Hackable Christmas: cheap devices

Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability Home Technology
Hackable Christmas: cheap devices

How is your holiday hacking going? If you have been good, Santa has stocked you up with lots of clever goodies to keep you and yours entertained.

Below are a few things that I found in my stocking and am looking forward to fussing with:

Disposable battery/charger for cellphones.
At two dollars (frugal Santa), if this is what it might be, it could be really awesome. What I am hoping to find in here is a case that can be cracked open, batteries replaced and if I am really lucky a voltage regulator. Sort of like a Minty Boost, but cheaper. Will it work? Maybe. The fitting to the charge booster is proprietary, aimed at a Samsung phone user, but with a cut off a USB mini B cable fitting, it should fit most of the rechargeable devices in my life.

Kingston 8 Gig micro SD mobility kit
8 gigs will make my phone have pretty much unlimited storage (for now). It would also more than double one of my mp3 players’ capacity. Probably the most happy thing about this kit is that it comes with a host of micro SD adapters. As more things move towards the Micro SD format, lots of adapters will be handy. They never seem to be around when things need to be uploaded. Between that and really high capacity cards, too many pictures are staying on the camera too long.

Sandisk M2 2 Gig adapter
Sony annoys me how they make everybody bend to their proprietary flash card format. If you want to jack up your PSP’s storage, you have to do something like this. Video, audio, lots of applications, home brew apps, gotta have a memory card for the PSP.

Adhesive copper sheet
This stuff is neat for making circuits on the fly. Basically, it is wire with glue on the back. It can be cut with scissors, torn, scored with a knife and other wires can be taped to it or soldered into place. If you have access to a vinyl cutter, you can make a design in Gimp, open office or whatever and cut it mechanically. It seems like an easy, almost magical way of making circuits. No soldering if you don’t want to. This may be a good way of getting kids into circuits without the safety issues of soldering.

Wireless Mouse and number pad
Maybe this could be something to make a soap controller out of, or maybe it could be a good controller for that Scratch game you create out of holiday wrappings and boxes. Or maybe it’s just something to rig up to the computer.

12 volt to USB Mini B
Everything seems to run on Mini B lately. Now I can charge on the road. What I have been using is totally inefficient, 12 volt DC to AC 10 year old inverter to ac power adapter to DC. Too much conversion.

Little audio speakers
Frugal Santa does it again. $2 usd bought a pair of speakers with a little amplifier. It runs on 6 volts DC, and can be used with a battery pack or included AC to DC wall inverter. Certainly the speakers will be easy to use, with a stereo headphone jack, and they fold up nice.

Flashlight with a zillion white LEDs
Remember when white LEDs were like gold? Not anymore. Cheap enough at $15 usd, maybe this could be repurposed for photography lighting. maybe it could just be a big huge white light. It uses 3 D cell batteries, so at 4.5 volts, certainly something clever could be done with it. Underwater ROV lighting? Hmmmm.

Well there is certainly more to mess with under the tree and in the closets, but this is a start. What goodies are under your tree? If you aren’t doing the Christmas thing, then how are you celebrating the hacking spirit lately? How could you use any of these materials and gadgets as classroom/school projects? What sneaky uses can you find for cheap stuff? What possibilities do you see in your holiday schwag? Add to the conversation in the comments and post your photos and video to the Make Flickr pool.

4 thoughts on “Hackable Christmas: cheap devices

  1. wayn3w says:

    Where does one find adhesive copper sheet?

    1. Chris Connors says:

      Here is the inventory section from the Fab Lab site that deals with the copper:
      Budnick Converting
      http://www.budnickconverting.com Prices as of 7/15/08
      Permacel # 595B transfer adhesive 6″x60 yds. @ $41.04/roll
      3M #214 masking tape 6″x60 yds @ $140.60/roll
      3M #1 epoxy film on liner 6″x100 yds @ $181.76/roll
      3M #1126 copper tape with conductive adhesive 6″x36 yds @$236.44/roll

      Give Budnick Converting a shot, it looks like it is made by 3m, so there are likely other vendors.

      Here is the address of the full Fab Lab inventory: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/fab/inv.html

      If you give the copper a try, make sure you take loads of pictures. I suppose you could get similar results from the aluminum foil that HVAC guys use to tape up ducts. I had a student who made a leydon jar out of a 5 gallon pail. He charged it with a van de graaf generator. Big sparks = potentially dangerous fun.

      The aluminum tape for ducts is not Duct Tape, but rather something like this: http://www.electrotape.com/aluminum-foil-tape/aluminum-foil-tape-500.html


Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

View more articles by Chris Connors