Tag Archives: DIY

How to make a DIY smartphone stand for under $1

7816754688_487dd75457_hSmartphone stands are a great way to watch content on your phone without having to hold the phone upright, and there are a ton of different DIY methods for making them. A lot of them are made so that they’ll hold your phone horizontally, but some users want stands that prop up their phones vertically, similar to an iPhone dock from Apple.

If you want to make something similar, I’ve discovered an insanely-cheap method for building a smartphone stand that will prop up your phone vertically. It’s cheap, but it does take a little bit of assembly. Here’s how to do it.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • MiniDV tape case or a regular cassette tape case
  • A handful of pennies
  • Hot glue gun w/ glue sticks
  • Rubber tape
  • Dremel power tool

How to Make It

Technically, just the tape case will do the trick if you want a barebones solution; just open up the case all way and stick your phone in the slot. A MiniDV tape case is the perfect size for most phones, but a regular cassette tape case will do the trick.

However, if you want to take the stand to the next level, you can add a few things to make it perfect:

1. Take your pennies and hot glue gun and glue the pennies inside the case. This adds weight to the stand so that it doesn’t slide around. Pennies aren’t the best option, since they’re currency and all, so if you have any other tiny objects that weigh a lot, you can use those instead.

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2. Next, use the rubber tape to line the stand so that the phone won’t slip around when it’s in the stand. Since my iPhone doesn’t fit perfectly in the slot, I cut out small strips of the rubber tape and glued them into the slot to add a little padding so that my phone would fit perfectly.

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3. Lastly, take your Dremel power tool and use a small drill bit to carve out a small hole on the bottom of the tape case slot so that the phone’s sound can exit through the speaker without it being blocked by the stand.

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Conclusion

It’s a pretty janky-looking smartphone stand, but it’s dirt cheap and it does its job. Plus, it still folds up just like cassette tape does so that you can toss it in your bag and take it with you on the go.

Of course, buying a pre-made smartphone stand may be a good investment if you plan on using it all the time. Good smartphone stands can cost as much as $30, but that’s a small price to pay for something that you’ll use every day into the future.

Build it on a budget: A $500 workhorse PC

You may remember well over a year ago when we first introduced a budget build guide for DIY PC builders, and it’s long overdue for a refresh. Computer components have come a long way since then, and Intel recently launched their new 4th-generation Core Haswell chips.

As I mentioned in last year’s guide, not everyone needs an end-all tricked out custom PC with water cooling and all the bells and whistles. You most likely just want a computer that can get work done. This budget system will be great for most everyday tasks, as well as more slightly intensive activities like some gaming, streaming movies and music, and editing photos and home movies.

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This budget build assumes that you already have a mouse, keyboard, and a monitor lying around to use with your new system, and that you’ll only need the basic components to get up and running. I’ll also only be listing off my recommended parts, so if you don’t know how to build a computer but want to learn, Lifehacker has a great guide that’s perfect for the computer-building novice. With that said, let’s get to it.

Case and PSU

Thermaltake V3 Black Edition ATX Mid-Tower with 430W Power Supply – $60

We decided to go a bit more expensive with the case and power supply bundle this time around, and we think the upgrade is worth it. The Thermaltake case is way better looking than the Rosewell that we chose last time, and the 430W power supply should be more than enough to handle anything with this machine.

Motherboard

MSI B85M-P33 Motherboard – $65

It’s a low-cost motherboard, but it has all the bell and whistles that you’d need; SATA III, USB 3.0, six total USB ports, and both DVI and VGA connectors. Plus, MSI is a good brand that we trust.

Intel_i3_SB_2011Processor

Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor – $130

This is Intel’s latest 4th-generation Haswell chip, and with 3.4GHz of dual-coreness, it’ll be speedy enough to breeze through most tasks you throw at it. The 4130 is one of Intel’s slowest Haswell chips, so it certainly won’t be as fast as other options, but for a budget build, this will be pretty solid.

Graphics

Intel HD Graphics 4400

We didn’t include a dedicated graphics card, mostly because we’re trying to keep this build around $500, but the 4400 integrated graphics that come with the Core i3 CPU are actually pretty solid. They won’t be able to play any of the more graphic-intensive AAA titles, but HD video playback will be flawless and casual gamers will still be able to enjoy their selection of games.

RAM

G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 – $72

While we chose 4GB as the sweet spot with the last time we picked out a budget build, we feel that 8GB is now the new norm. Any more than that would be mostly unnecessary unless you plan on rendering a lot of HD video and such.

