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Turn Old Netbooks Into Animated Car Taillights

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



24 thoughts on “Turn Old Netbooks Into Animated Car Taillights

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

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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