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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)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Tattoo gun
I'm still a student at college at the moment, but i'm doing art to be able to train to be a tattoo artist. I saw an advertisment in a magazine for a tattoo gun last year that was dirt cheap (£50).

I had fun tattooing water melons and pig skin for a while, ink everywhere but actually quite good.

But one day it exploded and the peddle burnt my foot* but after tinkering i figured out it was only the peddle broken, so I cut the peddle off my sewing machine and hooked it up. Hurrah! I was off again.

Good times.

*serves me right for not wearing shoes
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 11:54, 4 replies)
"I'm sorry, but I broke something that belongs to your sister..."
"Don't worry about it; she's so ditzy I'm sure we can get her a new one and she wouldn't even notice."

"Errr... Don't think so... I broke her hymen..."
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 11:50, 5 replies)
Evaporating metal
This is something which we scientists do routinely. Basically it involves boiling metal (aluminium, silver, gold, chromium, whatever - take your pick) using a tungsten or molybdenum element, which is heated electrically. This is done in a vacuum chamber because of the metal's low vapour pressure and also to avoid oxidation of the metal as it heats up.

The metal vapour then recondenses on the desired substrate (forming mirrors on glass and so on) and indeed condenses everywhere else too. But the problem with this technique is that it's a line of sight thing. Parts of the substrate which are closest to the source get coated with a thicker metal layer.

A way round this is to mount the substrate on a rotating base, so it gets more evenly coated. Edwards, the company which makes the ubiquitous (in UK university science departments at least) 306 Vacuum Coater, offers a device called a Rotatilt, which does this very job. But it's quite expensive, and we didn't have one. So my mate and I made our own.

We used the guts of an old car stereo, which had a 12V DC motor and a nice belt drive system, and mounted on this a platform made out of two old CD-ROMs glued together and fixed to the drive using a bespoke (i.e. hand knitted) mounting. A couple of batteries, some wire and a switch and we were all set.

The finished device looked like a bad scale model of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek. So we decided to call it the Scottish Enterprise, as an ironic nod to the local development authority. I wish I had pictures of it, as this story's a bit crap without them, but hey ho.
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 11:12, Reply)
I Used To Have A Boat
and I had several mobile phones ruined due to an unexpected wave or a splash of water. They unerringly headed for the pocket I kept my phone in and slat water is death to phones.

Then I hit on a high-tech solution. I used a plastic tupperware box to keep my phone in when on the boat. Sorted.

It also doubled as a small floatation aid. The plan was, if the boat sunk, then the plastic box would float to the top, hopefully along with me, and I could grab it, open the box and call the coastguard.

(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 10:09, 7 replies)
Mr Quar'd been itching to get his hands on my ipod
and take it apart to see how it worked.

So I bought one from a car boot sale for £2 - apparently dead, no cables with it, just the 'pod itself.

Couldn't get it to start so handed it over to 'imself. He quickly reduced it to a pile of bits and then, curiousity satisfied, re-assembled it, to find that it worked except for the screen.

The screen lights up but no text appears on it. So I fiddle about until music comes on and then click 'next' when each song ends.

He's happy, I'm happy, the 'pod's happy, everyone's a winner.
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 9:42, 2 replies)
A scientific pearoast
Working as I do in academic research, I get to play with lots of nice toys. The kit is usually bought from research grants, but in the last few years my funding situation has been, shall we say, less than generous. This has meant that while my salary has been paid and we've had a bit of cash for consumables and travel, the equipment capex budget has been essentially zero. I'm sure this will be a familiar tale to anyone involved in science these days.

So when I urgently needed a high voltage power supply, I was stuck, as they're quite expensive and we didn't have one. OK, brain in gear - I'm desperate here. What do I need to make one?

Source of ac signal - yup, we've got a function generator.
Amplifier - no, but I ordered up a couple of power FETs (big transistors) from RS for a few quid, rummaged around the lab for the other components, and built my own.
DC supply for amplifier - OK, we've got power supplies in the lab.
Step-up transformer - scrounged old Fiat ignition coil from a workmate who does a bit of car work on the side.
HT cable - got from car accessory shop for minimal sum.

