Tech fans usually have cupboards full of old gadgets that no longer work, or have been superseded by newer, more efficient technology.

Perhaps, like us, you believe you'll get round to recycling it, but let's face it, you never do. Wouldn't you like to do something useful with those defunct gadgets though?

A new book called 62 Projects to make with a dead computer (and other discarded electronics) gives you some good and some goofy ideas for DIY projects. For instance, we whipped together the Earbud Speaker system below in about an hour from parts from our discarded tech drawer - plus some new odds and ends that cost less than £10 in total.

62 Projects to make with a dead computer, from Workman Publishing is available now. (Workman; £9.99; February 2010; ISBN 978-0-7611-5243-9)

The author, Randy Sarafan, is a new-media artist currently serving as a Virtual Fellow with the cutting-edge F.A.T. (Free Art and Technology) Lab, as well being as a top project contributor and community manager at a popular user-generated how-to website. He also has contributed to Make magazine.

Among his other creations are a breathalyser microphone, a water-gun alarm clock, and USB-enabled fruit. Sarafan graduated with honours in the Design Technology program at Parsons School of Design and now lives in San Francisco. See more of his work at

Note: Material in this slideshow is excerpted from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer (and Other Discarded Electronics) | Copyright 2010 by Randy Sarafan | Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York | All rights reserved.

Earbud speakers

The speakers work pretty well, and - more importantly - doing this project put those two defunct 2002-vintage Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen MP3 players back to work doing something other than filling a drawer (the players serve as the stands for the funnel speakers).

Skill level for project: Novice

(Slide photo above by Nick Mediati: All other photos are from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer)

Phone safe

Finally a use for the many candy-bar phones from 2000 that we still have in our desk drawer.

Just open and gut the phone, pretty up the inside, and glue magnets to hold the two pieces together when you're finished. (Randy Sarafan's book has full instructions on this and all other projects pictured in this slideshow.)

Don't forget to put something heavy inside the case, too, so it will feel heavy enough to burglars to persuade them that it's simply a piece of dead tech and not a hiding-in-plain-sight mobile safe for stashing your spare $100 bills or diamond earrings in. One caveat: Make your spouse promise not to stage any impromptu yard sales without consulting you first, or some nostalgic buyer may get an unexpectedly great bargain.

Skill level for project: Intermediate


  1. Earbud speakers
  2. PDA Doodler
  3. Scanner table
  4. 8bit belt buckle
  5. USB desktop fan