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This is a question DIY Techno-hacks

Old hard drive platters make wonderfully good drinks coasters - they look dead smart and expensive and you've stopped people reading your old data into the bargain.

Have you taped all your remotes together, peep-show-style? Have you wired your doorbell to the toilet? What enterprising DIY have you done with technology?

Extra points for using sellotape rather than solder.

(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 12:30)
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I'm really bad at fixing things. I couldn't fix my laptop and took it to PCworld.
The rest is history.
Paul Gadd
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 1:10, 2 replies)
Never, ever
Get drunk and try to use your laptop as a urinal. It results in a mountain of confusion the following morning and ultimately, regret.

Managed to get all the files off the hdd anyway.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 0:34, Reply)
How to fix a Playstation 2 with the contents of the fridge.
My PS2, (first gen), died on me a while ago. Well, it was practically on life support, anyway. Not wanting to bin it and buy one of those over inflated PS3 gizmoids, I opened it up...

...to find that it wasn't reading discs properly because the laser in the disk drive wasn't running up and down it's little runners properly, the grease it had been lubricated with at the factory had dried out. The solution, simple. Grease it up!

Unfortunately, I didn't have a shed at the time. I didn't want to use liquid lubrication, (oo-er), something more solid would have to do. Hmm, the fridge! Brilliant! Where's the lard?

But alas, I'm one of those poncey vegetarians, and lard is made from cow. But then I remembered, many years prior, the missus said, 'Let's make a pie!' - and used a small amount of the following as a lard substitute. It lurked in the darkest depths of my (student) fridge, until my Playstation died. I knew it would come in handy.


Many more happy months of Resident Evil 4 ensued. And I even made another pie.

Happy days.

I wonder how many other peoples PS2's ended up in sillicon heaven this way?
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 22:31, 7 replies)
Arson is clearly more my thing
In my time, I've caused fires in two computers, one TV, one phone, an mp3 player, and unexpectedly melted a camera.

If I try to interfere with technology, I'll almost certainly die.
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 22:04, Reply)
I took steampunk
and added corporate sponsorship and self-pity. I call it 'stemo'.
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 20:28, Reply)
Had a row with the missus yesterday.
I am currently on a diet. I weigh myself after my morning ablutions just before I get dressed. Just as I had finished I offered to let her have a go on the scales.

Now, before we go on you have to understand that the bathroom scales have been modified a little. It used to eat batteries very quickly and so I gave up buying PP3's for it and fitted a battery box with a bunch of AAs on a lead instead. This battery box had an on/off switch too so that the scales couldn't even draw any standby juice either. Then the little button switch on one of the feet of the scales fell off and so that pair of contacts are now connected to another switch. Plus you have to remember that I weigh in stones and pounds but she is weighed in Kilos and there is another switch on the bottom for flipping between the two. To operate the scales:
1) Get them out from under the chair without dragging them across the carpet cos that will make the little feet fall off.
2) Switch on at the battery box.
3) Flip the substitute floor contact switch on and off to initiate the calibration sequence (the scales need to do this every time you put new batteries in which, because of point 2, is every time you use it).
4) Once calibrated, flip the foot switch back to on again - the scales will now think someone is standing on them.
5) Get on the scales and read off your weight.
6) Stand on one leg in the vain hope you didn't really weigh that much.
7) Sigh.
8) Get off and switch back both switches.
So you can see, my offer of the scales involved no mean sacrifice on my part because, of course, she is totally incapable of following the perfectly reasonable and logical sequence of necessary steps outlined above.

BUT she jumped down my throat, "WHAT!! with all my clothes on??? (she was already dressed) You just want me to weigh a lot so you can say that I haven't lost any don't you?"

