When it comes to technology mods and hacks, we've seen some brilliant and bizarre ideas. Here's our five favourites.

Two Funnels + earbuds + old tech = Rock On!

"Don't trash it - transform it." That's the mantra behind 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, a new book that, as its title suggests, contains instructions for repurposing old, obsolete, or broken electronics into something useful (or at least interesting).

We liked the book so much that we decided to actually make one of the projects. In this case, we made a set of speakers out of disused iPod earbuds, a couple of funnels, and some dead MP3 players.

You'll need two dead MP3 players to serve as the speaker base (We used a couple old Creative Zen players), two plastic funnels (with tabs on them), a pair of earbuds, a hot glue gun, and some nuts and bolts. You'll also need a tool to open up and gut the MP3 players.

If you have iPods, you'll probably need a thin knife to pry it open. In my case, I used a screwdriver to disassemble the Zen players.

The instructions specify that you need to remove the MP3 players' headphone jacks and batteries; you'll insert a bolt where the headphone jack resides, and you'll want to remove the battery to prevent any possible acid leakage down the road.

Opening up old electronics can feel like an archeological dig. While taking apart the two Zen players, I gained a newfound respect for Creative's early-2000's industrial designers; these things were built like tanks.

I discovered that these early players used 2.5in laptop drives, rather than the 1.8in hard drives that newer players used. I was also surprised to find the battery soldered to the Zen's main circuit board.

Removing the battery involved a couple of snips of wire to detach it from the circuit board. Removing the headphone jack took a little more effort, though. I had to pry out the jack and circuit board attached to it.

Once I brute-forced the headphone jack out, I was able to slip a bolt through the headphone jack opening and secure the funnel to the MP3 player.

It was a little tricky to get the bolt to stay in place, as it kept wanting to slide back into the player.

The last step it to attach the earbuds to the small end of the funnel using a hot glue gun. I used a pair of standard issue iPod earbuds.

That's pretty much all there is to it. The audio quality won't match a set of real computer speakers, but they'll work in a pinch.

Also, the speakers aren't particularly loud, but it's adequate if you're in a fairly quiet setting (though you'll have to crank up your volume quite a bit). In either case, at least you'll be able to shore up your geek credentials.

It took me about an hour to complete this project. I spent most of the time trying to remove the MP3 player components and getting over my own ineptitude when it comes to arts and crafts (I'm surprised I didn't glue my fingers together or something).

If you're at all interested in DIY projects, consider buying the book; it's a worthy addition to your library.

NEXT PAGE: A Lego iPad

  1. From killer cases to odd speakers
  2. A Lego iPad
  3. Shape-shifting smartphones
  4. Mac OS X on the Nokia N900

When it comes to technology mods and hacks, we've seen some brilliant and bizarre ideas. Here's our five favourites.

Want an iPad now? Build your own with Lego

One intrepid adult Lego enthusiast wanted to get an idea of how the iPad would feel in your hand, so he built one out of Lego bricks. The Lego iPad doesn't do anything, but it sure looks cool.

Joe Meno is the owner of BrickJournal, a magazine dedicated to everybody's favourite building toy: Lego bricks.

Meno told PC Advisor's sister magazine PC World that he was impressed by the presentation of the iPad, and is excited about its potential to change the print media landscape.

He described the creation process as being a fun challenge that gave him even more reason to get one.

"The inspiration is the iPad itself," says Meno.

"I built the model as close as I could to the real iPad in size to get a better understanding of how it would feel with handling and multitouch. While it doesn't function, the model gives a good impression of what it is in terms of weight and space."

"The dimensions of the iPad made it difficult to build, because its thickness is equivalent to almost four Lego plates, or a brick and a plate," Meno explains.

Meno's Lego iPad was constructed into two parts: the frame and the screen. The frame was built with the studs (the ‘locking bubbles') pointing down, and the screen was built with the studs pointing upwards.

The two pieces fit snug into each other, with the screen measuring at a 'resolution' of 17x28 studs.

Building it in this manner allowed Meno to keep the width of the iPad accurate. The back surface of the iPad is also roughly the same size and tiled with gray, and even has the Apple logo in the center.

Meno tells us that he plans on getting the first generation iPad as soon as it's available, and hopes to get his magazine published for use on it.

"I seriously think that the iPad will be a game changer for print media, and hope to be part of it."

Check out Meno's entire iPad photoset on Flickr.

