What’s the best thing about do-it-yourself (DIY) projects? Maybe it’s the chance to actually save some money by building your own gadgets.
Or is it the actual building process itself? After all, it gives you a chance to create something and grow your skills.
One thing’s for sure: DIY projects are a big part of being a real tech geek. If you want to go beyond being a mere consumer of tech gadgets to an actual real geek, the only way to do it is by building your own.
And on that note, these 4 projects will get you off to a good start.
A Retro Arcade Table
If you have an old PC, why not convert it into a retro arcade? You can always go to Octopart to shop for parts like slide switches and once you install the Linux-based OS Lakka you’ll have a game console that you can use for Atari, PlayStation, Nintendo DS, Game Boy, and so much more.
You’ll need a Raspberry Pi A+ or, better, a B+, or an old PC. A CuBox-i or a HummingBoard will do, too.
You’ll also need a USB keyboard, an empty flash drive, a router, an ethernet cable, a game controller with a USB controller, and a monitor or TV unless you’re using a laptop.
In addition to the Linux-based OS Lakka, you’ll need the 7-Zip software (free), and then the Win32DiskImager, which is also free.
A Homemade Alternative to Amazon Echo
We’ve talked before about useful gadgets, and it’s probably time to update that list with Amazon Echo.
While Amazon Echo isn’t a particularly pricey gadget, you can still get one cheaper if you enjoy creating gadgets and you want to make your own.
You’ll need a Raspberry Pi, ideally a Raspberry Pi 3, and then a MicroUSB power cable. You’ll also need some speakers, a small USB microphone (it’s okay to go cheap for this, perfectly functional ones are available for very low prices), an 8GB MicroSD card, and of course a keyboard and mouse.
Once you put it all together, you’ll have a device that can play media on command, take notes, and generally serve as a household assistant.
Create Your Own VPN
With privacy at a premium today, it’s a good idea to use a virtual private network (VPN) when going online.
There are free VPNs, but you’re better off not trusting them. After all, it’s generally a safe bet that if you aren’t being asked to pay for the product, that’s because you are the product.
You could of course pay for a more professional VPN service, such as those provided by Nord or by Avast. These are of much better quality… but where’s the fun in that?
You can build your own VPN using either an old Mac and a macOS server, or a Raspberry Pi. Alternatively, you can pick up a used PC laptop and create an Amahi-based VPN.
Not only is this project fun, but it will also provide you with privacy once you’ve finished and you’re using it.
A Homemade Dropbox Alternative
You’re no doubt familiar with Dropbox, a file backup service that provides an excellent way to keep your information safe.
If you need to access the same file on different devices, Dropbox provides a chance. Or, if the unthinkable should happen, Dropbox provides a great way to get your files back.
That said, why not build your own? A homemade alternative is not only a fun project, but it can also offer you the peace of mind knowing that you’re the only one with access to your files – not a third party.
To build your own Dropbox you’ll need a Raspberry Pi, an external disk, and a wireless network card. You can also use the open-source service Owncloud to handle the syncing and control of your data.
Once you’ve set up your server and installed Owncloud, you’ll have your very own personal cloud service. This is the perfect thing if you have a lot of files to keep track of since the limits will be whatever limits you select.
Being a real tech geek is all about going beyond being a mere consumer. Anyone can buy a new gadget; far fewer can make an informed choice about the best gadget to buy, and still, fewer can build their own for fun.
The 4 DIY projects described here all offer ways to save money and challenge your skill while participating in the most essential pursuit for any real tech geek: the creation of new gadgets. Happy creating!