Not really.
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 20:21, Reply)
It might just be me,
but what's the "peep-show-style" of taping all one's remotes together?
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 19:46, 4 replies)
I've never made anything spectacular I'm afraid
my knowledge of fixing or modding technological implements extends to trying to open my first computer case to tell my techy mate what the spec was - as if I'd actually known what I was looking for inside the base unit 10 years ago! Weapon of choice being a screwdriver...then a pair of pliers...then a lighter...finally a mini blow-torch I found kicking about in the garage caused the metal casing to yield. The fact that I had gone in mere millimetres from the power button (while unplugged of course, I wasn't completely retarded... despite appearances) caused mild histrionics in my techy mate. He then proceeded to show me exactly where the correct button for opening up a £900 desktop was. I took his advice and now go to my engineer brother or techy mates when I have problems of a technological matter. I think it's safest for all concerned.

However, having noticed the various cat related stories this QOTW has spawned, I'd like to offer a personal assurance on microchip enabled catflaps. On the whole they're pretty good. You can programme your catflap to only let your own cat(s) in once it's fitted and they can sit in the warmth, swearing at the neighbours' FIP ridden furries, safe in the knowledge that that the diseased and asbokitties cannot gain entry.

The only problem with these - and it's one that I've encountered a LOT - is the fact that the microchip that you've had implanted into fluffykins when you first adopted her has since migrated a little down her back or onto her chest. This is natural and normal and should have been explained to you when you first microchipped her...along with the fact that she will most likely scream like Michael Jackson's trophies because the needle is fucking huge.
it only hurts for a second though and they'll have forgotten about it by the time they're back in the carrier. Honest!

The chip scanner in the cat flap works on the basis that the cat puts its head down to push open the flap, scanner reads the chip implanted safely in the shoulderblades and allows access to said kitty if their microchip number has been programmed correctly. Therefore, if it has migrated then kitty will not be able to come and go and enrage the other mangey furballs as it wishes.


Edit: This is not a rant against pet microchips or the available cat flaps at all. The chips have helped reunite pets and owners for years now – more than 30 of which I’ve experienced myself. I just wish the technology was a bit better for the cat flaps
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 19:08, 6 replies)
Rubber band power!
I used to own a 76 Golf. Fucking brilliant machine. Absolutely bulletproof. Well, it might have been, I never actually tested that bit.

Anyway, one evening after work, I was travelling down the Roseville side of the Roseville Bridge, which is ridiculously steep on that side. So much so, that a friend once clocked his bicycle speedo going down it, and it went to 100km/h. Anyway, part way down this hill, already doing 80, the spring on the carb which returned the car to idle speed broke, and I travelled down the rest of the hill, pedal literally to the metal.

After a fairly hair-raising ride to my destination (tends to happen when the lowest idle speed the car will do is 2500rpm), I popped the bonnet (hood for you Yanks), and checked out the scenario.

I happened to be working that day in a photo store, and whenever we got the underwater disposable cameras in to develop, I'd often hang on to the large thick rubber band which they had as a wrist strap. I happened to have one of those 'lacky bands with me that day.

So, with a little fiddling (oo-err!), I wound the rubber band round the 2 arms of the carb butterfly which the spring was previously attached to.

Result? Worked a dream. As good if not better than the original, and stayed on the car almost 9 months after that before I got a new spring. Which wasn't as good as the 'lacky.

Length? A little over 12", in a continuous rubber ring.
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 16:58, 5 replies)
Possibly not in keeping with the spirit of the QOTW
But I'm an utter spack at anything electromechanical.

I have found, however, that punching your tv in the right spot will restore the picture. And if your photocopier is playing up then standing over it with a hammer does seem to make it behave. However, headbutting a monitor is not recommended.

I invented a thingie to stick drawing pins in the ceiling. Does that count?
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 16:32, 3 replies)
my PC
Throws out a lot of heat, quad core dual graphics etc. Stock case fans not up to the job. So I took a side panel off, aimed a desk fan inwards, and called it good.
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 16:19, 7 replies)
Mr Bodge
I am well known amongst my friends as the king of bodgers. My guitar amp was probably the best though.