[via Twitter/ Photos courtesy of Joe Meno]

NEXT PAGE: Shape-shifting smartphones

  1. From killer cases to odd speakers
  2. A Lego iPad
  3. Shape-shifting smartphones
  4. Mac OS X on the Nokia N900

When it comes to technology mods and hacks, we've seen some brilliant and bizarre ideas. Here's our five favourites.

Will your next smartphone shape-shift? One researcher presents his ideas

PhD student Fabian Hemmert recently presented an amazing way to design portable gadgets.

His prototype offered shapeshifting, weightshifting, and 'living' technologies that may change the way we interact with our phones in the future.

In his presentation at the TEDxBerlin Conference, Hemmert gives sample uses for each of his unique design ideas, such as a shapeshifting scheme that can make a phone more easily dockable as an alarm stand.

Another form showcases a weightshifting device that can change its centre of gravity to follow your finger as you touch it.
His most unique (and arguably zany!) implementation is known as a 'living' device, where the object is able to simulate a heartbeat and a sense of being organic.

As Hemmert puts it: "What's behind that is a postulation namely that [it's] not humans [that] should get much more technical in the future; rather than that, technology [should become] a bit more human".

In this era of the Nexus One and the iPhone, it appears that manufacturers have arrived at a plateau regarding unique hardware interfaces; they're focusing on finessing the current status quo of accelorometers, capacitive touch screens, and speedy mobile processors.

But the well of ideas has far from run dry. Synaptics' Fuse phone, for example, promises a new hardware interface that involves gripping the phone at the sides.

The Fuse samples one concept for expanding the number of ways you can interface with a gadget.

Hemmert's prototype is coming at a time when hardware makers need to be further pushed to incorporate new ideas.

Hemmert's design concepts are not ready for prime time going by the video (ie, chunky design, battery issues), but his thinking is definitely in the right direction.

Where are you expecting your gadgets to go next? Here's betting on 3D autostereoscopic phones.

[via Infosthetics and Gizmodo]

NEXT PAGE: Mac OS X on the Nokia N900

  1. From killer cases to odd speakers
  2. A Lego iPad
  3. Shape-shifting smartphones
  4. Mac OS X on the Nokia N900

When it comes to technology mods and hacks, we've seen some brilliant and bizarre ideas. Here's our five favourites.

Hack brings Mac OS X to the Nokia N900

Have you ever wanted to run a full-blown copy of Mac OS X on your mobile device?

One hacker has managed to get Apple's operating system running on a smartphone, and it's not the iPhone.

Finnish geek Toni Nikkanen has become the first person to successfully run Mac OS X - in this case, Mac OS X 10.3 'Panther' (released in 2003) - on a mobile phone.

The phone he managed to achieve this feat with - Nokia's N900 smartphone. Sadly the hack, which makes use of PowerPC emulator Pear PC, runs incredibly slowly.

Still want to give it a try? If you have a few hours to spare - and you don't mind stepping into a legal gray area by breaking Mac OS X's end-user license agreement - check out Nikkanen's blog for more information.

[Toni Nikkanen via Engadget]

The case mod that will (try to) kill you

A decent PC case mod is always bound to draw attention, but this God Of War themed gaming rig really does raise the bar.

Do I know how he built it? No. Do I even know who built it? No. Would I want one myself? Probably not. But that doesn't mean that the architect behind this killer case modification - literally - is anything but amazing at his or her skills.

If you don't recognise the tattooed, bloody, chain-blade-wielding figurine serving as the chassis for this LAN party system, that's Kratos.

He's the star of the PlayStation's popular God of War franchise. He's quite popular in the gaming circuits, but I must confess, this is the first time I've ever seen him - let alone anyone - starring as the focal point of an actual computer.

Unfortunately, there aren't any details as to how this case was constructed. And that's a real shame, because the master crafting behind the extreme detail of this statue-turned-computer deserves its own illustrated how-to guide.

I mean, when's the last time you built a computer with chains on it? Blood spatters? For all I know, you hit a button on the rear of Kratos and he goes into a full whirlwind swing.

I'm sure he's a hit at close-quarter gaming conventions. And how much does this thing weigh anyway?

You access the guts of this rig, well, just as you would access one's actual guts. A panel on Kratos' back exposes his insides - a full-fledged gaming system, in this case. Might want to tread lightly on future upgrades, lest one irritate the God of War.

See also: Pictures: The 10 strangest, low-tech hacks

  1. From killer cases to odd speakers
  2. A Lego iPad
  3. Shape-shifting smartphones
  4. Mac OS X on the Nokia N900