Some people call it their battlestation; others call it their command centre. In honour of Evil Week, we’re going to call your home office setup your secret lair. Here are some of the best DIY projects and gear you can use to keep it safe, secure and stocked for whatever nefarious plan you may cook up next.
Set Up A Surveillance System
Most of us own laptops with built-in webcams or have USB cameras attached to our computers. They’re great for talking to friends via Skype or Google Hangouts, but they’re also useful for keeping tabs on your computer or on your entire secret lair when you’re not around. We’ve shown you how to turn your webcam into a surveillance station before, creating a system that will turn on when it detects motion and stream video to your smartphone without the person in the room realising it. All you need is to set up some software (in our guide we used iCam and WebcamXP) and you’re ready to go.
If you prefer an on-demand, completely free alternative, you can do the same thing using Google Hangouts, or with Apple’s FaceTime. The beauty of all of these methods is that you can keep tabs on your lair itself, mount a webcam in the corner of your room to make sure no one’s there when you’re not, or put one in a window to keep an eye on your property. Check in anytime, from anywhere.
Set Up Exterior Security Measures
Once you’ve set up surveillance, you’ll want to add some additional security to cover the places you can’t stick a camera. One option this Arduino-based motion sensor that texts you whenever it’s tripped is a good addition to your secret lair. Alternatively, you could build a remote tripwire alarm (as seen in the video above), or use a DIY pressure plate to tell if someone’s walking around where they shouldn’t be. If you need to protect something specific, you can turn this tag into a motion-sensitive alarm for your valuables. Oh, and don’t forget to secure the door! Preferably in a manner that’s not easily hacked, quickly picked, or broken into. Consider something tricky to get into, like this DIY passcode door lock.
If you need a bird’s eye view of your lair, or you just want aerial superiority, why not get your own drone? You could go out and spend hundreds on a Parrot AR Drone, but building one can be fun too. This Instructables project has instructions and part designs, all of which can be 3D printed. There’s even a DIYDrones subreddit, and DIYDrones.com is the definitive resource for amateur drone-building of all types, from aerial drones to ground rovers.
Encrypt Your Files And Set Them To Self-Destruct
You certainly don’t have to encrypt all of your files, but if you have a folder labelled “world domination plan” or a file on your hard drive called “The List,” you may want to keep those secure and away from prying eyes. We’ve shown you some cloud storage services that take privacy seriously if you’re looking for a safe place to get your files offsite, and even how to add encryption to Dropbox if that’s your cloud storage service of choice.
If you’d rather keep your files local, download TrueCrypt or GNUPG and encrypt them on your own. You can even go the nuclear route and enable whole-disk encryption by turning on FileVault in OS X or BitLocker in Windows (if available’ it isn’t in the home version). If you’re using Linux, full-disk encryption is also rolled into the OS, although it goes by different names. TrueCrypt can even be configured to show different files based on different passwords, and another tool, DriveCrypt, can be configured to auto-wipe your data if it’s being brute-force attacked or the wrong password is entered too many times.
If you really can’t risk those files getting into anyone else’s hands, consider encrypting your entire system and setting up a decoy OS for anyone else who tries to use it. Even more extreme measures include a self-destructing SSD that erases your data at the flip of a switch, or a thermite self-destruct system that destroys the hard drive before it can fall into enemy hands. (Seriously — do not do this. We’re mentioning it for fun and so you can see the videos. It is extremely dangerous, and thermite should only be handled by professionals.)
Prepare For Emergencies
Your secret lair is more than just your nerve centre, it’s the place you go in case of an emergency. Keep a few items on-hand to fix your broken gear or hunker down if you have to. Also, consider a lockbox or small fireproof safe for your important documents. Finally, you don’t have to stock your lair like a panic room (although that would be cool), but definitely keep some power and supplies on hand in case of an emergency. We’ve shown you all types of kits for varying needs.
Once you have your space under surveillance, your data safe and locked down, and you’re ready to ward off intruders, your evil lair will be complete. You can retreat into it at any time, and if there’s an emergency you know you’ll be able to shelter in place with all the equipment you need to survive, or get out quickly with your important files intact. A few simple upgrades to your workspace — we mean evil lair — will transform your plain old desk into your personal world domination headquarters, one befitting the modern, busy, brilliant evil mastermind.
This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.