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Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Awesome Hardware Hack? 251

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter once asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?
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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Awesome Hardware Hack?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stranded on Mars, I salvaged the old Pathfinder probe to reestablish communications with NASA.

    Mark Watney

    • by danceswithtrees ( 968154 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:31PM (#50664883)

      Dear Mark,
      I enjoyed watching your movie over the weekend. The Pathfinder hack was OK, but quite frankly, I found it rather weak that you had to have the engineers on earth send you the machine code to reprogram the computer. Would have been a much better hack if you coded and hand assembled the program yourself. I guess you can't expect too much from a botanist.

      • Botanist/Mechanical Engineer

        But not a programmer or electrical engineer. A EE would have fixed the original hab antenna.

  • >> Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?

    If you haven't you don't really belong on SlashDot.

    • Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?

      It's such a fine line between stupid, and uh..clever. Yeah, and clever.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:31PM (#50664881)
    I either used or I ordered all my parts custom to save a couple bucks and it was good to run the latest 3d games. Everything came in the mail and I was happy... Until I realized I forgot to order a case. And not to be defeated, I took the UPS box it was shipped in, and carved out port holes. It worked well as a case. The only downside is I couldn't leave my computer on overnight to automatically play video games for me because I worried about it catching fire.
    • I've built a number of skeleton cases from Lego Technic pieces. I once managed to melt a piece -- a rubber tire that was used as a padding under a GPU (connected with an extender cable). Only noticed it due to the odd smell around it. Not exactly my most awesome hack, but I feel for everyone who worries about such issues due to being cheap. I've upped my standards since, and I now use real computer cases found from dumpsters (with mostly useless hardware inside).
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      I once received a first gen xbox for free, back when it was worth something. it had the wrong voltage psu. I ordered a replacement but it didn't work, for some reason.

      so.. some splicing and with a spare atx psu later it was up and running in a jiffy. wouldn't fit in the case anymore of course.

      oh and I used a cardboard box as a pc case too, why not.

      and soldered power in wires to a laptop that had a broken charger port, because why not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:34PM (#50664913)

    The best hack I've ever performed involved sending out a vague and remotely nerdy request to the users of website so I could turn around and write a "5 lifehacks real nerds do" Buzzfeed article.

  • by dlingman ( 1757250 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:34PM (#50664915)

    Only having a 300 baud acoustic modem and a Tandy Color computer 2, I still wanted to run my own home written BBS. Wound up running the phone line through the cassette relay control on the Coco2.

    All night long, Click, see if someone hit return at least one, click - hang up. Click - pick up, watch for return. Click - hang up.

    Must have driven Thunder Bay Tel completely nuts trying to find out why someone would keep picking up and hanging up every 5 seconds or so for weeks on end. This was back in 1984. The BBS lasted about 2 years and did have a fair number of people connect in to it.

  • Accelerated Windows at 9.81 m/s/s. If you round it up and eliminate the units, you get Windows 10.

  • Was an AMD K6-2 350Mhz, Nvidia TNT2 (desktop/video games) and Creative Labs 2 x Voodoo 2 SLI boards (video games) in the late 1990's. My roommates had Intel Pentiums 233MHz systems with lousy video cards. My system blew them out of the water when it came to playing Quake 2 in OpenGL mode. Once you saw OpenGL, you didn't want to go back to software rendering. This rig played a wide variety of video games no matter what the video card requirements were.
    • Put a SiS530 for motherboard chipset and you will be a Winner!
      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Put a SiS530 for motherboard chipset and you will be a Winner!

        Gaah! Why do remind me of this Hell?!?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I also had a K6-2 350MHz box for a long time after my friends had all upgraded to 1GHz Intel boxes. They had 128MB or 256MB RAM, expensive DDR memory. I had 1.5GB (3x 512MB) SDRAM, my computer ran circles around theirs in the games. If I'm remembering right there was still motherboard-installed cache memory, and I had that maxed-out too. Could be wrong about that last part, all of my computers over the years have kind of melded together in my brain.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I had an OCed K6-2 at almost 500 MHz - up from the 350. It was an Acer, of all things, and came with Windows ME. Strangely enough, it was the only system on the entire planet that was actually stable with ME on it. Well, there were three others but they didn't talk about it.

