Organic Based EV Battery Turns To Ethanol For a Boost In Energy Density

While on the face of it, the lithium-batteries that power electric vehicles play an important role in our ongoing shift to sustainable transport, they aren’t without environmental problems of their own. Batteries that use organic, readily available materials in place of rare metals are seen as a promising part of the solution to this dilemma, and new research led by University of Houston scientists demonstrates how the performance of these eco-friendly devices might be brought up to speed.

As demand for electronic devices and vehicles continues to grow, so does the reliance on lithium-ion batteries that rely on scarce metals. Front and center of this dilemma is cobalt, the mining of which is not only associated with environmental degradation and pollution of water supplies, but plagued by ethical issues such as the exploitation of child labor. The use of these metals also makes recycling the batteries difficult at the end of their lives.

However, we are seeing some exciting advances being made in the development of batteries that do away with these types of materials and use organic ones instead. These have included organic-based batteries that can break down in acid for recycling, a heavier reliance on cheaper and more environmentally friendly nickel, and even one from IBM that uses materials found in seawater.

The new device marries this organic architecture with another promising branch of battery research focusing on the use of solid-state electrolytes. Typical batteries move their electrical charge between two electrodes, a cathode and anode, in a liquid electrolyte solution, but scientists are making great inroads into alternative designs that use a solid electrolyte instead. This type of architecture could also allow batteries to work with a lithium metal anode, which could store as much as 10 times the energy of current devices.

The scientists behind the new battery have solved what they say is a key limitation of organic-based, solid-state lithium batteries. Where cobalt-based cathodes afford these batteries a high energy density, ones made from organic materials suffer from limited energy density, which the team found to be because of microscopic structures within the cathode. “Cobalt-based cathodes are often favored because the microstructure is naturally ideal but forming the ideal microstructure in an organic-based solid-state battery is more challenging,” says study author Jibo Zhang.

Working with a cathode made from an organic material called pyrene-4,5,9,10-tetraone (PTO), the scientists used ethanol as a solvent to alter its microstructure. This treatment resulted in a new arrangement that allowed for better transport of ions within the cathode and boosted its energy density to 302 Wh/kg, which the team says is 83 percent higher than current state-of-the-art solid-state batteries with organic cathodes.

“We are developing low-cost, earth-abundant, cobalt-free organic-based cathode materials for a solid-state battery that will no longer require scarce transition metals found in mines,” says Yao. “This research is a step forward in increasing EV battery energy density using this more sustainable alternative.”

Nick Lavars


By: Nick Lavars


Source: Organic-based EV battery turns to ethanol for a boost in energy density

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The War Between Gamers And Cryptominers and The Scarce Global Resource That Sparked It


hroughout the week, Doug Dejarnette heads to his Houston home’s second-floor game room and there transforms himself entirely. Sometimes the 38-year-old pretrial services officer becomes a Paladin warrior, raiding dungeons in the PC-version of World of Warcraft, and, at other times, the titular character in Half-Life Alyx, battling ETs on an alien-occupied Earth through an Oculus Rift headset.

What largely makes his gaming possible is a videocassette-shaped device inside his handmade computer called a graphics processing unit (GPU), which renders the games’ animation, allowing it to appear on a screen.

Dejarnette’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is a top-of-the-line model, and it wasn’t easy to come by. When he tried to buy a new one last year, he discovered it “just impossible to find anywhere. I woke up early at the launch day to hit every website. I finally gave up and bought one off Reddit for about $1,000,” a roughly 30% markup.

There’s a worldwide shortage of new and old GPUs right now, leading to a sense of “sheer fatalism” among gamers despondent about getting the latest tech or even replacing an old part, Dejarnette says. “It’s killing us.” And it’s led to some testy finger-pointing by gamers toward another group of geeks: cryptocurrency miners.