So half an hour's work and I had myself a high voltage AC supply. This thing was great. Dr Frankenstein would have been spluffing his pants just watching it in operation. It even glowed a nice shade of purple in the dark. I was especially pleased with the fact that it broke so many rules and regulations:

1 - I had no high voltage warning signs. I used to just yell to people who came in the lab to keep clear.
2 - Large quantities of ozone were generated, for which I had no extraction rigged up.
3 - I had no current limiting. Normally high voltage supplies are required to have current limiting resistors built in to prevent too much current being drawn in the case of a short to earth, mainly through the human body. I didn't bother, so this thing was totally lethal.
4 - No shielding of high tension wires. I had bare wires hanging out the end connected to my experiment. I measured the voltage at 80,000V!
5 - As for electromagnetic radiation emissions, let's just say it wouldn't have been awarded a CE mark. Didn't hear of Radio Tay going off air, but it must have been a close thing!

It also emitted a pleasing high pitched whine (it resonated at 8-9kHz) and crackled and sparked a bit from time to time.

Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the kit in a recent lab refurbishment, but I do have pictures from the original posting. See replies.
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 8:54, 6 replies)
The day my iPod died, and was reborn.
I distinctly remember it was on the midnight the final Harry Potter book was released, and I was trotting in the direction of my local Waterstones to pick it up (yes, I am a fag). My iPod, which I had been in loving posession of for about a year at the time (2007), suddenly topples out of my hoodie pocket and falls right down onto the concrete, basically resulting in the front coming off the back, and the various innards spilling out, shattered, onto the moist ground.

One Harry Potter book and a music-less walk home later, I hastily squeeze the innards of the iPod back into the casing, however one piece won't fit. It got left on the table as I clicked the front and the back together again, held the play button and waited.

My iPod is still working fine, and is still missing a clearly non-vital piece. I am not a technical wiz by any standards, I put this repair down to dumb luck.
(, Thu 27 Aug 2009, 0:14, 4 replies)
The unbranded WiFi adaptor plugged into my PC cost the princely sum of £5, and generally works pretty well. However, its casing (marked "WiFiMT") isn't very good at allowing air to circulate around its innards and in the recent weather it has a habit of overheating.

20p heatsink

My solution is presented above: a carefully balanced stack of 20p coins on the main Realtek IC package to act as a heatsink. I haven't been disconnected from the network since. :-)

Other than that, I don't think my mild obsession with the Z80 counts.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 21:09, Reply)
Santa Claus catcher
take 5 pairs of shoes
put them by the door on christmas eve
wait for 'santa' to walk in the room, leaving the light off so as not to wake you
hear the sound of 'SHIT, Claire, help me up- I've fallen'
go "Daddy, is that you? Why have you got loads of presents in a sack with you?"
work out you have caught 'santa'
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 19:18, Reply)
Rescuing wet electronics, or cleaning them.
Most electronic components are in fact waterproof, and many PCBs go through a wash process before final assembly.

However - dropping your mobile or laptop in the bath will fairly reliably kill it.

If you do this - the absolute first thing to do is to remove the battery - don't bother trying to shut it down properly - simply rip the battery out.

Liquid will both cause direct malfunctions - electricity going where it shouldn't - and indirect - corroding tracks which may be only .01mm thick into uselessness. (especially salty or sugary or dirty water)

If it's absolutely clean water - then simply shaking it out, and drying it out for a week or two in a hot place may work.

If it's not, then you need to get rid of the liquid.

Dissasemble completely, remove any speakers or similar mechanical components that water may get into and be trapped in.
Wash each part in hot water with a touch of detergent - trying to jet some under each chip if possible. Then hot water, and ideally a final rinse in distilled hot water. (a dehumidifier is a convenient source of fairly pure water).

Place to dry in a hot place for a week. (I use an oven set to 80C for 6 hours).

You did take pictures so you can put it back together in the right order?

