Fun & Games
How To: Hack a Magic 8-Ball

Craig Smith sent us this project on how to take apart a Magic 8-Ball to customize it with your own answers. Thanks, Craig! – Gareth

Magic 8-Ball Hack

By Craig Smith

As a spa/hot tub service tech, I was convinced that one of my dingbat co-workers must be using Magic 8-Ball to arrive at his spa troubleshooting diagnosis. So, I thought it might be funny to actually make one customized for hot tub problems.

I used a Plexiglas cutter to remove the glue at the seam of the ball, about 1/8″ deep. From there, I could pry it apart with a screwdriver. Inside is the clear plastic blue dye container. Three Phillips screws hold the “cork” in. Remove and carefully pour out the blue dye water and save it. CAREFUL, IT WILL STAIN. I was able to remove the entire top by prying bit-by-bit all around the edge until the lid popped off. Then I could remove the “bubble trap” and the 20-sided “ball.”

I used a razor to slice off the letters, then medium sandpaper in a sander, then fine, then wet sand with superfine emery cloth. The smoother the surface, the less the marker will bleed. Then, with an ultra-fine sharpie marker, I carefully hand-lettered 20 common problems found in hot tub service calls. I then re-assembled the unit using Mr. Sticky glue on the cap. (A common pool/spa repair adhesive) The dye was put back in using a turkey baster with an injector tip. An eye-dropper got the last of it in. With the cork back in place and the entire unit re-assembled with some glue, I’m ready to use this diagnostic tool ONLY when eights years of experience fails me on a tricky malfunction.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance 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 to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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