Gamers and others observing the GPU market say the miners have wreaked havoc on the $20 billion industry, taxing it with unexpected demand while key components for GPUs—microchips—are scarcely available. The companies making the GPUs understand the situation with the miners, and as recently as Wednesday, Nvidia announced it would change some future versions of its GPUs to make them less attractive to miners. But that fix will not arrive anytime soon.

“There’s nothing out there,” says 22-year-old miner Shaneel Mohandas, considering the current availability of GPUs. The IT worker has seven GPUs running in a darkened bedroom in palm-tree-lined Durban, South Africa, each device devoted to producing cryptocurrency like bitcoin and ether.

He figures even his aging collection of GPUs could fetch two and a half times their original price. “It’s all overpriced stuff. And it’s driving the gamers crazy.” Through mining, Mohandas receives Bitcoin as a reward for creating blocks of verified transactions that are added to the blockchain and doesn’t have to pay for it.

The tussle between gamers and cryptominers over these high-tech gizmos is a helpful way to understand something much broader that’s going on in the world. There’s a profound, worldwide shortage of microchips, which has grown to be almost as essential as concrete, oil or wheat for an increasingly digitized planet. Nearly a half-trillion dollars’ worth are sold each year. They power the electronic systems within planes, automobiles, smartphones—and yes, GPUs. Moreover, they’re increasingly found in such everyday objects as toothbrushes, refrigerators and coffee pots.

“It’s become kind of an addiction,” admits miner Aniel Varma, of Orlando, Florida. “Everyone wants to build their own machine. It’s a money printer.”

As incomes grow globally, consumers generally want more and more of these types of things each year, and some have been in especially high demand during the pandemic. But many of the chips within these items are made overseas by foreign companies, such as Taiwan Semiconductor and Samsung. And those global supply chains have been pressured greatly by the pandemic, disrupted by factors like factory closures and border shutdowns

By tensions between Taiwan and mainland China, which has never recognized its right to exist as a sovereign country. World governments are concerned: President Biden, for one, pledged to find nearly $40 billion to spur greater U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors in February, the same month European Union ministers met to discuss a $60 billion package meant to do the same thing in their 27-country bloc.

As with many problems so vast, the Great Microchip Shortage is best considered in miniature—which is where those gamers and cryptominers come back in. What’s happening in their little corner of nerd-dom is happening in some form across every industry relying on microchips, producing an almost comical array of besieged businesses, unruly consumers and markets gone haywire.

“I think what you have is a perfect storm of things,” says Matthew Stafford, the bespectacled managing editor of Tom’s Hardware, an online industry bible for the IT crowd. “Global companies expect stability. And this is anything but stability.”

Nvidia and its competitors have been making GPUs for gamers throughout much of the past three decades. By lore, Nvidia’s three cofounders are said to have, basically, dreamed up the entire market over breakfast at a dirty San Jose, California, Denny’s back in 1993, figuring there would be a market for people looking to improve their PCs as video games got more advanced.

One of those men, Jensen Huang, remains Nvidia’s CEO, and he has a personal fortune estimated at $14.2 billion. Nvidia, meanwhile, has a market valuation of nearly $370 billion. AMD, its closest rival, is worth close to $100 billion. (Nvidia’s stock price is up more than 67% over the past year, far outpacing the Nasdaq’s 43% gain.)

Gamers had GPUs largely to themselves until the last decade—when the crypto boom began. GPUs perform trillions of calculations each second, and their immense computing power can be applied to cryptomining, where a computer solves a series of complex equations, producing new portions of the cryptocurrencies that can be sold off for cash on easily accessible online exchanges, such as Coinbase.

Despite their advanced age and size, Nvidia and AMD have largely been caught flat-footed by the flourishing demand from cryptominers and don’t seem even now to fully understand what percentage of their sales come from miners, exacerbating the supply problem. In one recent conference call with Wall Street analysts, Nvidia executives cited vague third-party figures when discussing what portion of their GPUs currently go to cryptomining.