Sugary or milky drinks are especially bad - they don't really properly dry - so even if it seems to work once dried out - corrosion continues and causes it to fail in a week or two.

Length? About 10" long, with a tip that heats to 480C in under a minute.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 18:51, 18 replies)
Cruft on the telly
Since several people have posted about burglar alarms with pressure mats, it reminded me of this.

I crufted up the original design for the player mobility stations on top* 1990's TV series Cyberzone using pressure mats from burglar alarms and a number of different lengths of colored wire.

* lie.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 18:16, Reply)
Laundrette / Laundromat Hack (for you Shermans).
For anyone lucky/poor enough to have suffered the indignity of using a laundrette to launder their clothing you will be aware of the long hours of waiting around for the machines to finish…

I went to boarding school between the ages of 11 and 16 (thanks mum) and we had to do our own laundry, as you would expect.

They had the same (big-fuck-off) washing machines that you get in laundrettes up and down the country (except you didn’t have to pay). The only problem was that there were about 200 kids in our house and only two (big-fuck-off) washing machines so envariably on Saturdays and Sundays the whole school was intending to wash the cum and shit stains out of their name-tag-adhorned Y-fronts so most people either ended up:

Wearing skanky clothes for weeks on end
Washing their clothes in the bath
Wearing wet clothes to school on Monday

For some reason, at age 11 the thought of (eurgh) sharing a washing machine with mates was unthinkable let alone touching their dirty (or clean for that matter) grundies. This was obviously out of the question.

So, one Monday morning I am late for school, I have no clean clothes and Im fucked if Im borrowing anyone elses (eurgh!) so I decide to skive the morning off and hide in the laundry while my school clothes are washing and drying. When I get there one of the machines is out of service with a chap fixing it and the other is in use. I get chatting to the repair man and as is the want of small children everywhere I watched as he fusses over the big cogs and pipes and eventually fixes the broken machine.

His last task is to set the machine running to make sure it works. Satisfied with a job well done he sets off to leave…

Me: Oh, do you have to leave it running? I need to wash my school shirts and Im already late…
Repairman: Your not supposed to stop it mid run but… Watch this:

And he proceeds to reach round the back of the washer and presses a big orange button which fast-forwards the cycle (!).

Repairman: Now I have to get off but if you hold that button down until the cycle ends you only need to wait a minute for the door to unlock and you can use it… Oh, and don’t tell anyone mind or I’ll be in trouble.

Me: Don’t worry, I won't.

And I didn’t – I never told a soul.

I was also never short of clean dry clothes again either.

I would sometimes feel guilty for jumping the queue but generally felt quite smart. Particularly when my bully (Hello Jon! Your brother told me he caught you wanking off your dog you sick fuck) came to collect his washing to find it still dirty, wet and soapy on the floor by the washing machine.

“Mnnnnnuuuur, how did that happen?”

Ho hum.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 17:17, 2 replies)
Door bell/alarm
Our doorbell broke. At the same time we were thinking of investing in a house alarm. To (almost) resolve both issues in a cheap way I came up with the mat-bell-alarm.

First I created a small pressure pad by having two sheets of plywood, cunningly flexed to create a gap between them, and electrical contacts on the internal faces. When placed beneath the (outside) door mat the circuit would be made when someone stepped on the mat. All I had to do was connect this to a bell or buzzer, but I had neither. However I did have Meccano (the proper metal stuff, not the girly plastic stuff they sell nowadays grumble humf).

So I built a simple buzzer from Meccano and an electromagnet (also home made by wrapping a wire round a bar of iron). Very simple but an interesting little circuit.

I connected my buzzer to my pressure pad and hey presto - the buzzer sounds when someone comes to the door and also when the obliging burglar stands on the front door mat. It lasted approximately 2 days before it broke, but for that short time I was a happy man.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 16:55, Reply)
I love Lego
...but my parents didn't have the cash to buy me the swanky Lego Technic car in those ads that had been taunting me daily for some months. You know, the one with the battery-powered motor and moving parts.