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD Blue 1TB SATA III Hard Drive – $75

WDC-Caviar-BlueHard drive prices have gone down tremendously since our last budget build, so we decided to go with a 1TB drive this time around. We feel that this is an ample amount of storage for those who have a lot of photos, music, movies, etc., but it’s also not too much storage that you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Of course, you can never really have too much storage, so feel free to bump it up to 2TB if need be. You can usually find some pretty good deals on high-capacity hard drives.

Optical Drive

Asus 24x DVD Burner – $20

This one’s pretty simple and easy; find a 24x DVD burner and buy it. They’re stupidly cheap and there’s no reason not to get one.

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium – $100

Yeah, we know that Windows 8 has been out for almost a year, but we’re still sticklers for Windows 7. However, if you really want Windows 8, it’s the same price as its predecessor. You can also get a copy of Linux for free, allowing to spend that saved $100 on upgrading other components.

Total Cost: $522

That final price doesn’t account for shipping, so you’ll want to make sure you set aside some cash for the guys at UPS or FedEx, but if you can find the parts at an online store with free shipping, then all the more power to you.

Obviously, don’t take my word for everything I suggested here. I know everyone has their own opinions on components. If you have any questions about your own budget build, you can leave a comment below or you can visit the many online resources available to you. Tom’s Hardware Forums is just one place that can provide you with a lot helpful feedback.

Image Credit: kodomut

How to build a custom computer, Part 1: Getting Started

Today we look at big and bulky desktop PCs like they are a thing of the past. Our mobile devices pack huge amounts of processing power and they manage to squeeze that into very small formats. Consoles are taking over gaming, but a good desktop PC can still turn heads.

Origin PC Custom Gaming Desktop
Origin PC Custom Gaming Desktop

There are many companies that provide “custom” gaming desktops and so forth, but there are some tips you can apply to any desktop PC. Before you invest money into any solution like this, ask yourself what you will use it for mostly. A very basic configuration can cost way under $500 and will still play HD content, provide you with ample storage and many other great ways to make your time worthwhile.

If you are looking for a solid workstation or a beastly gaming machine, things get a lot more difficult.

There are a couple of rules that you can keep in mind for any of the above mentioned choices:

  • Upgrades – you want your system to support the latest upgrades for as long as possible; a good motherboard is the key to do just that
  • Chassis – invest in a good computer chassis since this will last you for ages; this also influences cooling, wire management and what hardware you can fit into it
  • Power Supply – get a certified power supply with ample wattage; a home office/ multimedia PC will do just fine with a 450 Watt power supply but if you want some gaming, go for a 600 Watt PSU as a minimum
  • Storage – do not go overboard here; despite the massive storage needs today’s multimedia files have and the massive amount of space games take up, there is no point in investing in a lot of storage from the start; save the money since you can add more later
  • Memory – you can always get more later and 8 GB (2x 4GB kits) are quite cheap and provide you with ample performance

Building a desktop PC isn’t difficult either. Buying the components and assembling the system yourself is very easy and you could finish one easily in one day. Most of these ready-built machines have that added to the price tag, so you can save some money there. Not only that, but you will have the pride of running your own system.

If you are unsure about the entire process, worry not since companies like AVA Direct even offer barebones or DIY systems for just a few dollars. Getting a good desktop PC off the ground can be fun, cheap and rewarding. To help you with the entire process, I will be posting a small series covering all the important aspects of building a PC from scratch.

Mykea Turns Your Boring IKEA Furniture Into Works of Art

I’m a big fan of IKEA furniture.  Sure, it might not be the most durable (and certainly doesn’t hold a candle to your grandparents’ solid oak chifforobe), but it’s typically affordable and they offer sleek, modern styles.  If you have the luxury to visit an IKEA showroom, you can easily spend hours wandering through the pre-fab household scenes.

One thing I’ve noticed after moving to a city with an IKEA, though, is that everybody seems to have identical furniture in their apartments.  Want to avoid blending in with your neighbors?  Check out mykea, a site that lets you purchase unique artwork that can be easily applied to your otherwise drab furniture.

To get started, select the type of furniture you have (or plan to buy).  Mykea has a fairly good selection, and if you can’t find your furniture you can submit a request for them to add it.

After that, select the art you’d like to place on the furniture.  You can preview how it looks on several different pieces of furniture by moving your mouse over the images.

After you’ve found something you like, click it and you’ll have the option to order it.

If you’re an artist, mykea has a designer’s kit that will allow you to create your own design (or an entire series of designs). And if you decide to purchase a design, make sure to check out their installation instructions.