“They probably don’t really know,” says Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. The figure might be as much as 10%, up from essentially zilch a decade ago and nearing a half-billion dollars. The situation is probably only worsening: Crypto prices have soared over 2020 and 2021, increasing the appeal to cryptomining.

The GPU makers don’t particularly want miners as top customers. They saw a similar burst in demand from miners back in 2017 and 2018, another moment of soaring crypto prices. But when that earlier bubble burst, the miners flooded aftermarkets with secondhand GPUs, depressing prices and suppressing demand for new models. The damage was evident in the figures Nvidia reported for its first fiscal quarter of 2019: nearly a third less revenue from a year prior, just $2.2 billion, a rare decrease for the company.

So Nvidia and the rest are not only dealing with a supply crunch but strong demand from a group of consumers who might vanish at any second if crypto prices plummet again. (Crypto is a mercurial world. In the past week, bitcoin has gone for as much as $51,383 a coin—and as little as $34,923.) Meaning, even if supply would improve, and the companies do better integrate mining into their forecasts, they could suddenly be left with a glut of product, weakening prices.

Considering all these factors, the companies have decided against making any big adjustments. The result is the tension between gamers and miners and the mad-dash rush for whatever GPUs are out there, often used ones from eBay or ones brokered through Reddit forums for double or triple the units’ original prices.

Locating a GPU “should be as simple as just checking Newegg”—a popular online electronics retailer—“to see if they’re in stock and then buy it, but now it’s anything but that,” says Ryan Welean, 27, a gamer in Mill Creek, Washington. Newegg has, actually, resorted lately to selling new GPUs through a lottery system to handle the crush. “It’s limited stock and high demand,” Welean says.

He has owned several GPUs since he began PC gaming a decade ago; he purchased a new Radeon RX 5700 from AMD last year, which has fueled dozens of hours of Final Fantasy to fill pandemic-induced downtime. “But recently I’ve been unlucky,” he says, grimly. “I’ve been on a waiting list with another site for the opportunity to buy a 3080 or 3090,” two Nvidia models, “and it’s taking a while.”

Justin Kelly, 42, straddles both worlds, a former gamer turned miner. Kelly first bought several GPUs to game—“friends would come over, we’d play Duke Nukem or Delta Force 2”—then put it toward mining bitcoin around 2013. He has purchased $10,000 worth of the latest Nvidia cards in the past year, good enough to produce as much as $600 worth of crypto a day.

He wishes he’d bought up more. “I would have spent more than $10,000. But in some cases, I wasn’t able to do that,” says Kelly, a Seattle IT consultant. Many of the sales had a strict one-GPU-per-order limit. “If I had gone back to, like, my August [2020] self, I should have told him to buy, like, 50 cards,” possibly flipping those Nvidia cards for several thousand dollars in profit each.

“It’s become kind of an addiction,” admits miner Aniel Varma, of Orlando, Florida. “Everyone wants to build their own machine. It’s a money printer.” Varma, 36, has managed to buy 30 Nvidia GPUs over the prior 12 months after finding someone to sell him a bot; the programmatic software can be taught to scour the web for GPU sales and snap them up as soon as a website adds them. More famously, bots have become scourges of the collectibles and sneaker worlds, making it impossible for normal buyers to purchase products fast enough.

Varma, who is also a tech consultant, has set up four computers in his house: one in the living room, foyer, guest bedroom and hallway. He mostly mines bitcoin and ether but has recently branched out to dogecoin, too, on the insistence of his young daughter. “I’m building these awesome supercomputers,” he says, proudly. “Everyone that walks in my house and sees the rigs”—miner slang for PCs—“and are just completely blown away. I’ve seen some jaw drops and some eyes popping out.”

