Our Lifehacker 2010 Christmas gift guide already includes some DIY options (as well as lots of ideas for the time-pressed and/or lazy). Here's some more complicated ideas for DIY tech gifts.
Photo by mmolek
Floppy Disk USB Flash Drive
Nobody's harder to shop for than the retro geek and thumb drive enthusiast, but with a Floppy Disk USB Flash Drive you've got both of their primary interests covered. No longer will they have to choose between living in the future and living in the past. If their thumb drive is a 3.5" "floppy" disk they'll be rocking it both old and new school this holiday season. Both cheap and easy to make, this is a DIY stocking stuff that'll never get old—because, in some ways, it already has. (You know, because it looks like a floppy disk.)
A Wooden External Hard Drive
If you're a Lifehacker reader you know the importance of file backup, but the average person fails to appreciate the insurance policy of a backup hard drive. When asked why they don't bother, it's rarely the inconvenience of it all, but how inorganic the process feels. How many times have you heard your sister say, "I'd back up my files, but hard drives look so unfriendly and cold that I just don't want to go near it." You can solve this common problem with a DIY wooden hard drive enclosure. Everyone loves trees (especially dead ones), so why wouldn't they love the idea of backing up their files to a piece of one? A wooden hard drive brings the warmth of mother nature to file storage. If you're feeling especially resourceful, you can always use part of your Christmas tree. Either way, your sister will thank you.
Wireless Salad Bowl Speakers
It's long been known that salad isn't actually food, yet despite this discovery the manufacturing of salad bowls continues at a breakneck pace. What can we do with all these salad bowls? Aside from fashionable hats, they make excellent speaker enclosures. This DIY wireless salad bowl speaker gift is perfect for the music aficionado who prefers the acoustics of the great outdoors or just can't settle on any specific location. Give him or her a gift that keeps on receiving hours upon hours of great tunes within range of the transmitter and put some of those overproduced salad bowls to good use.
Pogoplug Web Server
For that special systems administrator in your life comes a DIY project that will delight his or her heart for years to come: a Pogoplug you turn into a Linux-based web server. It's diminutive size and low power consumption makes this DIY gift ready to serve up complex web applications from any small space. It can bring a new purpose to that unused space behind the toilet or pretend it's yet another set top box in your media cabinet. It makes for a great testing server for the recipient's latest PHP project or a server that transmits live images of their cats. The possibilities are endless with a web server the size of a moderately thick corned beef sandwich, and you can make it all happen for under $US50.
NES DVD Player
For the special person in your life who's lost in a bout of Nintendo-induced nostalgia comes a DVD player that even the most hardened, Goomba-stomping plumber couldn't help but love. The outer shell consists of a traditional Nintendo Entertainment System, but the innards are all DVD player all the time. With this DIY gift, the wonder of film the world over can now be enjoyed inside the shell of a classic gaming system. And now that they won't have to blow on old malfunctioning game cartridges, they can concentrate on blowing on more important things—like a breathalyser, because they'll be drunk on happiness.
Do you have a friend or family member in mind who's not a Mac or PC, but some freakish combination of both? If so, they're a perfect candidate for a homemade Hackintosh of the desktop or netbook variety. Nothing is more pleasing than watching as their face turns to shock and excitement the moment they boot their new "PC" into "Mac OS X." Introduce them to the wonderful world of cheaper hardware, compatibility issues, and weekly kernel panics. But those exciting benefits aside, nothing truly beats the wonder of a Mac in PC's clothing. A Hackintosh may come with its share of problems, but it'll be the coolest computer on the block.
The Keyboard PC
The end of humanity won't come from Skynet and Terminators. Instead, we will all be destroyed when keyboards become self-aware. Get in the good graces of keyboards everywhere by bringing them one step closer to sentience: turn them into a computer. If you've got an old laptop and a little know-how, it's high time you've created a portable keyboard computer. There's no friend in the world who wouldn't love a computer shoved into the tiny space, and you'll be doing yourself a favour by getting on the good side of our future overlords when the inevitable keyboard uprising subdues the human race.