No gadget lasts forever, but that doesn't mean you can't turn it into something else and give your new tech an old school feel. Here are 10 awesome projects for bringing your retro gadgets into the future.
Photo remixed from Kinetic Imagery.
10. Hack An Old Mouse Into A Bluetooth Mouse
They may not be the most ergonomic designs, but there's a certain spiritual comfort that comes from using the mouse that came with your very first computer. If you still have a classic mouse lying around, you can turn it into a working Bluetooth mouse just by swapping in the guts from another, more modern mouse. If your old mouse is just too uncomfortable for daily computer use, you could turn it into a remote camera shutter, ideal for that camera you have upgraded with CHDK.
9. Turn A Classic Nintendo Into A DVD Player
While we don't advocate tearing apart a working NES, many of us are still hanging onto systems far beyond repair. If that sounds like you, give that console some new life by turning it into a retro DVD player. All you really need to do is take the circuitry out of a DVD player and put it in the NES case, though you may have to modify the case a bit first. Alternatively, you could just build your own computer inside the NES case and turn it into an awesome home theatre PC — one that can still play NES games!
8. Convert A Retired Game Controller To USB
So you've torn apart your beloved NES, but what about the controllers? You can easily turn those into USB gamepads for use with any PC. Heck, if you're really adventurous, you could even hack a flash drive into the controller too, and store your favourite video games on it, so you can play those games no matter what computer you're sitting in front of.
7. Turn Your Outdated VCR Into A Heavy-Duty Scroll Wheel
If you do a lot of scrolling but don't want to keep your hand on your mouse, the spinning head of a VCR can actually make a pretty awesome scroll wheel. You'll get some great momentum-based scrolling for scrolling through long pages of code, comic books or anything else — not unlike the microform readers you can find at the library. The rest of the VCR? You can use its timer to make a retro-looking cat feeder. That is, if you can get it to stop blinking 12:00.
6. Turn Your Old TV Into An Information Terminal
Chances are you've upgraded all your household TVs to well-calibrated HDTVs, and the old CRTs aren't getting any love. You can give that old TV new life by turning it into a YBOX, a DIY information display that shows information such as the weather. Alternatively, you could turn it into a cool retro picture frame for your living room.
5. Turn An Old TV Or PC Into An Aquarium
From the "unbelievably silly but really impressive" files: If you have an old TV, computer, or other piece of tech with a lot of room inside, you can turn it into a sizable aquarium. The TV project is a good deal more dangerous, and probably more difficult to pull off, but any old PC can make an aquarium without too much work — all you really need is the case (as the video to the right shows). Just be sure to get all the electronics out of there before you put in the water. You don't want to electrocute yourself or your fishy friends.
4. Turn Your Collection of Floppy Disks Into...Anything
Due to their size and shape, old floppy disks are great for all sorts of DIY projects, from pen holders (pictured right) to furniture stabilisers. If you want to keep the spirit of your floppies alive by turning them into storage, you can put a USB drive inside a floppy. Or, you can just make music with all your leftover floppy drives and call it a (very weird) day.
3. Turn A Rotary Phone Into A VOIP Handset
A lot of us have ditched our landlines for mobile phones, but if you find it hard to say goodbye to an ageing rotary phone, you can turn it into a pretty cool headset for your computer, for use with Skype or any other VOIP solution.
2. Turn A 1950s Radio into A Portable Stereo
If you want the retro look of your old radio without the poor sound quality, you can gut it and turn it into a modern stereo worthy of any iPod or other digital MP3 player. It may be more work than just buying a regular iPod dock, but you're certain to have the best-looking portable stereo on the block. You could also try this slightly simpler method that takes advantage of the existing speaker.
1. Digitise Your Old Records And Tapes
If you've finally given up on the ultimate, vinyl-focused audio setup (maybe you just don't have the space), it's time to start ripping all those old records to digital files. Make sure your records are clean first, either with a DIY cleaning block or simple wood glue, then rip them and clean them up with Audacity. You can do the same with cassettes, too. Got some records that aren't playable anymore? You can honour their memory by turning them into a clock, or a nifty side table.
Are these the most practical projects? Not always, but if you're feeling nostalgic, they'll certainly hit the spot. Just don't take apart anything you might want back in the future!