      Anyhow, I had 256 MB of RAM and it was OCed. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was as far as I could overclock it. Anything higher and it would pop an IRQ error on boot or something along those lines. Some 0x0xxxxxx type of er

  • EBike (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Synon ( 847155 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:41PM (#50664977) Homepage
    I built an electric bike powered by old laptop batteries I collect dead laptop batteries from my employer, many of them contain lithium cells that look similar to AA's called 18650's and it's usually just a single bad cell and the rest are good. I put enough in series to give me 48v and enough in parallel to give me 50 miles of range (about 160 cells). I connected the cells together using nickle strips and a tab welder I built from an old microwave transformer. The microwave was covered in stainless steel so I cut that up and used it to build a battery box that fits perfectly in the front triangle of the bike (yes, it's insulated).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:41PM (#50664985)

    My favorite hack of this sort didn't involve electronics at all. The building management that the company I worked rented office space from, installed motion sensors in all the offices, with a system that turned all the office lights off unless someone was actually moving in the office. I was there after 6pm almost every day, sitting quietly in front of a computer (the motion sensors didn't pick this up) so the lights kept going out. I'd have to get up from my chair, walk over to the motion sensor (installed next to the light switch at the entrance of the room), gesture in front of it so the lights would come back on for 1/2 hour or so.

    I finally got a dippy bird ( and set it up with a cup of water next to the motion sensor so it fooled the thing. I had to put the bird on top of a stack of books to get it to the right height etc. I'd ask visitors why they thought I had put the bird there, and they usually didn't figure it out, but would burst out laughing when I told them what it was for. Still a fond memory.

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      Oh yeah, those are neat. Also work very well for nuke plant maintenance

    • While I was an undergrad student the department installed these in our labs, it is very frustrating to have the lights go out on you while soldering surface mount components. Late one evening (or early one morning) I decided I'd had enough so I poked around in the ceiling and bypassed the lighting controller.

      Not quite as simple as a drinking bird but very effective.

    • by xevioso ( 598654 )

      We had this issue at our office. The solution was to hang one of those small helicopters that goes around in a circle if you hook it to the ceiling via a string. If I was staying late, I'd just turn it on, the helicopter would move in a circle until I turned it off, and the lights would stay on.

    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      The ones here are much the same: They won't see you reading or typing, so you get plunged into darkness... then just as you get used to it, someone walks past your door, and of course the sensors see that. Everyone hates the damn things, but it's the law (or so the people who'd have to pay for putting real switches in tell us). Not long after moving into my office here, I taped a coffee cup over the sensor and "borrowed" a desk lamp. It annoys Facilities no end, which makes us even. Dippy bird would have be

  • Modify an old DLP projector to do 3d printing. Still something that it was meant to do sorta.

    Bolt a can opener to something entirely unrelated?

  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:44PM (#50665023)
    In 7th grade, I took a hand-operated bilge pump, a plastic mayo jar and the rear tire from a Tamiya Hornet... and constructed a functional cock pump.

    No, really.

    • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:55PM (#50666153) Homepage Journal
      I can see how that would count as a hardware hack, but I hope you didn't damage any essential components. Or have you moved on to software business?
      • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @09:26PM (#50666767)

        I hope you didn't damage any essential components.

        I didn't really have a chance as it was a short-lived experiment; while I liked to consider the basement workshop to be my own RC lab (aka super-secret lair for The Devising of Strange Contraptions to Masturbate With), the reality was that I needed to disassemble Said Device before I risked having to explain the Purpose to my dad...

        • by chooks ( 71012 )

          I didn't really have a chance as it was a short-lived experiment; while I liked to consider the basement workshop to be my own RC lab (aka super-secret lair for The Devising of Strange Contraptions to Masturbate With), the reality was that I needed to disassemble Said Device before I risked having to explain the Purpose to my dad...

          I hate to break it to you, but your Dad probably already knew the Purpose of the Device.

  • [] This thing. We had to make 200 copies of an orientation CD for university. [] This thing. We had to make 200 frames of a laser cutter for a kickstarter.

    • I did a CD-duplicator robot too. Mine gripped the discs via the center hole, using a wooden clothespin carved to fit in the hole.