So I decided to make my own. The first challenge was to round up enough Technic bits and pieces as I could, in which I was aided by a fortuitously-timed cereal-packet giveaway: collect some tokens and get a few gears and axles, for the price of a stamp. After a few months of stuffing myself with double portions of Weetabix I had amassed four packets (and wonderfully regular bowel movements).

Combining the Technic parts with my own motley collection of classic Lego bits and bobs was a long and painstaking process, but the pièce de résistance was the integrated motor. This I salvaged from a cassette player, and -- aided by copious quantities of sticky tape -- mounted transversely to give the car its own motive power. An ingenious arrangement of adjustable cogs even gave the car a rudimentary gearbox.

The finished item was a work of art, although it did require a gigantic battery pack (again, held together with tape) which had to be held separately because it was too heavy for the motor to move under its own steam.

The only downside? The wrath of my sister, whose cherished cassette player had unfortunately had to be cannibalised to provide the electric motor. I don't think she ever really forgave me for that...
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 14:28, 1 reply)
How could I have forgotten this?
One of my brother's mates used to make burglar alarms and set up a little business installing them.

What's so special about that? Well, his were made from Lego.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 14:15, Reply)
Simple memory upgrade,,,,
I had an old Pentium 120 (years ago) and it needed a memory upgrade so it'd run Windows 95 properly.

I looked in to it and I needed memory. Not a lot, but some - nice and simple.

But, hang on - for an extra few quid, I could get a bigger disk - done. But, wait, a few more quid - a better motherboard. Well, if I'm getting a new board, I'll need a new processor. Hmm, I'll need different memory then.

Hang on, the new board doesn't fit in the case - I'll get a new case then.

So, from memory, I've now got a whole new PC...

I'm a desktop technician (well, I was then) so I know what I'm doing. Of course I do.

Everything's hooked up - connections checked. Power on. Nothing.


3 Days later I'm still scratching my head - I **will not** be defeated by this - I reseat everything and suddenly I have lights for pre-on.


Sit back, revel in my glory and press the on button.

***Fizz, piff, zzzzz***

Never good sounds really


Oh that's bad....

I realised, I think, that the power supply that I'd transplanted over from the old case was too powerful for the board and blew it up.

Along with ALL the new components.

So, a simple memory upgrade cost me about £800 as I ended up cutting my loss and buying a new PC for about £500 and writing off the rest of the £300.

(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 13:37, 6 replies)
Washing machines live longer with...
When I was thirteen I discovered that if I turned off the water mains under the sink I could use the crappy old Ariston washing machine in my mum’s kitchen without it filling with water. If I was in the house by myself I’d regularly set it to spin cycle so it vibrated like the Discovery entering orbit, then I’d get my cock out and angle my bell end into the open soap dispenser tray.

This technique enabled me to get my rocks off in about thirty seconds flat, safe in the knowledge that if my post-cum clean up operation wasn’t too precise my baby lotion would wash away the next time my mum did a load. Took about three months for the bastard to break down, then I reverted back to the lowtech vaseline smeared inside a toilet tube mastabatory solution.

And to this day I can’t walk past a Currys shop window without feeling ever so slightly aroused.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 13:15, 3 replies)
Tripods are for tarts...
Ever wondered how to get a close-up of a 200kmh Radio controlled Glider?

So did we.

Sellotape, an Ixus 55 and a fishing pole...

The plane: The Retox. Pressure-moulded carbon fibre, My own design, Machined aluminium moulds (I love my job), tail-less and faster than a greased whippet.

For camera solutions, see here.. Needs improvement mind you...


EDIT: I've also converted a wheelie-bin, a big 415V pump and a load of scrap electrical gubbins/scrap from work to make a fully automated watering system for our Veggie patch... 200 square meters of garden watered in 2 minutes at 100psi... turns on at 8:30 every night and waters fora couple of minutes, taking water from our rather large natural pond. But that shit's boring. Right? :)
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 12:44, 2 replies)
Oh my God...
...pooflake just reminded me in a reply to one of my answers!:

I am not very good at living in the UK. I just can't keep up with all the beaurocracy and the amount of letters through the door, the amount of people that need paying each month, the lies they tell about what they sent you etc...

