January 27, 2004
"Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks": Indulge Your Inner Mad Scientist
Sebastopol, CA--Put a hacker in a room with a Furby for a weekend and
you'll hear a conversation that's fairly one-sided. Toss in an 802.11b
network card, a soldering iron, wire cutters, a logic probe, and a few
other carefully selected tools and materials and you'll have potential.
Add a copy of Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks (O'Reilly, US $29.95)
by Scott Fullam and by the end of the weekend that Furby will be saying
things you never imagined.
From How to Hack a Toaster to building Cubicle Intrusion Detection
Systems, Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks offers an array of
inventive, customized electronics projects for the geek who can't help
looking at a gadget and wondering how it might be "upgraded." An
inveterate hardware hacker since the age of ten when he unpacked his first
Radio Shack 100-in-1 Electronics Set, author Scott Fullam hopes that his
book will get others as excited about hardware hacking as he is. "I love
to take things apart to see what makes them work. I also love to
re-purpose equipment for my own use," he says.
To the hardware hacker's eye, almost any kind of consumer electronic
equipment can be modified to do things it was never intended to do. True,
you might void your warranty in the process, but you could end up with
something even better than the original, or, at the very least, create an
interesting conversation piece.
"So many of the electronic gadgets and equipment we have now becomes
obsolete within months," says Fullam. "Hacking together something new from
these so-called obsolete items breathes new life into things that might
have been discarded." The process is educational, too, asserts Fullam:
"People know less and less about how everyday electronic appliances and
equipment work. By hacking some of these items, the reader can gain a
better feel for how things work."
"Hardware hackers help restore the balance of power in the consumer
hardware space by showing how to liberate, extend, repair, and better
control the electronic technologies in your life," notes Andrew "bunnie"
Huang, author of the popular book Hacking the Xbox. According to Huang,
Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks helps to lower the barrier of entry
to hardware hacking. "A title deserving of the O'Reilly name, this book
has something for everyone, from novice to expert."
Beginning with basic hacks, tools, and techniques for those who may not
have a background in electronics, Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks
covers the tools of the hardware hacking trade and basic soldering
techniques. Clear step-by-step instructions allow even those with no
formal electronics- or hardware-engineering skills to hack real hardware
in fun and clever ways. Hacks are rated on a scale of difficulty, cost,
and duration. Projects range from those that are truly useful to some
things you may have never thought to do, but which are really cool, such as:
Building your own arcade game
Making radio-controlled cars play laser tag
Building an automobile periscope
Creating a remote object tracker
Hacking an 802.11b antenna
Building a building-size display
Maybe you're an electronics hobbyist who likes to learn by doing. Maybe
you hack software and want to see how the other half lives. Or, perhaps
you've never hacked at all, but you'd like to get started quickly with
some projects that do something interesting from the start. If you're any
of these, then Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks will indulge your
inner mad scientist. Using the projects in this book as a jumping off
point for other new and clever hacks, it won't be long before you're
looking around, asking, "What can I improve next?"
Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks
ISBN 0-596-00314-5, 331 pages, $29.95 US, $43.95 CA
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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