When I was in a band in my uni days I was, as you would expect piss poor. However our band needed a guitar amp. 'No problem' says I. A short trip on ebay and 2 speakers and a 300w car amp were heading my way. A battered old cabinet was given to us from the practice studio as well. But how to power such a beast? Car amps are DC and mains is AC. A PC power supply of course! I am still not sure how I did not die/set fire to our house or how I guessed it but I managed to open up the PSU (bad idea guys unless you really know what your doing) solder on some wiring and fix this through to the amp. Voila! To actually get distortion and stuff we used a zoom pedal. It actually worked pretty damn well. And for the piece de' le resistance... I managed to wire in some Christmas lights too. The guys were all scared of it but It did quite a few gigs with us :)

Once the band got a proper amp I move the amp into a bread bin, gave it neons and it gave us a kicking home sound system.

Other bodges include a wooden PC case, the remote club, the two level entertainment system holding all our consoles and two decent tv's and loads and loads of PC bodges :p

Good times
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 15:36, Reply)
Not so much a techno hack...
as more a hack of techno stuff...
My then girlfriend, now wife (and as of two days ago mother of my son) was something of a stickler for cleaning things "properly" when we first met (I've since cured her of that by being a consistently sloppy pig until she just gave up) and the dust that got caught in skirting boards drove her mad.
Until the day she spotted a tech at work cleaning a powerboard of dust with a can of some compressed air.
An expensive can...
So she started bringing the things home and using them to clean the house.
At one stage it is estimated it was costing about $20 per two metres of skirting board the dust the place.
Good thing they were "free".
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 12:03, 3 replies)
Probably should get around to this
in my new houseshare, if you turn on the lights, the telly changes channels
(, Sun 23 Aug 2009, 10:50, 6 replies)
Not me
But my brother wired the doorbell into the light system.

So when the doorbell rang, the lights went off. Or, if set to night mode, if the doorbell rang, the lights went on. No sound needed. Good for the deaf kid, and no annoying sounds.

It was great until the local kids cottoned onto this and started just ringing the bell and running off.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 23:21, 1 reply)
Not a story,
but they've got this down: thereifixedit.com/

A current fix-it of my own involves a light, gorilla glue, and a stick of deoderant duct-taped to the bathroom mirror.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 20:13, 1 reply)
my friend said he could
'Pimp My Asthma Inhaler'. In the end it was more like a helmet.

Anyway enough about my problems. Where have you hidden those plans Princess?
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 20:01, Reply)
Car bodgeing
A mate of mine was always mucking about with cars; this one time he got an old Silver sports car and put a flux capacitor in - boy did we have some fun.

M. McFly
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 18:46, Reply)
My Playstation insides
are held together with gaffa tape.
The fact it still don't work too well is that I applied plenty of hammer as well
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 18:24, Reply)
Not technology but a strange kind of invention.
My mate Matty used to consider himself an inventor in his early teens.
His most memorable 'invention' was a pair of 'tree climbing shoes'.

'What are tree climbing shoes?' i asked in awe and wonder.

'Come to the park and i'll show you'

So we hopped on our bikes and pedalled off to the park, where Matty removed a pair of modified trainers from his rucksack and presented them to me in all their finery.

Basically a pair of Nike whites with dozens of inch long nails hammered through the bottom, firmly kept in place by a piece of metal layering.

'Cool' thought I.

So he popped them on and approached a rather challenging looking oak tree. With baited breath I watched his rather awkward run up to the tree and watched him leap feet first into the bark.

Strangely enough the nails didn't embed into the tree, his resulting impact forced him to fall backward onto the floor, severely winding himself and slicing a rather neat chunk of flesh out of the bottom of his foot.

I think he threw them into the pond and gave up the idea from then on.

Great days.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 16:03, 1 reply)
Lighterless at College
Alas, all smokers know the true pain they experience, when they have all the requisite bits.......

........apart from fire.

Cue many a 3am experiment trying to make the damn lumpy camel shaped "ahem" rollies to light.

Oh what joy, to discover that a small piece of tinfoil inserted into the end of the cigarette, and then nuking it on high for 10-15 seconds in your mates microwave works a treat.

