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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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This question is now closed.

techno hacks you say?
My life since as far back as i can remember has been full of DIY hacks.

Click >here< to download hot pron*

*may actually be trojan
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 6:16, Reply)
My Land Rover
I could write a list as long as my arm. There was a lot of sellotape, some gaffa (where would the world be without it?) and very little solder.

One of the doors was painted in a shade of 'Thomas the Tank' blue, because I'd bought the wrong colour and had painted the whole thing before I realised.

The best one was the weekend I re-sealed the roof. I spent an age drilling out all the old rivets holding it on, and even longer using a heat gun to scrape out all the manky old black sealant.

It was at this point I realised that I had a sodding great sheet of MDF to pick up for my brother that day.

Now here's a message to all those Subaru Impreza drivers (in the style of Crocodile Dundee). That's not a spoiler, *that's* a spoiler!
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 3:27, Reply)
My Mother's downstairs khazi
It was a proper old 1980s thing, with a chrome handle which sprouted from the side of the cistern. All was fine until one day, after about 25 years loyal service, the handle snapped clean off.

So I do what any man would, and scour the house looking for a suitable bodged replacement. Eventually I find an old wooden spoon which had been used to stir wallpaper paste. I used an insane quantity of LX tape (PVC or Insulating Tape for the non-roadies amongst us) to fix it to what remained of the handle... and bingo!

It was like that for months and months before it broke. So my Mother bought a new one.

Not a new wooden spoon, but a new bog. And a new hand basin to go with it. She mumbled something about friends coming to stay.

More money than sense, some people...
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 3:19, Reply)
well it worked - whats your problem woman?
A phrase that is guaranteed to strike terror into Mrs Spimf is to hear me say ‘don’t worry – I’ll rig something’ particularly where voltage is involved. But then in some solutions beauty lies in simplicity.

While sitting one evening watching telly, our daft cat knocked a lamp off the window ledge – a rather nice bay window finished in hardwood. Cursing the cat and muttering about having to go and find another bulb I trudged off - why is it they burn extra bright for a while after being dropped before they conk out? Lamps that is, cats are a different matter entirely.

Some brief clanking and rummaging in the kitchen and I returned with a new bulb.

And a hammer.

Quick bit of Spimf handywork and there I was plonked back on the sofa, feeling quite pleased with my efforts.

Mrs Spimf was for once speechless. Granted the lamp was now casting its SoftGlow 40 watt peachiness into the bay window and there was very little chance the cat would knock it over again soon…

...but nailing the base of the lamp to the window ledge?

Women, sometimes theres just no pleasing them.
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 0:02, 2 replies)
There is absolutely nothing that you can't carry on a motorcycle
With a bit of ingenuity, a bit of gaffa tape and a healthy disregard for the Highway Code.

Such as a big bit of art and a duvet...

(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 22:52, 6 replies)
..you stick a packet of polo mints into the cigeratte lighter on an early Toyota HiAce van, the horn sounds.


No idea why, but it made me laugh.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 22:13, 3 replies)
Mixing it up...
One that perhaps only the ladies will understand but which was a little bit of creative genius if I say so myself - and I do.

Gummy thick nail polish? Adding a bit of nail polish remover will thin it down but takes much shaking and rolling the bottle around to get it properly mixed in.
What you really need is something to spin that bottle superfast.
Sadly my home is unequiped with any centrifuge type equipment and the hubby feels it would be better value to just buy more nail polish.

But I do have a salad spinner
(like this, for the salad dodgers out there: www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_-ptDgxLIo its a genuis invention all by itself).

Pop in the bottle, give it a quick few rotations and hey presto: lovely fluid nail polish.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 22:04, 1 reply)
More vehicle-related bodging.
Hole in the exhaust?

Just cut a tin of beans up to give you a flat sheet of metal, smother with gun gum, wrap it around the exhuast, and secure with jubilee clips.

