Roundup: Simple Hacks


Here’s a collection of simple hacks you can do in between larger projects. After the break we’ll look at converting an iPod from hard drive storage to Compact Flash, build an LED desk lamp using LEGO and USB power for charging, and use an Arduino shield to add network control at the touch of a button.

iPod HDD to CF Conversion


[Richard] tipped us off about converting an iPod from a hard drive to a Compact Flash card. We actually did this a few years ago. Because we frequently buy broken electronics we had an old iPod 20GB with a broken HDD. Knowing we had seen one wire-porn type diy adapter and reported on another, a quick search produced a ready-made solution.

[Richard] went the same route by purchasing a CF to 1.8″ IDE adapter and a 32GB Compact Flash card. Just crack open your iPod, unplug the broken HDD, plug in the adapter and CF card, close the case, and go through a normal iPod recovery cycle.Compact Flash is considerably cheaper than solid state hard drives which makes this a cheaper conversion than a comparable Zune upgrade.

There you have it, what once was broken is now whole.



[chAos] put together a desk lamp with parts he had on hand. A broken Bluetooth headset was used for the switch, battery, and USB charging capabilities. From there he built an articulated arm and body out of LEGO. The final step to provide illumination was just a matter of wiring up a white LED. This isn’t the most beautiful LED lamp build, but it gets the job done and adds a little “I built this” pride to your desk.

Mute button connected via the network


[Justin] needed a mute button for some speakers at the other end of the room. The music was played by a Mac mini so he built a mute button that sends commands over a network. By using an Ethernet shield for an Arduino he’s able to detect a button press and send commands over an XML-RPC server to get some peace and quite around here. The device gets its electricity by using power over Ethernet. The Ethernet shield is one of our favorite add-ons, taking on the brunt of the work in getting connected.

Don’t be afraid to send in hacks of all difficulty levels. If you’ve got one that’s a bit simpler, we may feature it as part of a group.

15 thoughts on “Roundup: Simple Hacks

  1. so, lemme get this straight. to control a computer across the room, someone used a $35 arduino, plus ethernet shield (however much that costs)? instead of, you know, a $5 micro, some discreet parts, and a protoboard? IT’S A DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM. gawd.

    also, kickin’ lamp.

  2. A word of warning. If you’re putting a CF card in a 3rd generation iPod you have to do some hex editing on the firmware or it will be stuck in an endless boot loop.

    I’ll find my reference material on it and post it later.

  3. @St.Jimmy

    Yea but it’s an Arduino :P Anyway, it’s still cheaper than a Logitech Harmony. But it seem like a hell of a lot of setup for a mute button and there were other simpler ways of doing it.

  4. Why are all the PCB’s being referred to as shields now?
    Last I checked, they don’t shield anything, rather they accept any interference that they come is contact with, damaging or not.

  5. Huh, goes to show, its not just me then. When I first saw reference it was in relation to either a wifi or rfid shield and I thought it meant shielding from those signals…then I realised it was arduino speak.

    Loving the overkill on the mute button. Can anyone remember the film Big with Tom Hanks and the sock ball switch? What did he throw that at was it an arcade machine or a vending machine?

  6. I have done dozens of those iPod mods. One thing to keep in mind is that you should really do some research on the CF card you buy before you buy it. There are lots of CF cards that for some reason or another will not work. If you get one that wont work, don’t loose heart. It may work in an iPod mini, just not with the Adapters. I have a 32GB Mini because of this. :-)

    He tossed it at a Pepsi machine in his apartment.

  7. I’m wondering where Justin got the case for that mute button. The problem is that his writeup doesn’t leave me any way to contact him to ask the question. If that wasn’t enough, comments on his writeup are closed.

    Seriously – if you’re going to do the writeup, PLEASE give us some way to ask you some questions!

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