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Source: The War Between Gamers And Cryptominers—And The Scarce Global Resource That Sparked It


This Marantz Stereo Receiver Could Be The Only Music Player You Need

Silver-gold Marantz NR1200

It’s not often that I get the opportunity to review traditional hi-fi gear because the audio market is changing rapidly. Increasingly, consumers want all-in-one devices that can deliver a full range of audio sources in one easy-to-use package. You only have to look at the soaring popularity of products like Naim’s Uniti range or some of the mini streaming systems from Denon or NAD to see where the market is heading. Smaller homes and a newer approach to technology mean audio systems are becoming more compact and flexible.

For many audiophiles, there’s nothing quite like the allure of a high-quality amplifier and a pair of great loudspeakers. Music enthusiasts still demand a great phono input, a traditional radio tuner, plus a streamer that can play music from the likes of TIDAL, Qobuz, and Spotify. Thankfully, Marantz has recognized that there’s still a demand for these premium audio centerpieces with the ability to connect to other sources like TVs, CD players, or NAS music servers. Marantz has addressed this need with the new NR1200, an incredibly capable stereo receiver that’s designed for audiophiles on a budget while offering almost every conceivable input and output in one premium audio box.

There’s nothing budget about the look of this beast of a device that is available in silver-gold or black finishes. The NR1200 features the classic curvy faceplate that Marantz is famous for and two oversized knobs for selecting inputs and adjusting volume levels. In the center of the faceplate, there’s a single-line FL (fluoro luminescent) display that scrolls basic text such as input source, volume level, and track titles, etc. Beneath the display is a row of knobs for a few basic functions like tone controls, speaker selectors and music control.


The NR1200 has been designed from the ground up as a high-performance, two-channel stereo receiver for people who want a great stereo with the option to play TV audio, but who don’t want a full 5.1 surround sound system. There’s a good reason for this as anyone who’s ever used an AV Receiver as a hi-fi component will testify. Surround sound AVRs just don’t have the same finesse when handling stereo music sources because there’s a lot of sonic processing going on.

Marantz engineers have developed the NR1200 in Europe and Japan using audiophile-grade components such as capacitors, power transistors and custom power supplies. At its heart, the NR1200 has a high-current amplifier delivering 75 W per channel into 8Ω. There are outputs for two pairs of loudspeakers and the output can be split between two zones labeled A and B. You can install two pairs of speakers and they can either play the same music in different rooms, or you can have one source playing in Zone A and another music source or TV routed to Zone B. For example, NR1200 could be located in a living room, playing the TV sound through stereo loudspeakers, while radio or Spotify can be played through a pair of speakers in another room at the same time.

The NR1200 has symmetrical left and right power amplifier circuits that are entirely separate from each other powered by a shared power supply with independent windings for each of the NR1200’s critical functions. To reduce the possibility of interference, the NR1200’s power supply is wired independently from the amplifier, preamplifier, wireless module, and front display circuits. Additionally, there are two separate DACs (digital-to-analog converters) for each channel to increase the dynamic range of the audio signal as well as delivering a lower signal-to-noise ratio. This dual-channel design improves channel separation, lowers crosstalk and produces a better soundstage. The stereo imaging of the NR1200 is superb – almost spine-tingling – but more about that later.


When it comes to inputs, the NR1200 can handle just about any source you could ever want to play. Let’s take a quick tour around the back to see exactly what’s on offer. First off, there are no fewer than five HDMI inputs plus an HDMI eARC output that carries sound to and from a TV. All five of the HDMI inputs support the latest HDMI standards, including HDCP 2.3, 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, HLG, High Dynamic Range (HDR10), 21:9 video, 3D and BT.2020 pass-through. The inclusion of eARC means the NR1200’s volume level can also be controlled using a TV remote control.

Additionally, there are optical and coaxial inputs for hooking up a CD transport or any other digital device that has an SPDIF output. For connecting analog devices there are three line-level RCA stereo inputs. Vinyl enthusiasts will be happy to know there is a high-quality phono input featuring a proprietary HDAM phono stage that Marantz claims can outperform cheaper op-amp phono stages. Finally, an F-connector is provided for an external FM or DAB+ antenna to feed the built-in tuner. For those who store their digital music on a USB drive, there’s a regular USB port on the front of the player as well as built-in support for network music servers.

