Things you can make from old, dead laptops

laptops useful things during their

working life

but if they break or just get too old

and too slow to do anything productive


what can you do with them well if it's

the latter situation and it's just too

old and too slow to do any real work on

there are still some very useful use

cases that you can put them to

which i will be going into more detail

about later

but if you have a broken one you are in

for a whole

heap of fun as there are loads of things

you can make

out of dead laptops as there are so many

still useful components and

materials inside waiting to be


so let's get creative

this video is sponsored by squarespace

so the first task

is to open them up so that we can get at

the components which usually involves

unscrewing any screws you can find on

the back and prying apart the plastics

this process needs to be continued as

you carefully separate all of the


after which we're ready to start

repurposing them

as you can see there are quite a few of

them most of which can be put to some

kind of use

the first component i want to focus on

though are the speakers

some laptops particularly those made

around 2008 where media playback was a

big focus

had ridiculously good speakers and some

even featured mini subwoofers

as they're usually built into their own

sealed enclosures you don't need to

build a speaker box for them

and they can be used as is my particular

ones are even

ported for extra bass which is very cool

now as they're physically quite flat and

make an interesting shape when placed


i glued them to each other and soldered

them up to a mini bluetooth amplifier

which i also glued in place

as this amplifier works off five volts i

sold it on a usb socket so that it can

be plugged into a usb battery bank for


now to make it look a bit neater i next

got some plastic strips

and glued them together to fit around

the perimeter of the speakers

and after fitting on some thin fabric to

act as a grille it could be mounted

directly onto a wall as it's bluetooth

it can be wirelessly connected to a

phone or tablet

and used to listen to musical podcasts

all while being unobtrusive

and actually very impressive sounding

for the size thanks to the well-designed


not bad moving on to the next project i

want to focus in

on the cooling system in laptops these

take heat away from particularly hot

running ics by utilizing heat pipes

which move the heat over to a set of

fins which then transfer the heat into

the air that's forced

through them by an accompanying fan as

they can handle quite a lot of heat


they're actually perfect for reusing to

cool high power leds

small leds like this have various power

level options and as mine actually used

10 watts of power each they would burn


very quickly if powered up on their own

but once mounted onto the heat plates

with some thermally conductive glue

and with the fan wire to spin up they

can be powered indefinitely thanks to

the high level of cooling

if you end up doing this yourself don't

forget to use an appropriate led driver

circuit though or you could still fry

the led with too much current

i attached mine to a curved piece of

aluminium to make a stand

and it turned out to look pretty cool

thanks to the different materials and a

visible cooling system

this makes for a fantastic light to use

while working but it could also make a

great desk lamp too

particularly if you're interested in

computers and want a lamp made out of

recycled parts

now while we're on the topic of lighting

laptop screens in particular

are worth salvaging even if they're

smashed like this one

this is because when the lcd layer is

removed you're left with a variety of

potentially useful diffusion sheets

fresnel lenses and an acrylic back panel

these work together to spread out the

backlight evenly

and to take advantage of them as is you

can leave them inside the screen casing

and wire up the pcb on the back to

trigger the screen's built-in backlight

this leaves you with a soft diffused

light source that you can then put to a

variety of uses

for example you could use it as a

tracing backlight or mount it onto the

wall to be a fake window

you could even print your favorite

pictures onto thin paper and have them

now backlit for some

striking wall art pretty neat

for help wiring these up to work like

this i do have a separate dedicated

video on the topic which you can find a

link to in the description

now if none of these strike your

interest you can take the various layers


and make use of them with led strips as

these have adhesive on the back

and can be cut to any length one idea is

to stick a short length to one side of a

diffusion sheet from the screen

adding some double-sided tape opposite

this allows the sheet to be looped

around to create a cylinder

which once mounted onto a wall diffuses

the light emitted from the led strip so

that it significantly reduces the glare

from it

and turns it into a pretty slick wall


even better though is using the fresnel

lenses instead for this

as the lenses bend the light and cause

quite interesting distortions

they when wrapped around the leds make a

really nice sparkly rainbow effect that

changes depending on what angle you look

at it from

this is still easy on the eyes but now

it looks really nice visually as well


as for the screen's acrylic back panel

well this is where you can get

really creative for this cover the sheet

in masking tape on both sides

and then trace a pattern or shape onto


now roughly cut around this with a

rotary tool and then remove the

remaining material with a file

until you reach your traced line

the tape can then be peeled away leaving

you with your shape

now to make this extra special we're

going to light it up

for which we'll be using a couple of

small led filaments

these work off around 3 volts of power

so are safe to touch

and are cool running the first thing to

do is to make some slots for these leds

in a piece of wood

and then cut out a base shape around


i stained mine to give it a bit more


the led filaments can now be soldered

onto some wires and pushed through two

holes that need to be made in the slots

once wired up they'll illuminate which