Well it didi for the cigarette at least....
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 15:43, 5 replies)
telephone cable piped music
In our last house there were telephone extension cables going everywhere when we moved in, and we didn't really need them. I also had a few pairs of computer speakers lying around, so I piped music all over the house out of the back of my computer, using sellotape (yay extra points!) to connect them to a headphone jack off of some knackered headphones, and sellotaping the cables together where necessary. The sound was surprisingly good. As good as the computer speakers would have come out with normally.

The computer was in my office, which was actually the garage of the house. As it had no windows it became known as the cave, and I as captain caveman. Rather foolishly I thought it would be funny to set captain cavemans call as my email noise. Nothing quite makes you jump like captain caveman yelling "blawhadlywahaha" at top volume from several places in your house!

length? It went all the way up the stairs baby.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 15:28, 1 reply)
As an conscientious *cough* 13 year old, I noticed my computer (one of these: www.computinghistory.org.uk/userdata/PRODTHM-3418.jpg ) emitted very hot air out of the vents on the top on the monitor bit and thought "hmm, I should put this to good use."

So for quite some time, I warmed my damp towels by folding them up and placing them over the air vent of the machine.

If I get some some time, I'll get the mister's story of heater woe that ends with "in my country, this is normal". Hehe
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 14:57, 1 reply)
(it means antics!)
I'm in New Zealand, so it's just become today and yesterday I said I'd spin more ripping yarns from the day after 3 days ago.

I've fixed a few DVD players in my time, the most common problem is the 2 axles that hold up the lens carriage dry out and stick. I opened up the one of a chap down the road, lubed up the rods with cooking oil and fired it up. Not fixed. I gave the disc holder thingy a shove and it wiggled in a most improper manner.
I had to take it home and perform a main drive motor transplant with that of a CD player which happened to be same brand and voltage (different model number but, meh), and a damping cog from a CDROM drive, which had been defective on the one that flogged out. It worked, and I was rewarded with pints and pints of glorious beer down the Tav'.

There's a punchline too: the VERY next day, yesterday, MY DVD player began to have the same trouble, intermittently. Rather than go through all that again for no extra beer, I've detached the case so I can give the motor a kick-start with my finger.

Events depicted in this story are real events that took place recently with me in them and I'm not making any of this up at all. It's not that great is it? Why make this up?
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 13:20, 3 replies)
Oh, where do I start?
Well, just this morning I fixed a phone that had been dropped in water, dried, and now was constantly vibrating. I hacksawed the vibration motor out. I knew exactly where to cut because I used to have the same phone. I was mugged by a wave last New Year's Eve, and it washed up this year to provide one last service: blueprints, extracted at hammertime.
I'll post yesterday's DVD player antics tomorrow.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 12:50, 1 reply)
In my second year of University we did not have a working doorbell. We decided to wire up one of the free rape alarms we got from the Freshers fair to it. Unsurprisingly the sound was utterly horrific but we had it for the whole year. Whenever I hear a rape alarm now it takes me back to the good ol' days of uni.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 11:08, 6 replies)
Murderous Landlady?
My first ever flat! A huge and exciting step in any girl's life! (I had lived away from home before, in a somehow increasingly bizarre series of bedsits / houseshares with lovely or mad or alcoholic or alcoholic and mad people, but those are waiting for QOTWs suitable for vomit in washing machine stories.)

Anyway, the flat was, in retrospect, a severely dodgy propect. It was a huge ancient house carved out very crudely into three addresses. All the bills were included, and the landlady lived in Germany mostly, usually employing a local 'craftsman' (leering predatory halfwit) to oversee the property. But it was cheap and full of sunshine, and a teenage Magenta jumped right in, squeaking girly joyful squeakings.

The bathroom was HUGE, a big selling point to a girl used to sharing one in a cupboard with too many unhygienic people. There was an ancient shower over bath setup, and I had honestly asked when shown around exactly why there was a half stripped wire hanging out of the wall next to it. The landlady airily assured me that there used to be a lit cabinet there (right next to the shower?) but the wire was now dead and not at all dangerous. At all. Really. Right.