Now let’s turn to the NR1200’s outputs. First off, there are pre-amp outputs for both Zone A and Zone B so the NR1200 can drive a more powerful amplifier if required. Two subwoofer outputs are provided for each speaker pair as well as two pairs of speaker binding posts that can accept bare wires or banana plugs. The speakers are switchable so pair A and B can work separately or play at the same time. Finally, there are two wireless antennas for receiving dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. An Ethernet port is also provided for those who prefer to have a hard-wired network. Incidentally, the NR1200 can also transmit music wirelessly to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or loudspeakers. That’s a nice little feature that I wish more audio manufacturers would include.

As well as support for streaming via Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2, the NR1200 also supports HEOS, the multi-room audio protocol used by Denon and Marantz. HEOS support means the NR1200 can stream to any HEOS-enabled device such as Denon’s range of wireless speakers, or any other components that support the HEOS standard. Baked into the NR1200’s firmware is embedded support for streaming from Spotify Connect, Deezer, TIDAL, Napster, Pandora, and SiriusXM. Embedded streaming is vital because it enables streaming without the need to tether a smartphone. With embedded streaming you can select the music you want to stream using a smartphone and the NR1200 will then fetch the data itself so you can move out of network range and the music will still carry on playing. Embedded streaming can handle audio at much higher resolutions than either Bluetooth or AirPlay can, which is ideal for subscribers to TIDAL’s Hi-Fi or the Qobuz top tier subscription.

And now to the slightly odd thing about this clever device; it has one of the strangest and most idiosyncratic interfaces I’ve ever used. With just a single FL display to navigate around menus and options, it’s not the most intuitive system and can be a bit cumbersome when entering things like a Wi-Fi password or HEOS account details. Fortunately, there’s a way around this shortcoming by plugging the NR1200 into a TV via an HDMI cable and an interface will appear on the screen to make setting up the NR1200 a bit easier. The TV can also display the album artwork for whatever music you happen to be streaming. The on-screen interface isn’t the prettiest or most intuitive I’ve ever used, but it’s better than nothing. The TV interface also makes setting up or logging into a HEOS account much easier. A HEOS account is essential if you want the NR1200 to access your streaming subscriptions and it works as an aggregator of your music sources whether that be a streaming service or music files stored on a local server.

Ordinarily, the NR1200 can be controlled using the free Marantz AV Remote app. However, to access HEOS for streaming services, it’s necessary to use the free HEOS app. It’s not easy or intuitive juggling two apps to play music on one device, but fortunately there is a link to launch the HEOS app from within the Marantz app. Please stay awake at the back! There’s also a physical remote control that has direct access to all input sources which can be used to control music, adjust volume and access menu options. The remote control also has four “Smart Select” buttons that provide one-press access to favorite music sources and input settings. For example, one Smart Select button might be programmed to recall a favorite FM radio station, while another could switch to a vinyl setup. A third Smart Select button could be used for streaming Spotify, while the fourth could store an Internet radio station on Tune-In. These four buttons make using the NR1200 a lot less hassle once they’ve been programmed.

As I’ve hinted already, the sound of the Marantz NR1200 is as good as anything I’ve ever heard before at this price point. The inclusion of premium-grade electronic components – such as capacitors and power transistors – really make themselves heard. The sound is beautifully clean, clear and neutral, with a flat response that doesn’t color or muddy the music. There are tone controls for treble and bass if you want them, but the direct sound is spot on for my tastes. With a combined 150 W of power into 8Ω, the NR1200 has a muscular bass that underpins the music beautifully. The midrange has a splendid clarity while the top end is silky smooth and always controlled. Most of all, the stereo channel separation is incredibly precise, creating a fabulously focussed soundstage that locates instruments accurately. You can partner the NR1200 with almost any loudspeakers because there’s enough power to drive even a demanding pair of floorstanders or a subwoofer, if you want one.