  • I turned an ADM3A terminal into a fishtank, so it could continue to live on my desk and amuse me. :)

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:52PM (#50665099) Homepage Journal

    First, the pictures - [] and []

    Old, cheap $3 pair of Cube headphones found at Big Lots. Had them for years, cabling finally gave out. Came across a broken Polaroid PBT598 bluetooth speaker set, literally the only thing intact was the gumstick amp/bluetooth board, and even then it had damage, it having fried a couple of SMT capacitors, the battery and speaker trace pads were missing.

    So, first order of business, get the SMT caps replaced. Easily done - just salvage components from various boards I've got around the house. Slightly trickier was exposing traces and fresh metal to solder to for battery and speaker connections. Making it fit required Dremel and hot glue work due to the shape of the headphones, and as a result the thing does look like a total hack job on the case itself.

    But if I want to drown the world out in its entirety, 2x3w strapped to my head certainly does it. I can't hear my garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner, or even the neighbor's loud rap music. Volume has to be kept at pretty much 25% as anything higher, while clear (up to about 60%, then the poor speakers begin to distort) simply hurts.

  • About ten years ago I decided to dust off my tele-operated car [] and take it for a spin. I started by plugging the red wire into the battery's negative terminal and the black wire into the positive, and watched as all the magic smoke escaped. I just stood there for 5 minutes staring down at a thousand dollar's worth of ruined electronics. Now I always use an actual black wire instead of adding a little black electrical tape to the end of a red one.

    I eventually built another one a few years later. some [] pics [].

    • Re:I fried a bot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:03PM (#50665199)
      I did the same thing at a Halloween party at church. I was using 2 force feedback driving wheels playing Daytona USA networked on the Nebula2 emulator. My daughter plugged the wrong power supply into the driving wheel and tons of thick white smoke came out of it. It didn't work at all. We laid hands on it and prayed and it worked for the entire night and still works to this day!
  • Here's a hardware hack I need some serious help with. I've tried everything, and it seems like it's something someone out there would have figured out by now.

    I have a bluetooth speaker. My phone is paired with it. I can listen to music from my phone or ipad on it via bluetooth. However, due to an accident, the input jack on the speaker (headphone size) is broken, so I am ONLY able to listen to music by pairing it.

    What I would like to do is use my phone to play on two different devices, one of which is t

    • If you can't crack open the Jam and fix the jack, you need to return your credentials and work as an auto detailer.

      Actually, you failed Google []. Since you asked, I'll answer.

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      I have a bluetooth speaker. My phone is paired with it. I can listen to music from my phone or ipad on it via bluetooth. However, due to an accident, the input jack on the speaker (headphone size) is broken, so I am ONLY able to listen to music by pairing it.

      Open it up and solder on a new one. If necessary, chop up one of these [] and solder it on (if the board is too damaged to simply put on a new jack). It's not exactly a hack, more of a mere repair, but it seems to me that if you aren't in a position to repair it, you aren't in a position to hack it either.

    • by unrtst ( 777550 )

      $20 no need to do any hacking direct solution: []
      It's a bluetooth transmitter and splitter. It splits the audio fed to it via 3.5mm TRS plug (headphone connector, like the output from your phone), and sends to up to two bluetooth speakers.

      Or, just fix the wired connection on your speaker (open it up, re-soldier it), and use a normal wired splitter.

      Or, open up your bluetooth speaker, and split the speaker wire to drive another speaker, and wire it to the other speaker you have.

  • Put in a DVD drive where you flip the motor so it reads inversely and skips the DRM checking. Soldered in a mod chip onto the mainboard's debug extension. All for the purpose of being able to play backup games... Not ISOs I downloaded online and burnt on a DVD no, backup games.
  • by dfsmith ( 960400 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @05:57PM (#50665147) Homepage Journal

    Here are a couple of bodges from when I was back in school (i.e., over 25 years ago). Sadly, these projects would be more difficult for me today.

    TV remote: Before TVs came with a remote control, I wired a long cable to my computer's joystick. Feedback came through speech synthesis (the TV was busy), and when I pressed the button, a servo would select the channel I wanted.