A few days later I'm painting happily away in there (the decoration throughout was bizarre, but bright clean white is cheap and cheerful) and nudge the wire out of the way with the end of my paintbrush, which was thankfully made of wood. One huge bang, some sparks and smoke and a lot of weirdly threatening fizzling noises result, plus a distinct lack of electricity anywhere in my flat or apparently the building. This leads to a teenage Magenta sat sobbing on the stairs into her mobile to her grandad the electrician, who arrives post haste and is VERY CROSS INDEED.

The bathroom wire was live mains. Right next to the shower head. Just a little bit dangerous?

When the landlady was contacted, now back in Germany, she tried to tell my grandad that this was common back there, because the mains power was weaker. Not "I'm sorry for nearly murdering your grandaughter." My grandad sorted out the wire. She never did apologise, but did go on to arrive from Deutschland unexpectedly and LET HERSELF IN while I was in bed. Cow.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 11:01, 1 reply)
MkIII Escort Mod
I melted the accessories circuit in my 1984 Escort (note to self: If fuses keep blowing, don't just wrap 'em in tin foil and shove 'em back in.) I was driving along and smoke started pouring out of the dash. I had to take the key out to prevent a fire, which locked the steering at around 30mph and meant I ended up on the pavement.

The wiring was totally melted, so I ended up powering the stereo through the accessory loop on my Moss* car alarm. I used this circuit to power a relay, which in turn worked the stereo. The stereo came on when the alarm was turned off, and vice-versa. A neat touch was that I'd also added an electric aerial, which went up and down as a part of the process.

When I finally came to sell the car (1990) I'm sure it was the remote controlled aerial that clinched the deal.

I later got a 1993 Mazda 323F and wired the alarm to flash the pop-up headlights rather than the indicators. I thought it was pretty funky at the time, but with hindsight it probably just made me look like a tosser.

Another tin-foil bodge I used a number of times was when I left my laptop mains lead at home while working away. The power brick took a standard kettle plug, but a lot of hotels have those kettles where the plug is moulded into the base. Unplug the kettle from the wall, tear up two metal strips of Kit-Kat wrapping, poke them into the holes in the socket, and then arrange for them to touch the power pins on the laptop power brick. Worked every time.

*Remember Moss alarms in the early 80s? Jesus, they were shit. I had the one with the interior ultrasonics where a fraction of a millimetre turn of the screw made the difference between the sensors doing nothing even if you jumped around in front of them, or setting the alarm off if a Peekingese farted at 50 paces.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 10:15, Reply)
DChurch's Cavalier tale reminds me.
I myself had a Cav (a bit more recent - think it was an L-reg).

When I got it, the plastic tab that connects the ignition switch to the lock had broken off, so I was given instructions to put the key in (this was important - it takes the steering lock off, you see) and then use a screwdriver on the ignition switch to start the car.

That lasted for a while, but then the car started cutting out every so often. It turned out that the problem was a faulty ignition switch. My solution? Cut the wires to the ignition switch, and wire up a toggle switch (to turn the ignition on and off) and a push switch (to start the engine).

Starting the car became a matter of switching on the toggle switch mounted under the steering column and then pushing the starter button. Dead cool it was. Only problem was, the gauge of wires I used couldn't handle the current going to the starter solenoid, and the wires would sometimes glow red hot.

Then the handbrake cable failed. My ingenious techno-hack? Carry around a brick to stick behind the rear wheel.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 10:05, 4 replies)
Clean the telly
Our first telly was a big 20 inch black and white monster.
Worked fine for 6 months then funny noises came from the on/off switch and it wouldnt turn on. Blew it with an airline and it worked twice then died again. Deecided it was dust in the switch but was unable to take it out.
So I put the telly in the bath, submereged it in water, then left it to dry for 3 days in the airing cupboard. When it seemed bone dry, plugged it in and turned it on using a long pointy wooden stick.
Amazingly I am still alive, it didn't blow up or electrocute me and we only got rid of it when we got a colour one a year later.
(, Sat 22 Aug 2009, 10:00, 4 replies)

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