The NR1200 has a choice of three sound modes: Stereo, Direct, and Pure Direct. The Stereo mode routes the audio via the NR1200’s tone controls and will apply M-DAX if it’s been selected. M-DAX is a kind of sound processing that can boost the bass and treble of lower-quality MP3 files or other audio of dubious heritage. M-DAX is probably best ignored most of the time and the Direct Mode cuts out the sonic influence of M-DAX and the tone controls. Finally, Pure Direct does much the same as Direct Mode but additionally disables the FL display and a few other bits of circuitry that may create electrical noise that might affect the sound. Most listeners will be quite happy using the default Stereo Mode but purists will definitely opt for the Pure Direct Mode.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Marantz NR1200 is how much it can be customized to suit a user’s needs. Inputs can be renamed and have their volume adjusted to give uniform sound levels across all inputs. So many settings can be tweaked and stored that nerds like me will be in their element just leafing through the 200-page user’s manual and tinkering to create the perfect sound system.

Verdict: I loved the Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver because it has just about every input and output you could ever want from a home audio system. The sound is beautifully clean and perfectly balanced with plenty of power to drive even the most demanding loudspeakers. The detail and musicality of the NR1200 is captivating. With some great loudspeakers, the NR1200 makes for a solid and affordable centerpiece for any home audio system. All you need to add is a vinyl turntable and a CD player and you have all your music bases covered. Using the five HDMI inputs, it’s possible to link up a DVD player, TV Box, PlayStation, or any other video device. Perhaps my only criticism is the rather convoluted interface and lack of a color LCD display for album artwork. If you want an all-in-one stereo receiver that offers incredible value for money and superb performance, the Marantz NR1200 is really hard to beat.

Pricing and availability: £599 / $599 / €599

More info:


  • Two-channel discrete power amplifier with separate L/R power amp circuit and power transformer with 75W per channel.
  • Streaming support via Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Internet Radio, Spotify Free and Premium, Amazon Music, Tidal, Network Audio Streaming.
  • HEOS wireless multi-room audio, voice control, digital music streaming via App
  • Hi-Res Audio support for ALAC, FLAC and WAV lossless files up to 24-bit/192-kHz, as well as DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz tracks. Listen to music via the front panel USB port or over network sources.
  • Integrated phono input for vinyl turntables.
  • Five HDMI inputs with full HDCP 2.3 support plus one HDMI out with ARC.
  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Ensures Xbox One users have a more responsive and immersive gaming experience when connected with select TV models that also support ALLM.
  • HDMI CEC Functionality for controlling the NR1200 with a Smart TV remote via the HDMI CEC functionality associated with Smart TVs.
  • Included Setup Assistant offers clear, graphical on-screen direction, and the Quick Start Guide ensures optimal setup for any configuration.
  • Four Smart Select function buttons on the included remote control store preferred setup. With the push of a button, the NR1200 configures for any source, from Blu-ray to TV set-top box, to users’ favorite Internet radio station and more.
  • Bluetooth Headphone out: Listen to music or TV programs via wireless headphones, either simultaneously with the speakers on, or individually. A regular socket is also included for wired headphone listening.
  • Dual Subwoofer Outputs: Supports dual subwoofers for even, lower-frequency bass response.

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I’ve been a tech journalist for more than 35 years and I’ve written for both Mac and PC computing titles as well as spending many years writing about audio, imaging and digital cameras for a raft of tech publications. I enjoy all aspects of technology, especially using gadgets that make life more enjoyable, creative and productive. A large part of my time is spent hunting down and testing some of the best and most innovative technology on the market today.

Source: This Marantz Stereo Receiver Could Be The Only Music Player You Need result for amazon electronic and home audio banners

Top 10 Things You Can Upgrade with a Little Electronics Hacking – Whitson Gordon


Never settle for what you’re given. You can upgrade and improve just about anything with a little knowledge and elbow grease, especially if you know a little about electronics. Here are 10 things in your home that you can beef up with a little soldering and DIY know-how.

