Top 10 DIY Projects That Cost Less Than $3

Why pay loads of money for something when you can make it yourself for cents on the dollar? Here are some of our favourite life hacking DIY projects that’ll run you less than the cost of a latte.

Image remixed from grmarc (Shutterstock).


10. Keep Thieves At Bay With A Motion-Activated Burglar Alarm

Cost: $US2
You can do a lot of things to keep your expensive gadgets and other possessions safe from theft, but sometimes a simple alarm is all you need. This DIY motion alarm will let you know when a nearby theif is trying to grab your bike, your backpack, or whatever else you’ve set down for a moment, and all it takes is a little electronics hacking — and maybe a trip to the dollar store.

9. Rock Out Comfortably With A Pair Of Noise-Isolating Earbuds

Cost: $US1
Earbuds are great for travel, but a lot of them are horrible at staying in your ear. Without that seal, you’ll never get the best sound, and you’ll always be fiddling to get them to stay in. Instead of doing that, you can grab a pair of basic foam earplugs — which cost less than a dollar — and use them to turn your earbuds into a much more comfortable, noise-isolating set. Of course, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you could always make your own custom-molded pair, too.

8. Watch Videos On Your Wall With A Smartphone Projector

Cost: $US1
Gathering around your smartphone to watch funny videos is no fun, so why not project that video onto your wall? All you need is a shoebox, a magnifying glass, and a few LEGO bricks — mostly stuff you already have lying around. It isn’t going to give you theatre-quality picture, but for showing off your new favourite cat video, it’ll certainly do more than fine. Of course, the $US1 price tag assumes you already have a smartphone to use it with — otherwise it’s a $US201 smartphone projector.

7. Control Your Camera From Afar With A Remote Shutter

Cost: $US3
If you want to take pictures from afar, take a self-portrait, or just snap a few shots without shaking your camera, a remote control can be invaluable. But you don’t need to go shell out for a pre-made one. In fact, for about $US3, you can buy an old hands-free headset for mobile phones and turn it into a shutter trigger for nearly any digital camera.

However, if you want to do it wirelessly, you can create an infrared trigger for about $US2, as seen in the video to the right. However, you’ll need a $US5 iPhone app to control it (or an infrared remote, if you have one). Check out our guide to remote controlling your digital camera for more ideas.

6. Protect Your Phone’s Screen With A Scratch-Resistant Protector

Cost: $US0.05
While most people don’t think screen protectors are necessary anymore, even damage-resistant screens can get scratched — particularly by that sand floating around in your pocket. If you want to keep your screen protected (which is a good idea if you plan on re-selling it), you can make your own vinyl screen protector for less than $US0.05. You just need to cut it to fit the shape of your screen and stick it on for scratch-free protection.

5. Prop Up Your Laptop, Smartphone, Or Tablet

Cost: $US1-$US3
Whether you’re watching movies on your smartphone, using your tablet in the kitchen, or just trying to keep your laptop from overheating, a little DIY stand can go a long way. We’ve featured countless models over the years, but if you only have a few bucks to spend, we recommend checking out the $1 smartphone plate stand, the $US3 tablet wall mount and the cardboard laptop stand. Some may be a bit jankier than others, but between these choices you should be able to find something that suits your needs.

4. Add A Microphone And Remote To Any Pair Of Headphones

Cost: $US2
So you’ve finally decided to ditch Apple’s crappy earbuds and find the perfect pair of headphones, but you miss the ability to make phone calls and control your music. Luckily, there’s a DIY solution: with some cheap parts and a bit of soldering, you can put together your own remote adapter that works with any pair of headphones. Of course, if you’re willing to cut up your old remote-enabled headphones, you can do it just as cheaply with a bit of simple splicing.

3. Mount Your Smartphone In Your Car

Cost: $US1
Nobody wants to go buy a $US50 car mount for their phone, especially when it’ll be obsolete as soon as you upgrade. Instead, you can turn a binder clip into a cheap, effective, universal car mount for any smartphone or GPS device. All you need is a binder clip, some pliers, a rubber band, and some string. If you want to make it even better, we recommend using a hair tie in place of the rubber band, and an old USB cable in place of the string. And, to see more $US1 DIY miracles, check out our top 10 binder clip projects.

2. Charge All Your Devices In One Place

Cost: $US1-$US3
You probably have more than one gadget to charge during the day, and a DIY charging station is a great way to organise them. From the dirt cheap outlet-mounted charging station to a DIY IKEA charging box, you’ve no shortage of ways to get it done for cheap. This more attractive station comes with a $US6 price tag, but could probably be easily done for less considering the bowl is only a dollar.

1. Extend Your Wi-Fi’s Range

Cost: $US1-$3
Wi-Fi signal got you down? We’ve shared many ways to boost it, but one of the cheapest ways is just to beef up that antenna. You can do it with an aluminium can pretty easily, or with a bit more effort, you could cut out a aluminium foil parabola as seen in the video to the right.


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