So...I set about finding a document scanner - one that would be double sided and would simply scan everything in one hit.

I found one on ebay, but it was far too expensive (I should look again now, this was a few years ago now maybe they've come down in price), so I ended up using a standard flatbed scanner (and it still makes me laugh to say 'standard flatbed scanner' - my first scanner was a hand-held thing and that was over 200 quid at the time. The cheapest flatbed scanner I could find at the time was well over 1500 quid. Now they give them away free with every Mars bar purchased).

Anyway, when letters came through the door, with the exception of junk mail and personal letters, they would all get scanned into the computer. As they were scanned a screen would pop up and ask me what type of document it was - i.e. a bill, a reciept, a vehicle document etc... and then pop up a list of all the companies that I dealt with that fitted into that category.

It would also update the database with a link to the scanned file(s). Once a bill was paid, I could scan the reciept in and add it to the 'electronic folder' that had a copy of the bills in and it would link to it in the database, so I could easily see which bills had been paid and which had not.

Many times this helped me out of a spot - especially when the council were taking me to court for non-payment of council tax. All I had to do was bring up the dates they said I hadn't paid, click on the 'council' link and then bring up the bills and reciepts.

Sadly, because it was a flatbed scanner and took time to scan documents in this little project fell by the weighside.

I might ressurect this one if I can find a document scanner and another touchscreen - it was also a pain in the arse having to sit and scan everything and then point and click it into the right place. Touching a screen would have been much, much easier and quicker.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 11:53, 23 replies)
Packet of 3 gas permeable membranes please
I've been reminded by some of these posts of some research I did many years ago.
I was working with a University team who were developing rinky-dink gas sensors that were intended for eventual use on humans. Now we were using some technology that required a gas permeable membrane.
"It must be teflon" said the boss. "We can't get any for a fortnight " sez me.
I was pondering what to do when I had a brainwave. Before teflon, other people had used latex membranes.
Where do I get latex membranes on a university campus?
Answer: Students union bar. Gents toilets vending machine to be precise.
£2 later I was in posession of the required materials, however, the did need processing to remove the manufacturers additives, such as spermicidal lubricant. Well its water soluble, so I decided to wash it off. In the lab. Where 60 undergraduates were working. Try explaining that one. What was worse was the looks on some young ladies faces when I started cutting holes in them so they'd fit the mountings.

So yep durex has a medical use that can help save lives.

Length? Pretty standard, but if it was too long I had a pair of scissors handy!
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 11:52, 4 replies)
Making the hi-tech very, very low tech...
As many of you know, I am, rather terrifyingly (*), a scientist. Part of my job involves building and maintaining x-ray beamlines. As our beamlines are all designed for a specific experimental purpose, we often buy off the shelf x-ray generators, optics and flight tubes, but design the sample chambers, detectors and analysis software ourselves.

And we couldn’t do this without the help of one of the most useful pieces of lab technology known to man.

Blu-Tac. Helps us locate the sample in the sample chamber at differing depths.

Other surprisingly useful bits of kit involve a cook’s blow torch (good for preparing sealed glass capillaries), a hairdryer (for what we rather grandiosely call “thermal cycling”) and my favorite, my custom made polymer punch. This is for punching very small (about 250 micron) holes in slabs of polymer, to connect tubing into. It’s fashioned from a pin vice, a biopsy cutter (to cut the hole), the plunger from an old syringe (to push out the piece of cut polymer from the hole) and the spring from a clicky biro pen (to make to whole thing spring loaded and easy to use). I also have a selection of diamond drill bits I bought from a dental supplier, they're really really good for making very small holes in glass without cracking it.

Sometimes my job is ace.

(*) Seriously. I combine the dexterity of a stunned ox with a flagrant disregard for common sense and a generous side serving of utter stupidity. Realistically, I shouldn't really be allowed to use scissors without adult supervision.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 10:12, 10 replies)
By the skin of my teeth
Many years ago I had a gig right round the west side of the M25, so I stayed with my folks who live on the east side of that thoroughfare.

