Maker tech projects provide excellent passion projects: you can stay busy, exercise your skills, and produce a fun and interesting device to add to your collection. That’s especially important right now, as so many of us are dealing with lockdowns.
Other people have to buy all the new tech they have. You, on the other hand, can build your own.
The 5 maker tech projects we have collected here are the perfect way to stay busy, have fun, and use your skills.
1). Build Your Own PC
Let’s start this list with a bang: building your own PC is one of the most amazing DIY maker tech projects you’re likely to encounter in 2020 or any year.
You can check out sites like Octopart for parts, and you’re likely to find no shortage of used but still good-quality tech online or at local computer stores.
Let’s face facts: if you’re serious about making your own tech, at some point you’ll probably want to make your own PC.
Think of all the benefits: you can build your own rig, to your own specifications. You can customize it to be anything you need or want it to be.
Building your own computer is all the more a good idea if you have specialized tech needs of some kind: gamer, a video producer, a YouTuber, or an audio enthusiast.
2). Create Your Own VPN
Privacy is at a premium online, so if you’re looking to protect your sensitive information it’s a good idea to access the internet with a virtual private network (VPN).
Free versions of these services tend to be questionable – you’re probably better off not trusting them with your information.
Paid versions, such as those by Nord and Avast, are of much higher quality.
There’s nothing wrong with paying for a good-quality VPN. That said, why not build your own VPN?
Building your own VPN is a good challenge, but if you’re technically savvy, you’ll probably find it a very fun one.
If you prefer Mac, it’s simple enough to pick up an old Mac and build your own VPN using a macOS server. Another option is a Raspberry Pi.
Finally, if you prefer PC, pick up a used PC laptop and use Amahi.
3). Build Your Own Arcade Table
Here’s another good use for an old PC: a retro arcade, run on the Linux-based OS Lakka.
Once you complete this project, you’ll have a game console that can emulate everything from Atari to PlayStation.
In fact, the complete list of systems you can emulate is rather long, and in addition to the ones already mentioned includes Nintendo DS, Arcade (FBA), Game Boy, Sega Master System, and many more.
All you really need is an old PC or other compatible device – a Raspberry Pi A+ or better yet, B+, or a CuBox-i, or a HummingBoard – the Lakka system, an empty flash drive with at least 512 MB, a USB keyboard, a router, an ethernet cable, a monitor or TV unless you’re using a laptop, and then the 7-Zip software (free), Win32DiskImager (also free) and a game controller that can be connected by USB.
4). Tin Can Wi-Fi Antenna
Have a Wi-Fi signal problem? Looking for a cheap boost?
And by cheap, we mean about $5.00 worth of parts.
This is one of the simplest projects imaginable: a wi-fi antenna created from a tin can and a handful of other parts.
What other parts? An N-type female jack panel mount connector, some copper wire (about 1.25” 12-guaguge), a drill, a ruler, a permanent marker, four nuts and bolts, a soldering iron, and then of course you’ll want your internet modem on hand to connect the whole thing to when you’re done.
5). Build Your Own Amazon Echo
Have you ever wanted an Amazon Echo? They’re pretty useful assistants: they can play media on command, take down notes, and generally make your life easier.
It’s easy enough to buy one of these devices for $50-$150, but if you want one cheaper and you enjoy making your own anyway, it’s quite doable to build your own Amazon Echo with a Raspberry Pi, preferably a Raspberry Pi 3 (though 2 will also do in a pinch), and the Amazon Alexa Skills Kit.
The only other parts are a MicroUSB power cable, a small USB microphone (perfectly functional ones can be had for less than $10), some speakers, an 8GB MicroSD card, and then a keyboard and mouse to set the whole thing up.
There’s nothing quite like a maker tech project as a test and display of your skills, a chance to indulge a passion and produce a useful item. The 5 projects here range in difficulty and complexity, but all should offer a great deal of fun and produce a useful item to your own custom specifications.