17 incredible DIY gadget projects

kid with electronics photo
© JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images

We do love a good gadget project. From tinkering with Raspberry Pi microcomputers to automating our own homes, to coming up with cool renewable energy projects...we can't stay away. (Click on titles for links.)

1. Raspberry Pi hack unlocks door when it hears a dog's bark
pi-rex dog door imageDavid Hunt/Video screen captureMaker David Hunt created a clever hack for a door for dog owners who are tired of getting up to let Fido outside. Called Pi-Rex, it is a bark-activated (note, not voice activated, but bark activated) door.

2. Make a Battery with Spare Change
penny battery stackThe King of Random/via"This teaches you how to build a battery with the spare change in your pocket. In just a few steps, a handful of pennies can power a small calculator or an LED bulb."

3. Make a small wind turbine that kids can help build
wind turbine finished© masynmachien"This project is meant to be easy enough for older kids and adults to do without too much experience. It's a great way to brush up on your own skills or teach renewable energy basics to kids."

4. Make a Steampunk Solar Night Light in 10 Stepsfinish the light© Winged Fist"Cheaply make a Steampunk solar night light for your home." Because... why not!

5. Make an emergency light powered by fire and watertealight LED image© JoohanssonIt is not only a neat project for creating an emergency light but also an excellent project for kids learning about science.

6. Turn an old laptop screen into a stand alone monitorlaptop monitor© augustoerico"We often hear of how using a second monitor can boost work efficiency by splitting up tasks between two screens. This project gives you a neat DIY way to get a second monitor hooked up while also re-purposing an old laptop and giving it new life."

7. Home brewer makes a digital tap list using Raspberry Pir pi beer© SchrodingersDrunk"A first-time tinkerer going by the name SchrodingersDrunk on Reddit has rigged up this cool digital tap list display using our favorite DIY platform, Raspberry Pi, and a 19" Samsung monitor. For those who want to follow in his footsteps, he's made the project available on GitHub and answers questions over on Reddit."

8. Make a hand-crank rechargeable flash lighthand crank flashlight© brunoip"This DIY project takes on a gadget that can easily be bought in a store, but instead lets you use materials you already have to make something useful. It's also a great way to build your maker skills."

9. How to make a 35 watt solar panel out of broken solar cellsbroken solar cell© mattfelice"This project is totally adaptable to the amount and size of solar cells you may have on hand, and the best part is that those discarded cells won't become e-waste, but a functional, clean energy-producing solar panel instead."

10. Make a simple microbial fuel cellmicrobial fuel cell 2© drdan152"Make a microbial fuel cell, a technology that harvests electrons that are a byproduct of bacteria breaking down organic matter to produce electricity, at home. This project lets you get up close with the science behind microbial fuel cells and learn about this type of renewable energy technology."

11. How to make a water batterywater battery© Roy02"With a few materials and a little bit of time, he shows us how to put together a working battery made from water. This project could be used to add a little charge to your smartphone or be a fun way to introduce battery chemistry to kids."

12. Make a solar-powered bike light from a deodorant stickfinished deodorant bike light© sudhu_tewari"Use an empty deodorant can for building a solar-powered bike light. The hack is simple, cheap and, we assume, great smelling!"

13. Make a bicycle powered generator in 9 stepsbike generator© abemckay"A great project for making your own bicycle powered generator for charging your electronics with clean energy for every day or as an emergency power supply."

14. How to transform an antique portable radio into a modern Bluetooth speakerantique bluetooth radio© ke4mcl"This cool project shows us how to take an antique portable radio you might find at a flea market or yard sale and give it a new modern life by making it into a Bluetooth speaker. Once transformed, this gadget can pair with your smartphone or iPod and play your tunes wherever you take it."

15. Make a portable solar phone charger for $5solar charger side © ASCAS"Make a solar-powered phone charger for only $5. It's as small as a smartphone and doesn't include a back-up battery, which is more environmentally friendly. ASCAS tested the device on both Apple and Android devices and it worked well with both."

16. Make a fire-powered smartphone chargerfire powered smartphone charger© Joohansson"This portable DIY charger will let you keep it topped up with the heat from your camp stove or other heat source and could be used to power other things like LED lights or a small fan."

17. How to build your own solar-powered planesolar plane photo© jeffmazter406 via InstructablesThe instructable includes not only step-by-step instructions and photos, but also links you to two Power Point presentations by Texas A&M University to help walk you through.

Tags: Do It Yourself | Gadgets | Technology

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