Altoids upstaged by gift card tins

Nothing Earth-shattering here. Just, dare we say it, really cute!

The venerable Altoids mint tin has become an icon of the maker culture. Browsing through past articles on Hack a Day, Adafruit or Instructables, you’ll find project after project for which these pocket-sized enclosures provided just the right fit. Eminently practical, affordable, but the aesthetics have occasionally left something to be desired.

We recently stumbled upon these nifty gift card holders that resemble miniature versions of current-generation game consoles. They might be the perfect housing for your next microcontroller project…

These were acquired from our local GameStop retail store and unfortunately do not appear to be available online. Each will set you back $2.99 — about a buck more than the mints, and without the added benefit of fresh breath. Such is the price of style.

The shapes are varied, but all are a bit larger than the traditional Altoids tin, allowing ample space for a battery pack, breadboard or microcontroller setup. As with the mint tins, of course you’ll want to insulate your project from the interior metal surface. A bit of contact paper or even some index cards are usually sufficient.

In addition to the Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3 tins depicted here, portable consoles — the PSP and Nintendo DS Lite — are also available in miniature form.


  1. Luckless says:

    Oh me oh my

  2. woah says:

    That’s some clever viral marketing here on hackaday

  3. Graybeard says:

    I’ve discovered baby wipe plastic containers work well for larger projects.

  4. Haku says:

    There is (was?) a PS2 version version too:

    Can’t seem to find any of those to buy online :(

  5. HackerK says:

    Looks very nice. but the XBOX360 seems upside down for the ‘face plate’ ;)

  6. Tom says:

    Does anyone know if there is availability in the UK?

  7. Paul Potter says:

    Pure brilliance. And yes, cute is valid.

    Yes, when here in the UK?

  8. Phil Burgess says:

    @Haku: awesome link, thanks! Some very clear shots there showing all the different styles.

    @HackerK: my bad! I hadn’t noticed the mistake when the photo was taken…but don’t fret, the face plate on the 360 will snap on in either direction.

    How long do you figure before Ben Heckendorn actually manages to cram a working console inside one of these? :)

  9. soopergooman says:

    I was gonna hack up a psp and shove it into the ps3 one. But I never got around to it.Hmmmm rekindles the idea in my head.

  10. Phil says:

    How is this named I want to buy it in Austria or Germany.

  11. Hmmmm…looks like I need to update my Altoids web page []

  12. Boss says:

    Its pretty sad that you just discovered these considering they have been on the counter beside the cash at every gamestop and ebgames across north america for 3 years… maybe this is a case of needing to get out more

  13. strider_mt2k says:

    Boss, maybe you just need to spend less time in gamestop.

    Not everyone is a regular at the video game store.

  14. mick says:

    iv been using the ps3 to keep my weed in for a few years now. its a great tin, and the bottom flat part pops off too

  15. mowcius says:

    I haven’t seen these before. Probably because UK games stores are boring and un-imaginitive.

    Where can we get them in the UK? I need some!

  16. Haku says:

    Yes, can someone gather up some from GameStop stores and drop em on eBay? with international postage. UKer here too and I’ve been trying to find some online but can only find pictures of them along with mention of GameStop – suprised there aren’t any Chinese sources for them or similar ones.

  17. yuppicide says:

    If I gather some up and put them on eBay, I’d be trying to advertise them in a way that they look like real systems, but if people don’t read the fine print and see they’re little tins they’re screwed.

  18. Raisin says:

    Hi guys,
    can someone please name the circuits inside? I know the PS3 has an arduino, but the red with the rocker switch and audio socket seems like an MP3 player, the other with the USB host connestor is also interesting. Thanks a bunch!

  19. Phil says:

    @mick would be a good idea for weed. Hope i can buy it somewhere.

  20. gman says:

    I wish a beagleboard would fit in one of these. I wonder If they make these in slightly larger cases.

  21. Jeff Wallin says:

    Is there a dreamcast one?

  22. MrWafflesMonster says:

    Damn, I don’t think I can get these shipped to New Zealand, my portable USB charger beggs me to house it inside one :(
    Does anyone know a retailer who does international shipping?

  23. Phil Burgess says:

    @Raisin: the red board is a SparkFun Electronics MP3 Trigger, while the one with USB host is a Microchip PIC32 USB Starter Board.

    @strider_mt2k: I really appreciate your sticking up for me…but no, Boss is totally right, I’m a troglodyte and don’t get out much. Kidding! Just not much of a gamer, might set foot in a GameStop once a year or so, and somehow the tins previously evaded my notice or I just failed to make the connection that these would make awesome project boxes.

  24. I picked up a few of the 360 ones a year or two back to use as an enclosure… never got around to actually putting anything in it though.

  25. Leigh says:

    Altoids tins, and before them, Sucrets tins, have a very long history for home-brew projects. N5ESE’s site is particularly well organized, but he didn’t start the idea:

    There was a 1967 “Sucrets” box project with tubes, transitors to build a transmitter (Wee Mitter) and receiver (Wee Ceiver), and I’d be surprised if hams weren’t building things with the tins before that.

  26. Eric says:

    @ Phil Burgess
    “How long do you figure before Ben Heckendorn actually manages to cram a working console inside one of these? :)”

    Well… considering how long it took to shrink the Atari 2600 into the Atari flashback… sometime in the next century.

    Then again, the original fat ps2’s had ps1-on-a-chip, so you never know :-)

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