Works wonders and, if done properly, can last for months.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 21:18, 3 replies)
Baler twine
Coming back from a family holiday in France we noticed that the car's exhaust was making a funny noise. At the next service station and after a quick examination we found it was loose. Dad decided to tie it to the rest of the car using some baler twine (orange baler twine, for any baler twine enthusiasts out there).
Somehwere in Kent, however, the heat of the exhaust fumes burnt through the twine just in time for us three pods sat in the back to see it fall off and bounce away behind us on the motorway.
"Er, is the exhaust supposed to have come off like that?"
Good old baler twine.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 21:11, 1 reply)
I was about 7 or 8 and had been given a set of screwdrivers for xmas for some reason
What a silly, silly thing to do, shortly after that pretty much anything that was held together with screws and was within my reach quickly became an interesting (to my mind at least) collection of pieces that may once have formed a plug, a radio control car, dad's radio, a digital watch, who knows?
Most of the time it was miraculously reassembled again correctly afterwards. Sometimes it wasn't. This is kinda one of those times.

One day, bored, screwdrivers in hand, looking for new screws to loosen and new battery compartments to accidentally sever connections to, I happened upon a talking doll that belonged to my my older sister.
Respect for other people's property? pffft. The thought "Wonder how that works?" instantly burns its way into my mind and I proceed to unscrew said voicebox from dolls back with the single aim of sating this sudden thrist for knowledge. With the back off and the voicebox in my hand I suddenly realise its shape is uncannily similar to the panel on the underside of my talking police car...a talking police car made by the same company...talking doll...talking police car...pretty similar products...probably same basic design...same manufacturing process...they wouldn't, would they?

By jingo it's the same unit apart from the colour!

One quick swap and the doll is now immeasureably improved, spouting lines like "Calling all Z-cars, calling all z-cars", "He's got a gun! kapow! kapow!" and, rather bizarelly (for a doll), a police siren.

The Car, however, was most put out and would only say things like "You're pwiddy, am I pwiddy too?" and "take me out to play with you"

If you're a boy (or a girl, I s'pose) with a love of screwdrivers stop reading here because the sad ending now follows:

Even though it was obviously a massive improvement and my sister didn't even play with it anymore, I was made to put the right voicebox back in the doll :(

But my car was MY car to do with as I pleased so, with nothing else to entertain me now, I dismantled the voicebox further to see how it worked. It was actually a small plastic record with several tracks on, all spiralling in from the edge at once, rather than one long individual track - press the button and the spring-loaded 'needle' would end up on one of these tracks randomly.

Very interesting, I thought.

Less interesting, however, was paying proper attention to how it all fitted together BEFORE I'd opened it up further - with a *sproing* noise straight from the comics, several springs liberated themselves from the housing the moment it was fully opened, made their bid for freedom and the talking police car spoke no more after that :(

My sisters doll is still in the bottom drawer of the wardrobe and still speaks if you put batteries in it. My police car, along with many other similar toys slowly got thrown out over the years as my parents realised they were simply the empty shells of toys with none of the exciting and expensive parts still inside them...

One day I'll buy an identical doll and car off ebay and set to work on them.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 18:56, 3 replies)
9 out of 10 dentists do not recommend this.
I almost forgot the best one. Hubby broke his tooth quite badly the night before everything shut down for the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend and there was not a dentist to be found anywhere. The little metal post from a previous repair was slicing his lip to ribbons, and we were due to have family photos taken with some snooty relatives. So I did what any rational person would have done - I grabbed a chunk of white candle and a lighter and made him a fake tooth. We had to replace it a couple of times, as it would eventually work it's way off the little post, but no one ever knew the difference - except for when he pulled it out and tossed it across the breakfast table at my sister-in-law.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 18:13, 1 reply)
Don't look at me like that,, why do you sell them in the first place?
Back in our early broke-as-shit newlyweds phase, we broke an alternator belt coming back from a concert a couple of hundred miles from home. Imagine it - we are tooling down the interstate at 3AM in a deathtrap pickup truck at about 80mph, trying desperately to get somewhere useful before the battery runs down and we lose our headlights. Hubby, being the psycho geekboy McGyver studmuffin he is, had a brilliant idea. It took three or four truckstops (the only thing open at that hour) before we found one that - god knows why - sold pantyhose, with which he was able to construct something close enough to a belt to get us home. He bought a whole bag of them and we had to stop and replace them every 30 miles or so, because they'd stretch and melt, but it worked. The best part for me was watching him dash into truckstop after truckstop (full of really scary people at 3AM) getting more and more frantic, jamming his head in the door and shouting "PANTYHOSE? I NEED PANTYHOSE!" much to the befuddlement of the large hairy men buying white crosses and porn. Good times.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 17:42, Reply)
My Best
Being a long-time uber-geek, I've done tons of hacks of varying quality. However one effort stands out in my mind for it's efficacy, simplicity, and overall genius:

I duct-taped a roll of duct tape to the dash of my car to make a cup holder.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 17:20, 2 replies)
Just this very weekend...
Found myself trying to overtake with little success and much black smoke being pumped from my exhaust, blinding the tosser in a golf tailgating me and generally causing a smokescreen better suited to an low budget war film.
So to anyone blinded by a cloud of stinking diesel smoke being emitted by a slow moving Freelander around Gloucester/south Wales on Saturday evening, I'm sorry, but you will be pleased to know its all fixed now thanks to half a roll of gaffer tape wrapped expertly around a fucked hose...

apologies for shitness of story - I'll try and think of something better later
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 16:53, Reply)
Musical toilets
A friend of mine had his house decorated and added a rather interesting feature to the toilet. The lighting was wired up to a radio and speakers so one could perform one's ablutions with the accompanying sounds of classical FM. Never has shitting been so cultured.

At one party I decided to drink an entire bottle of Jaeger and proceeded to vomit throughout the entirety of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.


Length? Just over an hour I think. It is an unusually long symphony...
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 16:51, Reply)
Not so much a techno-hack story, just a bit of encouragement.
Never take anything back to PC World. Ever. I wouldn't expect anyone here to do such a moronic thing, but apparently the 'Tech Guys', have sales quotas?

Fix it yourselves kids, the world is going mad!
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 16:14, 2 replies)
Ah yes,
broken throttle cables.

I experienced the joys of this not once but twice. On the same motorbike.

What did I do?

Why, I tied a bit of string to the throttle lever and pulled it when I wanted to go faster.

Riding a bike with one hand with the other hand down by your balls is challenging. Changing gear more so.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 16:08, 1 reply)
Hardly technical...
As it was on my old Mini 850. But this was about 25 years ago.

Steaming up a (slight) hill, I obviously had my foot flat on the floor to make anything nearing forward velocity. Once over the peak, it was nice to have some illusion of acceleration as I headed to a large roundabout.

being a Mini, I'd starting pumping the brakes pretty early on, but I wasn't slowing down nearly as "quickly" as usual. And strangely enough, the revs just kept climbing.

Yup, the throttle cable has frayed and gotten stuck in the sheath. Wide open. Approaching a roundabout.

Popping it out of gear, I was presented with "BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS" coming from the engine bay, where pistons were hammering the bonnet in an attempt to get out.

Back into gear then, not wanting to turn the ignition off (steering lock) I just made it around the roundabout, doing a good 65.

Stopping the other side, I waited for the engine to cool and my pulse to go below 200 then had a look. Eventually I managed to change the choke cable with the throttle cable, and get home that way. It's challenging accelerating, lifting off, changing gear and back on the throttle, all with the same hand!

After a week I decided it was too much effort though, and did a proper job. No doubt using sellotape.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 15:57, 1 reply)
my first guitar amp
I got a cheap electric guitar from argos when I was a kid, it weighed about two pounds and was a nightmare to keep in tune. After learning to play a few basic "tunes" I elected to get myself an amp to make the most out of it and possibly start my career as a rock god but they were a little beyond the range of my pocket money.

Then I noticed the jack on the guitar lead was the same size as my uncle's 1960's reel tape machine. Genius. Not only could I plug it in and use the primitive speakers as a makeshift amp, I could also record my noise on tape!