    Coin relief map: I wanted to digitize the relief (imprint) on the surface of a coin. I used a pin in a capillary tube with two coils of fine wire to make a variable core transformer to measure z-height. The x-y stage was Lego Technics, with PWM controlled motors (running on an ARM2 in interrupt space). It worked far better than it ought to have.

  • Way back in the day, I soldered some Happ Controls arcade joysticks and buttons to some PC gamepads. This was when there were less than 80 games in MAME.
  • by Port-0 ( 301613 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:02PM (#50665195)

    This was a long time ago, but I wired up a photometer (counts photons) to an Apple 2 joystick port, then wrote a tight 6502 assembler timed loop that would count pulses on the joystick button input. It would accurately read over 50,000 button presses per second, which was good enough to do variable star photometry. I also wrote an applesoft basic program that assisted in the process of variable star photometry and used the assembler routine to read values from the photometer. By connecting the photometer to a telescope and following directions of where to aim the telescope given by the software, it could be used to observe and graph brightness of variable stars over time. Also could be used to calculate the angular velocity of asteroids. This was is the days before extrasolar planets were found, but similar in principle to how that is done. Though the objects we were looking at were orders of magnitude brighter than the brightness fluctuations observed to find planets.

  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:06PM (#50665223) Homepage Journal

    I used to buy single sided floppy disks and then use a hole punch to create the track index hole and the write tab. This turned it into a double-sided floppy. I'd this with good quality Verbatim disks. You could then take the disk out of the single sided drive and flip it over -- by hand -- to get double the capacity. But that was way before most of you young punks were even born. Now... get off my lawn.

    Actually, my best hardware hack was an Arduino device that I turned into a product which has since sold thousands of units. 32kB flash, 2.5kB SRAM. Can send messages via the international space station.

    • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @07:59PM (#50666181)

      Kudos to you for keeping track of your single-sided floppies. I'd always accidentally flip them over, at which point they'd promptly disappear.

      • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )

        That single-sided material is what's used to make a bag of holding []. Or a Tardis.

    • by chooks ( 71012 )

      Ah memories. I did that to a game disk (Gunship by Microprose for the C64). But then when I saved a game I forgot to turn it over to the "blank" side and ended up wiping the game. That I had borrowed. And then had to come up with $35 (!) to replace it. One of my first auto-LARTs.

      While the sound of the 1540 chugging away was nice, it's hard to replace the bare-metal sound of the TI-99/4A tape drive loading a program :)

  • Wire wrapped PCB containing a GPIO chip and a Z80 running my recreation of the 3" floppy protocol and a subset of PC BIOS (burned into an EPROM), a PAL with some delay lines to convert bus timings from Z80 to x86, a PC XT connector, a PC Winchester controller card which now talked to the Z80, and a 5MB? HD. The Commodore saw it as a 3" drive (which supported subdirectories) that happened to be quite a bit larger than the floppy. Later I taped up a PCB on large mylar sheets, still have the films in the gar

  • 0. Many old IDE drives failed when the stepper drivers got flaky and when hot would crash the heads. I put them on long cables, stuffed them in a freezer compartment, and they would usually live long enough to be backed up. Seagates did this some, but Maxtors were the worst.

    1. When I was asked to install a 750MB drive in an old Novell 2.15c server, it took some thinking to figure out how many disk buffers would be needed to access the drive reliably. The customer asked me to leave the DCB attached, with

    • by rworne ( 538610 )

      The Selectric stuff wouldn't interest anyone here.

      Au contraire!

      I'd love to hear the IBM electomechanical typewriter hacks. Those were the coolest typewriters ever built.

      • Don't get me started on turning Mag Card I/O into terminals. The selectors and solenoids were fairly straightforward, and the transmit was sufficient for keyboard data.

        The 5218, I think that's the model, was a Selectric Printer for the DisplayWriter. Letter quality, reliable, not too noisy. The 5219(?) Daisy printer could not be repurposed to print from PCs , but you could run MS-DOS 2.11 on the DisplayWriter. Just needed the 8" floppies.

        Many Selectric models were controlled electrically, Composers and E

        • And hopefully Lollipop brings a reliable keyboard for my Nexus 7.2. Grrr.