Driving home late at night I had to stop for petrol. The petrol cap was one that you had to open with the ignition key, which on this occaision decided to snap off in the lock. I had no spare.

Managed to pull the broken bit out and am there at a petrol station in the the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere wondering how the hell I am going to get home. The guy behind the counter and passing customers all tried to think of something, but to no avail,

Finally, in desperation, I selotaped the two halves of the key together and turned it - it worked!
I got all the way home with my selotaped key.

God knows what would have happened if I'd stalled.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 10:03, Reply)
The 3-Litre-3-Way Bong
Too many years ago, I was having a quiet Saturday afternoon at home, and left on my own, was becoming a bit jittery with the prospect of my own company and nothing to do. So, I set about upgrading the house bong into a new one.

Soft drinks companies had been putting out 3-litre plastic bottles for which to hold their fizzy-sticky-goodness. We had a number of these around for two purposes. The car radiator leaked, so we carried a few full of water for emergency top up. They also served well for impromptu piss stops on long car journeys AND then topping up the radiator - a smell I now have no wish to recreate.

Anyway, the 3 litre bottle was going to form the water chamber. To ensure that the chamber would remain up-upright. At some time previous, my mother bought me a brass kettle that stood on a brass tripod with a very wide circular top (wtf?). Anyway, discard one kettle, upturn kettle base, duct tape a 3 litre coke bottle between the upturned legs and we have business.

Next I needed a way of getting smoke into the water. Perfect for this was a car-hydraulic-brake-bleeding kit, that had masses of clear plastic pipe with a centre-hole about 6mm across. Inserted into one end was a metal pipe, fitted into the plastic pipe. The idea was that spliffs could be inserted directly into the metal bit, and a strategically placed empty tin of quality street would catch any fallout.

Next I needed some sort of inhalation method. This was sorted by making small holes in the coke bottle top, and feeding 3 brake cable outers (that I had planned to put on the vespa) into the holes.

The result was a centre piece in the middle of the room, that could be accessed from any chair in the house, by three people simultaneously, although it did require someone to constantly keep the business end well stoked.

Just as I had completed this marvel and was about to give it trial run, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door, and there was someone I'd never met.

He: Hello, you must be Piper, x's brother?
Me: Yes
He: I'm y, a mate of your brothers. I have a small pharmacy and a bucket of 20/20 with me
Me: Hello y, heard a lot about you. I have a 3 litre bong and a house full of herbal. Come on in.

And so started a lifelong friendship with one of the craziest dudes I know.

Length: Dunno, but easily a 5 foot radius.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 9:40, Reply)
Short attention span...
...I rarely get to finish anything before starting something else.

Just got back from holiday a week ago, and of course had the p inevitable mountain of letters with see-through address windows piled up on the inside of the door.

One of which (and not the last by all means) was an electric bill.

Apparently it's late being paid, so now I have to pay a penalty (we'll see about that) - which is not surprising due to being on holiday the day after it arrived. I suppose it's my own fault for thinking that I might have actually earned a couple of weeks off, anyway...I digress.

This got me thinking...there must be some other way of generating electricity which means I don't have to pay those bastards any more.

I have several motors laying around from a variety of unfinished projects, however, after taking apart an old flatbed scanner I found a nice little 4-phaze stepper motor.

After wiring that into my little breadboard with a resistor (I had no idea how much juice was going to be generated) and an LED, I set about spinning the little bugger up.

free image host

...and woohooo - free electric. According to my multimeter it seems to generate about 60 volts!!!

If I can regulate it down to 5v and consistently, then I recon at the very least I won't have to pay those scumbags to charge up USB devices, mobile phones, mp3 players etc... at the very least.

All I need now is some way to clamp my wind blades to it (Which I shall make tonight) and I have at least made a start on the path to free electric.

It helps that we live by the sea and that it's always windy.