It all worked wonderfully until I realised the other socket was for a microphone and by pluging in the mic and holding it near the pickups I could create the most amazing distortion and feedback. I was in heaven pretending to be a member of Sonic Youth... for about five minutes. I made the mistake of touching the metal strings with the metal top of the mic, completed the circuit and blew every fuse in the house. I swear my bedroom smelled of ozone for the next year or so. I opened the tape recorder up but sadly I'd melted the wiring and turned every glass valve inside it a nice shade of black.

I still have the guitar though, I often pick it up and stand in front of the mirror wondering what might have been.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 15:56, 5 replies)
a carved 'horn' of any light wood
attached to a pony, can make an effective substitute for a unicorn.

Sorry, but the yin-yang balance of this question is way out of whack.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 14:50, Reply)
Megadrive Joypad, Digital Camera and phonline...
Many moons ago, my brother and I temporarily loaned our megadrive joypad to a "friend". He returns the joypad, all's good. Turns out however, the shit gave us his totally crummy, worn out joypad back. Utterly raging, we protest and tell him to give us our damn joypad back.

He of course wouldn't, so bollocks it I thought, I'd try and fix it. The contacts on the inside of the joypad were just worn out, I managed to fix them using masking tape and thin slivers of tin foil! Hurrah! The thing was as good as new :) He's still a total cock, I bear grudges :P

Another time many years later, I tried fixing a digital camera in the middle of our office. It was fairly quiet, people knew what I was doing. I'd forgotten about the nice big capacitor that powered the flash on the inside, and how it probably still retained some charge. I of course electrocute myself and scream at the shock. I got a few odd looks...weirdo :P I gave up on the camera, didn't want any more shocks.

Other dumb things I've done include removing the wire from a telephone cable with my teeth and electrocuting my tongue! It's not a huge amount of current, but I think (and I could be making this up) it made my vision go white and my tongue sort of spasm.

Basically I started off good at fixing things and then just kept shocking myself.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 14:04, 2 replies)
My previous house had used to have a combined kitchen and dining area, but a previous owner had decided to build an extension and move the kitchen into there. From above, imagine an "L" shape at the back of the house: the vertical bit would correspond to the old part, and the horizontal bit to the extension with the kitchen. You with me? Good.

For all kinds of reasons, this kitchen needed a radical overhaul, so it was being gutted and rebuilt. An electician came around to look at the wiring, and asked me why I was still alive.

The kitchen wasn't properly connected to the main circuit. Instead, a wire was run from the ring, though the wall, along the outside of the house, and back through the new wall.

Did I say "wire"? Well, in places, it was. But there were also bits of old coathanger put to novel use.

Recycling isn't always a good idea.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 13:57, 3 replies)
When I was 7
I had a Commodore VIC-20. It was a fantastic thing, and I spent many happy hours programming it in BASIC and playing Duck Shoot.

Unfortunately, the power supply died. It used an odd proprietary PSU, with a 4-pin DIN plug supplying 9 volts and 5 volts.

A good family friend drew me a circuit diagram using two regulators, some diodes and capacitors, and a mains transformer.

I built it inside an old lunchbox, taping the components together with electrical tape (Yep, no soldering, no circuit board, just electrical tape and hookup wire). For some reason my parents were happy with this.

Thing is, it actually worked. I held on to that computer for 7 years and the DIY power supply never failed, though once I nearly electrocuted the cat with it.

I also repaired the floppy drive in my Amstrad PCW 256 using an elastic band.

I also remember when I was around 13 there was a craze for computer modding. I saw LED fans but couldn't afford them (then £15 - that was 3 week's pocket money!). My answer? I superglued strips of tin foil to an ordinary case fan and then jury-rigged an LED to reflect off the foil.

I've always been a bit of a bodger. I started with computers, and then turned my attention to cars. I am currently trying to build a working steam engine out of tin cans.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 12:33, 4 replies)
Fix my bike
I once cut some clothes line wire from the apprentice (Airforce)laundry, formed it into six semi-precision pins
(using pliers and a file)
and held them in with the bottom of a soft drink can retained by a circlip from my stereo, to make the gear selector in my motocrosser work. It worked for years.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 12:27, Reply)
Screwdriver and String
An aquaintance of mine
(not a friend- he still owes me $35 from 23 years ago)
back when I was an Airforce apprentice, drove his car, a shitty Valiant Charger
(an Australian car, I dont know if you have a equivalent)
from from Newcastle through Sydney and to Wagga and back, a trip of around 1200 km round trip using a piece of string tied to a screwdriver as a throttle to operate the belcrank on the carb.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 12:20, 3 replies)
'...what's this funny switch with numbers and V's on it on my PSU? Let's flick it!'