        • by rworne ( 538610 )

          I never saw a DisplayWriter.

          I could have sworn there was a commercial attachment/accessory for the Selectric that turned it into a normal printer. This was around the time where the daisy-wheel typewriters hit the consumer scene (Olivetti and Smith Corona had ball typewriters for a while too) and a considerable amount of them also had Centronics interfaces available as attachments.

          Nothing beats the Selectric. Much faster than a daisywheel, and they had that lovely mechanical staccato sound that was music

        • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

          A lot of iron and steel foundries in the UK had a particular model of spectrometer built in the 1960s for carrying out analyses of metal samples. This spectrometer had an option of a hard-wired electric typewriter (not an IBM Selectric, a Remington or similar) that would print out the results of an analysis in a simple table. This was before Centronics printers were readily available. Back in the early 80s I worked with a consulting metallurgist to add a box to tap into the signals from the analyser to the

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:30PM (#50665433)

    I once turned a $15,000 laser into a massive paperweight by turning a simple water valve from the "on" position to the "off" position.

    Oh, wait, you mean a hack that did something useful? Well, I made an iPad stand out of a pile of dirty laundry, but I don't really like to brag about it.

  • 66KPH (Score:5, Funny)

    by o_ferguson ( 836655 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @06:35PM (#50665471)
    One year I was working at a Radio Shack in Ottawa (South Keys! Recognize!) over Christmas. Actually, it was the last year before they became "The Source." One of the products that corporate was really pushing for the season were these "customization" miniature remote-control car sets, where you could change things like tires. rims, spoilers, etc. and collect different sets to build your own fleet of racers. The margins were huge and the parts were all crap, but they looked cool, and they knew kids who got hooked would want more than one set, and would want to talk with employees about them.

    So, to encourage us sales associates to familiarize ourselves with the kits, they gave each store in the Ottawa region an extra write-off allowance, and told us to use it opening some of the kits and playing with them, and that there would be a race among all the stores at the regional Christmas party in late November.

    I was determined to win, so I asked Artie, the store manager, if adding more batteries was a violation of the "stock parts only" rule, and he said he didn't give a fuck. The motor in the kits was driven by a single 9V battery, so I opened four kits and tore the 9V leads/housings off three of them. I then added them to the remaining car, wiring all the leads in parallel, and gluing the housings to the top of the frame, where I was "supposed" to attach some sort of molded-plastic carapace that looked like an exotic street car.

    We tested it on the carpet in the store and it was very fast, despite getting bogged down in the fibers. We kept it at low speeds because we didn't want to blow the engine out.

    When the big night came, I put in 4 of the expensive lithium 9Vs from the top shelf. I put it down on the hard wood of the race track, next to seven other cars, each with just the stock design, despite their varied appearances. One of the visiting executives called a simple "Ready, set go!" and pandemonium ensued. You see, nobody had realized that all the sets being used were still configured with the default radio frequency settings. So the start of the race was just a burst of cross-talk, and the cars when zipping off in all directions. Our car lost three tires, as its axles spun so fast that the double-sided tape securing the tires to the rims completely delaminated.

    Anyway, we eventually realized that there were not enough frequencies available to race the cars all at once, so the decided to judge the winner with a small device that simply measured the rotational velocity of the wheels and reported back an actual speed (as opposed to scale speed) in kilometers per hour. I replaced the tires on our car, and brought it to the tester. After the performance with the tires, they let me get tested last. The record car among the other seven was capable of a respectable 11 km/H. I put the car in the test bed, and gently pulled the throttle trigger up to maxim. The tester stared at it a moment, as the wheels whined away with a high-pitched scream. "Sixty six." he finally said, slowly, as if not really believing the number on the display. "Sixty..." and then motor burst into flames.

  • I once used a roach clip to hold an irregularly-shaped specimen onto the stage of a scanning electron microscope.

    This was at the University of Washington back in the mid 1980's, and the hack was prompted by the professor (who shall remain nameless) saying, "What we need is something like, you know, a roach clip."

    I ran down to one of the many head stores on the Ave, bought a $3 roach clip, came back and affixed it to the specimen stage. It worked perfectly, and for all I know may still be in use today.

