3 printers, assorted mice, diskettes, vcrs, and drawer full of dead cell phones. I’m really excited to share this book with our mac user group(s) here in Pittsburgh. Our Pittsburgh group has a recycling center already set up at Goodwill and I know there are tons, tons and more tons of computers and parts stored there. Your book would go a long way with the “dead computer” geek squad and all our muggers.

  62. CatsRCats1 says:

    Has anyone had trouble downloading the .pdf for the Floppy Disk Wall Frame. All I’m getting is a black screen when the PDF window opens.

  63. fancyfree says:

    Hey, so I’ve got a good-looking but utterly dead set of over-sized headphones, 2 kaput iPods and an iPod shuffle, an old flat-screen, a dead macbook, and a stereo receiver from the ’80′s that finally kicked it. It’s quite a stack. Make it go away.

  64. LisaMarie says:

    My son has a bedroom full of dead desktop computers, speakers, laptops, ipods, headphones, etc. He collects all of his friend’s broken electronic equipment and tries to figure out how to fix them. He is a master at disassembly, but putting them back together is somewhat of a challenge. This book could give him some inspiration to make something new out of all of the electronics jumbled up in his room.
    Thanks so much for the give away!

  65. Queue says:

    I have two old desktop PCs, at least one old monitor, and one old (but still working) laptop. I also have mice, keyboards, cables, and plenty of 3.5-inch disks. I may also have some 5.25-inch disks still. It would be great to do something useful with them and not just throw them away to have them end up in some landfill the next time I need to reclaim some space.

  66. Briea says:

    I have so many old things! Computer, laptops, scanner, ect, ect! A lot of them don’t work or are so slow they practically don’t work….

  67. kellybot says:

    Thanks to the digital broadcast, I have three defunct TVs. Also lots of outdated computers!

  68. gauchealchemy.wordpress.com says:

    This looks like tons of fun! Whooeee! Another excuse to save every mother-lovin’-thing that makes it’s way to my crafty hands. Amy

  69. Atsuko says:

    I have a prehistoric HP scanner as well as a dead desktop computer just sitting in my room. Any ideas?

  70. random says:

    one computer geek marries another computer geek = outdated hardware everywhere. Doesn’t help that we are craft fiends, so everything could be used for something but there’s never enough time! We have everything from old computers, servers, scanners, floppies, laptops, and boxes of just computer parts because something could be made with them!

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