Sweet Hacks

While talking about a solar powered portable Bluetooth speaker project on the podcast, I realized that I have a new category of favorite hacks: daily-use hacks.

If you read Hackaday long enough, you’ll start to categorize everything. There are the purely technical hacks, beautiful hacks, minimalist hacks, maximalist hacks, and then the straight-up oddball hacks. Sometimes what strikes us is the beauty of the execution. Sometimes it’s clever choice of parts that were designed to do exactly the right thing, and simply watching them do their job well is satisfying, and other times we like to see parts fooled into doing something they have no right to.

While I really like the above speaker build because it’s beautiful, and because it uses a clever choice of audio amplifier to work with the supercapacitors’ wild voltage swings, what really struck me about the project is that [Jamie Matthews] has been using it every day for the last nine months. It’s on his desk and he uses it to listen to music.

That’s a simple feat in a way, but it’s a powerful one. Some of my absolutely favorite projects of my own are similar – they are ones that I use all the time. Not the cliche “life hack”, which are usually like a clever way to peel a grapefruit, but rather hacks that become part of daily life. So look around you, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find a number of these “daily driver” hacks. And if you do, celebrate them.

(And maybe even send ’em in to the tips line to share!)

6 thoughts on “Sweet Hacks

  1. We have a number of Bluetooth devices in our house, most of them sit around slowly discharging their batteries. An exception would be the Bluetooth keyboards that are “attached” to iPads. Oh, and my daughter’s ear pods (when she hasn’t misplaced them).

  2. Really thinking about it having a tidy organized workplace is the best daily hack. I have a way-more-than-full-time job (and life, probably like most here) so on the off chance I can go wrench on something it’s nice to not spend the first 15 minutes of my 20 minute free time cleaning off the bench or finding the whatever it is.
    Problem with tidy organized space is that “others” see it as a dumping ground for all their stuff and the system devolves into chaos quickly.

  3. I have cobbled together a raspberry pi 1 with MPD, LIRC, an IR sensor and the ugliest collection of Bash shell scripts to play internet radio and music from my NAS. It also uses a 230V-switched relay on the switched output of the amplifier to detect whether it is on or not. And with that knowledge, switch on a yellow LED (via software! Hardware would’ve been way easier!) so I can see if the amplifier is on or standby. The amp’s own status LED’s level doesn’t differentiate enough.

    Has been running like this for I think 8+ years. I have recently (last year!) upgraded to a RPi 4 (it now does kodi) but the RPi 1 is still attached… just to power the yellow LED.

  4. My wife is mostly bedridden; she’s got her entertainment and suchlike on her computer, her phone, and her Switch. Sometimes she wants the audio of these through her external speakers, sometimes through headphones, depending on circumstances. But plugging and unplugging headphones and speakers all the time is a hassle and can damage the jacks; we’ve wrecked more than one laptop motherboard that way over the years. For a long while she had one or another those mechanical speaker/headphone switches, but when the last one wore out, she explained that what she really needed was a mixer with the switch: being able to have all the audio into the same headphones to, say, listen to an audiobook while gaming.

    So I found a little 4-input stereo mixer — four inputs with volume pots and one output, all as 3.5mm jacks — on AliExpress; it came either in a little case or as an unhoused PCB, and I got the latter. I then removed the output jack. In its place I put in a little perfboard riser with a DPDT toggle switch and two stereo jacks, so flipping the switch moved the output between the two jacks. The whole thing is wrapped in a heat-bent styrene enclosure sort of like a triangular burrito, which let me put labels onbut essentially she can listen to up to four things at a time either through headphones or her speakers without plugging or unplugging anything. She’s been pretty happy with it for a few years now, so I count it as one of my better hacks.

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