    The SE

  • Just hardware. I was about 7; we took the tubing from an old TV antenna and fashioned a hang-glider frame. I'm guessing it was about a meter wide. We painted it and while it was wet, draped a dry-cleaning bag on it using the paint as adhesive. Coat hanger wire for the crossbar and a G.I Joe and it looked awesome. At first it flew badly but we slipped a skateboard wheel bearing on to the back of one of the tubes for a balance - nearly perfect. There was a big construction project on the hill behind us.
  • Garden hose (Score:5, Interesting)

    by endoboy ( 560088 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @09:09PM (#50666687)

    Hurricane Sandy in 2012--
    a foot of water in the basement and climbing.
    Not a pump to be had-- hours of phone calls revealed that I was last in line at the sump pump store; even if I could have gotten a pump there was no electricity.
    Realized that we lived on a hill; set up a gravity siphon using 200' of garden hose.

    Woke up the next morning to a dry basement, power came back a few hours later.

  • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Monday October 05, 2015 @09:22PM (#50666747) Homepage Journal

    1. I was told that Unix couldn't dual boot with MS-DOS... so I patched the boot sector to load an alternative version of itself into RAM before system start if an unused bit was set (thus enabling DOS to boot)... so I could reboot back and forth... sometime around 1985.
    2. Built a box with a Z80, 2764 EPROM, A/D converter, speech chip and a hacked together telephone interface... had 4 inputs and read the voltages of each to the caller on the phone, twice... then hung up.
    3. Wrote a Forth for OS/2 in assembler... because I was told you couldn't write assembler programs in OS/2.
    4. Built a system out of solar cells behind a filter, to detect infrared laser, and help align laser CATV links, with a companion box to generate a tone to feed into the transmitting laser.
    5. Used a bi-color LED as light and sensor to detect a beam break to a reflector. (Green light can be detected by the red LED, but not vice-versa)

  • I used a #2 pencil to hack my Athlon CPU to unlock it for better overclocking.
  • My worst fail would probably be the time I (many years ago before I understood computers as well as I do today) used glue to attach a CPU heatsink and fan to the CPU. That plus the decision to use the heatsink and fan from a Pentium 166 MMX on a 300MHz Cyrix part is probably what eventually killed the CPU.

    These days I only use proper CPU thermal gunk and I use the heatsink and fan that Intel supplies with its chips (or if the chip didn't come with one, I buy the one that Intel tells me I need)

    Can't think of

  • Once upon a time I locked myself out of a running car and needed to stall it while I walked home to get the spare (pre-cell phone era). I reached under the bumper - unlatched the hood - removed the airfilter - and using a large glove in the carb slowly smothered it (and no - it didn't suck it in - but that was a worry along with a backfire). Neither happened and the car quietly died.

    I've also started a car using only a screw driver.

  • One of my servers made just this weird vibration noise from the combination of spinning discs and fans. I put a piece of the end of a cut off zip tie under one corner of the server. This raised just the one corner of the server by about 2mm, just enough that the vibration sound disappeared!

  • Some 2600 hacks... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @12:36AM (#50667647)

    (in the jolly days before digital switching)

    Friend was diagnosed with cancer and was recovering from chemo in New Jersey some 1500 miles away. She ran a local ballet company for 30 years and it was to be the first time she had ever been away for their Spring performance. I was sound technician at the theater and we cooked up a scheme to telecast the performance to her. There were a several payphones outside, and I grabbed my butt-set and discovered their pairs appeared in the basement. I put a temporary jumper from one across to an unused pair of the theater's Bell 1A2 key system so it would appear up in the sound booth, put a single line phone on it with a simple phone patch (just a 600 ohm transformer, resistor and capacitor) to an output from the mixing board. A co-conspirator drove 30 miles to the house in New Jersey in which she was staying to install another phone patch into a good Hi-Fi amp and speakers. That night just before the performance I hung an 'out of order' sign on the payphone and we dialed an 800 number in the payphone line from the booth and Blue Box 2600/MF'd the call over to the New Jersey house, and patched in. During the performance one of the dance instructors sat in the house whispering into a microphone with commentary on what the dancers were doing, which went into the private mix. Cost of call: $0. It was all in place and ready minutes before the performance began, a real high-five moment because we came up with the idea to do it three hours before.