With any luck I'll have this finished by tomorrow so I can upload a better (more finished) picture of it in action.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 8:08, 11 replies)
Ok right,
When I was 3, I used to play on my brother's ZX Spectrum.
Only thing was it was a bit shit and you had to hold the cassette drive closed a particular way to make it load properly.

Anyway, eventually, we figured out that Mum's wooden spatula that she used to beat us with would work rather well at keeping the drive closed in just the right way if we jammed it in right, so we nicked it from her.

Two birds - one stone. No more beatings and a working Spectrum - happy days!
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 3:37, 3 replies)
magnetic personality
So who’s not inspired by dchurch this week? Enjoying his posts reminded me of some other mischief. I use the self scan tills at tesco. They are handy and infuriating in equal measures, I have lost the rag with 'item does not scan' or however they word it more than a few times. However they do have some perks - a ten quid jar of black truffles popped on top of a bag of spuds fools the scales every time - similarly I find all my mangos and avocados cost the same as baked potatoes these days. Deftly chucking an item on the belt after it has been 'cleared' after repeated failed scans by the nice checkout lady often results in having that item for free. This works particularly well if you are a regular, spend a lot, and know a lot of the checkout bints on chatting/distracting terms.

Anyway one day I get home to find my new copy of Batman Begins still has the RFID tag inside. in case you dont know what that is

A few weeks later my missus returns home from tescos - "sorry I'm late spimf, I had to go through all my shopping to find what was setting the alarms off, this happens every bloody time these days, I think I must be really magnetic or something"

Silently I unzipped the front of her handbag and removed the RFID strip I had placed there weeks before.

Bloody women - no sense of humour.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 1:14, 1 reply)
I can't do DIY
The only teccy DIY I ever did was when I tried to fix my scanner cable - it was a bit sloppy so I bit it to try and squeeze the hole smaller (never a good thing really) - bzzzttt bzzzt!! my fillings melted and I still can't remember my name....

Hello B3ta...its been a while :D :D
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 0:51, 3 replies)
Secret Agent Ipod headphones
A short while ago, I was boredly sitting around, when I chanced upon a gift from ancient childhood - it was every 11 year old boy's dream: Secret Agent Listening Device. My mind wandered to what actually was behind the brightly coloured plastic casing (purple and spherical in the case of the receiver, and oblong and elongated for the receiver), and I set to work on the familiar task of bashing something up until I can see its insides*.

It turned out it was merely a one-way walky-talky, with absolutely simplistic electronics. Next step: wireless ipod headphones!

Here is a lovely picture:
(note the exemplary use of blue tac. There is no proper case for them yet, and the sound is a bit crackly. I snipped the jack off a pair of old headphones)

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* Nothing is safe from me in this regard - as soon as I saw this QOTW, I grabbed the nearest dead hard drive (several small furry docile ones live in my bedroom, but sometimes I kick them and they die) and set about turning its platter into a coaster.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 0:26, 1 reply)
Shameless repost of an electrocution incident.... That's not relevant now I reread this....
I needed to remove some cable tacks that were holding the phone wire back - No big deal - They had to come off, the wall painted and new ones put it. It's not rocket science dammit.

Anyway, I proceeded to remove them.

Now, directly below one of them (about halfway up the wall) is a socket.

You might see where this is going....

I touched the one above the socket - the metal bit.

"Bastard, that hurt"

That's right, some moron (not me) had put it through the live wire - how it hadn't shorted out the house, I don't know.

"Well, that's just daft." Thought I - "There's a lesson here"

"I'd better turn off the electricity and carefully remove the cable tack" - Is what I SHOULD have thought/done.

What I did think was "Did that really happen? I'd better touch it again"

"OUCH!" (Followed by much swearing).

That really bastard hurt. I know, I'll touch it again.

"F***, etc"

Yes, that's right I touched it twice, then held on a bit the third time just to check for actual pain. Of which there was a lot.

I was going to get off the ladder, but I realised that I was actually now lying on the ground - "Now, how did I get down here?".....

I turned the mains off at this point and was a LOT more careful the 4th time.


The lesson is - I'm shouldn't be allowed out of that padded room....
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 23:03, 5 replies)

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