10. Your TV

You may have the coolest home theater on the block, but even that won’t save you when your TV rebels with the latest celebrity gossip you don’t want to hear. Take control of your TV with the Enough Already, a little DIY gadget that mutes your TV whenever it hears a word or phrase you’ve programmed it to watch out for—like “Justin Beiber” or “Twilight Saga.” While you’re at it, you can use an Arduino to automatically lower the volume if it gets above a certain threshold, like when excessively loud commercials come on.

9. Your Home Security

It may not be as foolproof as a true home security system, but you can make quite a few DIY burglar alarms for almost nothing. $2 gets you a tiny motion alarm that beeps if its moved, while a few more dollars will get you a motion-detecting camera or an SMS-equipped monitor. Heck, you can even build your own LoJack for your car at a fraction of the price. Of course, you can also do quite a bit with just a few webcams and some free software.

8. Your Desk

If your workspace is starting to feel a little cluttered with gadgets, make them work with your desk. Instead of getting another power strip, build an outlet into the desk itself, or embed a USB hub for easy charging and peripheral connection. If you want to take it one step farther, you can add an inductive charging station or even build a computer inside the desk drawer. And, while you’re at it, clean everything up by making your desk lamp cordless for under $20.

7. Your Video Game Consoles

What’s better than having a couple of video game systems in your living room? Not much, except maybe combining them into one mega system that can play nearly any game. If you’re more of a retro gamer, you can do something similar (with much less work) by building an all-in-one retro gaming console inside an NES, inside a briefcase, or even inside a coffee table to mimic the old arcade systems you love so much.

6. Your Cellphone Charger

If you want a really easy DIY project, try upgrading your wall outlets to charge USB devices. You can also build a super-simple portable USB charger in an Altoids tin. For a greener solution, make it solar-powered or charge it with the power of your bike pedaling. And, if you want to do away with wires altogether, we’ve shared a ton of options for modding your phone for wireless charging without the bulky “induction charger” case.

5. Your Transportation

Many of us may upgrade our phones every year to stay up-to-date, but it’s a little harder to do that with cars. If your car’s missing a feature you want, though, just add it yourself. Put in an auxiliary audio jack for only $3, or add Bluetooth capability for wireless streaming wherever you go. If you’re prone to running red lights, you might also consider this GPS hack that warns you when red light cameras are near. And, if you don’t have a car, you can still beef up your transportation with these bike upgrades.

4. Your Headphones

We love headphone hacks, and if you’re willing to dig into your DIY arsenal, you can mod the hardware in quite a few ways. If you have earbuds, you can add an inline remote control with just a little bit of work (and without ruining them). If you have a bigger set of headphones, adding removable cables can be really handy, or you could go wireless altogether and hack them for Bluetooth. Of course, a good pair of earmuffs can also make for a dandy noise-isolating pair of headphones, too.

3. Your Light Switches

Turning on the lights manually is no fun. Instead, mod the lamps in your house to turn on with a wave of your hand, or with an old-school made-at-home clapper. Alternatively, control them with your voice, or set them up in the hallway for easy motion-controlled lights that illuminate your path to the bathroom. Whatever you can think of, it’s probably possible.

2. Your Chores

Doing chores is for chumps. Luckily, an Arduino and a bit of code can automate a ton of chores for you: it can make the plants water themselves, it can feed the cat for you, or even rock your baby to sleep. Just make sure your parents/spouse/roommates don’t find out what you’re up to.

1. Your Home

A home of the future isn’t as far off as science fiction makes it out to be. With a little DIY electronics hacking, you can automate your home to do just about anything: open the blinds when it’s light, tell you who’s at the door, make you coffee with a tweet, unlock your door with a text message, and oh-so-much more. It won’t get you George Jetson’s flying car, but you’ll feel like a futuristic badass nonetheless.

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