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Upcycle your gadgets

Got an older device that’s just gathering dust? Find a good use for it—turn your old CPU into a mailbox or convert your phone into an MP3 player
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First Published: Tue, Jul 09 2013. 07 10 PM IST
Retrofit your old cassette inta a visiting card holder. Photo: Courtesy Instructables.com
Retrofit your old cassette inta a visiting card holder. Photo: Courtesy Instructables.com
Updated: Tue, Jul 09 2013. 07 12 PM IST
From old phones and laptops to digital cameras, electronic toys or other stuff, e-junk is swamping households today. Sell it off and it’s possible someone might be able to find traces of your old data. Throw it in the trash and you’re doing some serious harm to the environment. The right thing to do is to upcycle your e-waste.
We found nine do-it-yourself projects that can give your old gadgets purpose again.
Tablet = Digital photo frame
There’s no need to buy yet another photo frame. Use that cheap Android tablet you bought on a whim. Stuff the entire collection of your photographs from holidays and family get-togethers on to the tablet. Download the app Social Frame HD (Slideshow), install it, choose the folders you want to stream and select the slide-show mode. The app animates the pictures and if you are a social network hog, even lets you stream your Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and 500 pixel photos. Since it’s in wallpaper mode, the app will keep your tablet up and running.
Social Frame HD (Slideshow) is available for free on Google Play and runs on Android 3.0 and higher versions.
Phone = MP3 player
Save space on your swanky new smartphone by turning your old one into a dedicated MP3 player. Delete all the extraneous apps that require a data connection or take up space in your old phone. Stripping the phone bare will improve its performance and make the battery last longer. If your smartphone has a slot, boost its storage with an SD card. Now transfer your music into it and install MixZing Music Player. The app offers a lock-screen widget to control the player while the phone is locked, making it work like a music player. Additionally, it also creates tags for music, offers you a graphic equalizer and automatically downloads missing album art.
MixZing Music Player is available for free on Google Play.
Old laptop = NAS home server
With so many gadgets around the house, you definitely need a home server to run them all in sync. Your old laptop can be used to create a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) server. Install FreeNAS on your laptop as either an embedded install or on the entire disk. The server connects through your router to other devices like tablets, smart TVs, gaming consoles and phones. Once done, you have a personal home network to back up and store files, stream and share all your digital content over different devices as well as a Web server where you can host your own websites. You can also turn your laptop into a Bit Torrent downloading machine.
FreeNas is free and compatible with Windows, Mac and Unix machines.
Toy soldier = Quirky bookend
Your child has outgrown his little gadgety toys and the robots, soldiers and dolls lie rusting in a box. Take a tip from Scott Bedford, who runs the website WhatIMade.com, and turn an old toy into a quirky bookend. Though he has made it with a soldier (and named it a “War and Peace” bookend), you can use any unused toy (robot, Barbie, soldier, car) to recreate the idea. Lay the toy flat on the floor and use a hacksaw to remove the width of the wooden shelf from the midsection of the toy. Once you have two parts of the toy, you can either just superglue them on the bookshelf (one on top and one below on the ceiling) or drill a screw in the middle of the shelf and screw the toy securely on both ends.
Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Macintosh desktop = iPad dock
If you still have an old Macintosh desktop lying around, get inspired by Matt of the blog Techmoan and convert it into an iPad dock. As Matt discovered, the screen of the old Mac is exactly the size of the new iPad. You just need to create a slot behind the screen to slide in the iPad. Clear up the junk inside the desktop and put in the iPad charger dock in it. A smooth retro dock for your iPad!
Click here to see the complete how-to video.
CPU = Mailbox
Have a junk CPU lying around? Open its top, clean up the innards and use the shell for a mailbox. You will need to open up a letter slit by removing the upper CD drive area and repaint the box. Place it outside your house and paint your house number on it. Send yourself a letter so you have the pleasure of opening it and taking the letter out.
Cassette tape = Visiting card holder
Fish out an old audio cassette you haven’t thrown out because it had a certain band’s favourite logo on it. Now retrofit it into a visiting card holder. As sustainable designer Jeremy Faludi discovered, audio cassettes are exactly the same shape as visiting cards or credit cards. Choose a cassette which has been screwed and not heat-welded. Open up the cassette with a pair of pliers, remove its innards, including a few spools, until you have a size that can take a visiting card. Next, tape its hinge choosing a tape which will not break or stiffen it up too much. Put a couple of magnets on the other side to make it clasp efficiently. You can choose to cover up the spool windows so that no dirt gets inside.
Click here to check out step-by-step instructions.
Unused CDs = iPhone dock
Remember those shiny circular disks which have become redundant in the days of flash drives? If you have some lying around, how about turning them into a smartphone dock? Julian Horsey of the blog Geeky Gadgets did the project by using about 15 CDs, a drill and superglue.
Media player = Portable drive
Ever since you got your smartphone, your media player has been lying in a desk. It has the storage space and is a sturdy machine, so why not convert it into a portable drive? Players from companies like Creative, Samsung, etc., come with a USB connection so they are ready to be used as hard-disk drives. All you need to do is plug it in and transfer your data to the player. For an Apple-branded device, connect it to iTunes and check on “Enable Disk Use” to allow you to drag and drop files at will.
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First Published: Tue, Jul 09 2013. 07 10 PM IST
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