    Also lots of explore sessions which I'd do from an empty conference room at the University because there were two phones there and dial-9 local toll restriction was so easy to bypass (it was 'supervised', inject quick local digits before telco dial tone). One call I made in stages: into New Jersey (Atlantic path) -> France -> Tokyo -> Hawaii -> local number (knowing it would return via Pacific path), then finally ringing the extension of the phone next to it. Literally a call manually routed around the world. Quality was awful, my 'Hello' was audible bit it sounded like 'helawk' some 2+ seconds later.

    Also various random numbers to confused persons in Moscow, in Cold War days before USSR direct dial was permitted from the USA. So you bounce through France. Bouncing between UK/France a couple times then back home was loud, echo-y and strange sounding, the Brits liked their trunks piping hot.

  • by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @12:49AM (#50667691)

    I once soldered two safety pins on my Remco crystal radio science kit and poked them in to the phone wire leading down my parent's house. Found what I was getting for Christmas. Felt guilty and never did it again.

    Then there's the intercom feature I added to my 5 tube superheterodyne radio. Speaker also acted as a microphone.

    I won't get in to that.

  • Fire fire fire...compliments of bnb... Here beavis...

  • I used my Tandy 1000ex as a tire chock for a number of years. It made an excellent weighty wedge to keep my trailer in place.
  • by hugetoon ( 766694 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:25AM (#50668767)

    - A hardware boot selector knob wired to joystick port (the four buttons input pins) with a diode mesh to encode the 12 knob positions into binary combinations of grounded pins. Along with view bytes of assembly in MBR to boot the right partition and a .com file for DOS to chose wither to start the GUI (Win95/ W3.11) and a shell script under linux reading /dev/port to choose wither start X11 or not. That was a nice hack that allowed me to position the knob to the configuration I wanted at startup and reboot the box without the need to wait for the boot manager menu to popup so I could do something else.

    - Rewiring a pin on an ISA modem card to use the IRQ6 (floppy) instead of IRQ3 or 4, this allowed me to serve one more line with my fax server

    - The most epic one: I was handing around with older folks who were trying to debug a DOS program protected by a sentinel dongle connected to a parallel port the problem was that the software was using interrupt vector bytes to store the variable so as soon as it started, it was overwriting the adders of the IRQ handler used by the debugger. What I suggested was to to take a pin from the parallel port and connect it to an IRQ pin of the ISA bus. Thus when the software tried to communicate with the dongle (well, actually a couple of hundreds of cycles later), they could trigger a memory dump and analyze the code that was encrypted in memory the rest of the time.

  • Blogged about it 2 years ago: []

    The server...

    • - costs me, energy-wise, only about 3-3.5W
    • - is always accessible even though I have a dynamic IP (via free DNS providers)
    • - has a Lighttpd web server so I can share things with the world
    • - has an Exim mail server, so I can receive mail over (E)SMTP, store it in my house, and read it over SSH/mutt
    • - can be SSH-ed into, which allows me to Wake-On-LAN my main desktop, whenever I need access to it
    • r- uns long running web downl
  • I used parts from discarded scanners, dot matrix and inkjet printers to make a Mendel90-style RepStrap.
  • I rewired a clock radio and a spare spring reverb box to run into instruments that I ran into a guitar amp for use at a noise show. Does that count?
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @09:36AM (#50669845) Homepage Journal

    Back in the mid '90s playing Doom and Quake using mouse look, I had a problem that my left hand would cramp up horribly from trying to handle all of the keyboard buttons.

    So I took a few old mice, a copping saw, hot glue gun, and soldering iron, and made my own left hand controller.

    It resembled two mice going at it. The upper mouse my hand rested on and the first segment of my pointer and middle fingers controlled the top mouse buttons, and my finger tips controlled the bottom mouse buttons. Thumb and pink controlled side buttons.

    I ran the mice wires into an AT keyboard (this was either pre-USB or really early in the rollout) and solder them in as a secondary path for assorted keys.

    It was the greatest thing since sliced bread IMO. These days you can get quality made left handed controllers like the Nostromo 52 and other ergonomically designed devices, so I haven't been hacking up mice any more ;)


Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.