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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