(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 10:40, 13 replies)
Things I have learnt through trying to fix my motorcycle
1. Once you disconnect the fuel line, switching the valve to 'on' does cover you in petrol.

2. Regardless of the deadly current/voltage involved, insulation tape will always do.

3. Engine oil tastes horrible.

4. Once you take most of the engine out, the rear wheel locks. So if you give up halfway through the job, you have to pick up the bike by its arse end and carry it into the garage.

5. You can get hernias from:
a. Using your thigh to push a spanner on a really stubborn bolt
b. Using your thigh to stop the bike falling on you
c. Using your thigh to kick the bike to 'teach the bloody thing a lesson'

6. If you want to 'know what that button does', refer to the Haynes manual first, rather than pressing it.

7. Fixing a bike is so ludicrously manly that for every hour of fixing a bike, you can take 20 minutes to mince around the house in a tutu singing "I'm a little teapot" and nobody can call you a shirt-lifter. Any longer and you probably like the cock

I never apologise for length. After all, the longer it is, the more torque I can get out of it.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 10:05, 5 replies)
Confunded by kettles and Geordies
My Mother, bless her, has always been a bit confounded by technology and such simple things as email, manual gear shifts. But I thought she could at least manage with a kettle!

She's recently moved up to Newcastle with her partner, and is having a bit of difficulty settling down, partly because her new job sucks, and partly because her thoroughly RP ears have a lot of difficulty deciphering some of the natives.

I went up for a stay recently: fair play to her, she's landed a lovely house, except they'd found the hot water tank was slightly leaky. Never mind, a chap was coming around at 9 o'clock tomorrow to fix that.

Promptly at 11:30, the British Working Man stood on the doorstep:


Apparently, he'd come to fix the boiler.

My frightfully refined mother showed him up to the hot water system, where in a startling display of industriousness, he whipped off his tool belt and got straight down to it.


Apparently this was an enquiry as to whether I thought Newcastle would be promoted this year. As a Scunthorpe fan, I expressed the thought that there were a lot of strong teams in the division.


I shut up.

"Gorrablindinthirs, mind"

I gathered he'd probably want a drink, so I toddled down to the kitchen to make him a cuppa.

Now, I'd already received training in my mother's kettle. She doesn't have the regulation type with an element at the bottom, oh no. She has one of these water-filter jobs that actually heats the water on demand. So, quick as a flash, I was back with chummy's tea, and I left him too it.

Ten minutes later I heard a small roar from upstairs.


Wandering back upstairs, I noted that our poor plumber's tea was indeed a bit shite. There was a grisly purple skin on top, almost a bit like gravy. Only purple. Now I've made a few cuppas in my time, and none have ever turned out like this, so we went to inspect the kettle. There we saw testament to my mother's genius with technology.

Apparently the entire button-push mechanism had dropped off this morning, and rather than doing something sensible like - say - boiling water in a pan, my mother had attempted to fix it. With plasticine.

Bearing in mind that the push button and very powerful heating element were connected, this was less of a success than she might have imagined. Upon pressing the button, the element had sprung to life, the plasticine had liquidised and slowly dribbled down the nozzle, mixing with the freshly filtered water. Very shortly, some solidification had taken place, and an unpleasant waxy topping formed on the water.

Apologising gratuitously to the fuming Geordie next to me, I offered to bring him a replacement. "Or would you rather have coffee?"

He shook his head and quipped.

"Tea, why-aye, ah tek' no wax!"

Good to get it out of your system from time to time, isn't it?
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 10:02, 11 replies)
More of a low-tech hack...
but I've just fixed our waste disposal unit by sticking my fingers into it and wiggling them about a bit.
(, Mon 24 Aug 2009, 3:35, 3 replies)

This question is now closed.

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