means that the last job is to glue the


cutout in place the light from the leds

enter this cutout at the bottom and get

scattered around

meaning that the whole thing gets lit up

internally giving you a

really awesome little feature light the

creative possibilities here

are endless and could make for really

nice diy gifts for people

now if your screen is not smashed

instead of dismantling it you may want

to get a separate driver board

for it which would allow you to use it

as a standard independent computer


i again have a few videos about how to

do this after which they can be used to


for example a dual screen laptop

allowing for

increased productivity and improved


or even a smart mirror where you can

watch youtube videos as you do your

teeth or have a shave

as usual there are links to these in the

description if you're interested

now the next project we're going to make

requires the use of one of the smallest

discrete components you can find in our

laptop and its location can vary so you

will have to do some hunting

but what you are looking for is a little

cylinder with

two small wires attached and this is

in fact a microphone now these can

actually sound

very good proof of which is that the

little lavalier microphone that i'm


right now was made out of a laptop

microphone that i've disassembled

several years ago and it sounds so good

that i've just used it in almost every

video i've made

since then so that's hopefully testament

to how good they can potentially sound

now as most of you won't have a use for

a little lavalier microphone

i will instead be showing you how to

make a little clip-on communication


that you can clip onto your headphones

and use for extremely clear

calls or even communicating well with

your teammates in games

making this is quite simple first

requiring the microphone's wires to be

soldered to a shielded audio cable

this shielded cable prevents buzzing and

interference noises

so it's quite important now we can

thread this wire through a small piece

of plastic tubing

leaving a short length of wire at the

end for adjusting the microphone's


to mount it to your headphones the

easiest way is to mould a small clip out

of sugru

once dried the tube can be slid in place

and adjusted as needed

while that's essentially it for the

headset the microphone still needs

amplifying as computers typically don't

have very good microphone preamps

so their microphone inputs usually

introduce a lot of hiss into the audio


the preamp i recommend can work off the

five volts provided from a usb port

and it's easy enough to wire up looking

closely at it you should be able to see

a few little jumpers

these allow us to adjust the behavior of

the amplification

controlling both the overall volume and

also the reaction speed of the board's

auto gain control

this auto gain control can reduce the

volume if the input is too loud

so you'll never get sound clipping if

you talk too loudly or shout

once covered up this can be plugged into

a computer's usb port and microphone


and then used as a decent sounding

budget microphone setup

so how does it sound personally i think

it sounds pretty good especially

compared to most headset microphones

out there and the auto gain control in

the amplifier is doing a great job as

well as i can talk quite quietly and

it's still more or less

the same volume as when i talk really


so that should make it better for any

listeners on the other end

not bad for reusing little microphone

from a laptop

moving on this is the hard drive and

it's what all the data on the laptop is

stored on

so if you have any important files on it

now is the time to plug it into an

external usb enclosure so that you can

access them and back them up

and honestly if the drive is of a

reasonable capacity this should really

be its main

use case as it's just what it's most

useful for storing data now if the drive

is broken

or perhaps just too small in capacity to

be worth using for anything else

here are a few interesting and fun

projects that you can make by

dismantling one

to get inside one you'll need an

appropriate screwdriver bit

which can usually be found in a

multi-bit set and once you're inside

you'll see the platters and head array

when turned on this head scoots across

the surface of the drive to read and

write data

as the platters spin quite fast one

trick is to cut out a ring of sandpaper

and glue it to the topmost platter this

can then be used to clean

tools or sharpen things like a pencil to

be fair this is a little bit gimmicky as

it's a lot faster just to use a pencil


but it's still quite novel you can

however unscrew these platters

and as you can see they're very shiny as

they actually have a nice ring to them


you could make a little wind chime with

them and they scatter the light nicely

when in the sun

you can even make a little mirrored

analog clock with one which would be

quite a nice gift for someone who is

into their technology

now going back to the drive there

remains the head array

now its movement is derived from some

coils underneath these powerful magnets

so if you solder some wires to these

coils the head can be forced

back and forth by applying a voltage if

we rig up an audio amplifier to this

it will actually vibrate along with the

sound signal just like a speaker

if you're wondering it is audible but it

sounds very tinny

adding a little paper cone improves

matters but while it's bass heavy up


it quickly drops off and sounds tinny

again further away

and returns to sounding awful this isn't

our goal though as we've already made a

speaker anyway

and the actual plan is much cooler so to

start we'll need a small laser pointer

taking it apart we can find the laser

diode itself

along with a driver circuit

as the diode is very lightweight we can

glue it to the head array so that it too

vibrates along with the sound signal can

you see where this is going

pointing it at a wall creates a visible


vu meter which follows along to the beat

of the music

it looks really cool in person and i

think it's a great use of a dead drive

so now it's time to talk about batteries

now most

older laptops actually have a battery

pack that's made up of

internally individual 18650 battery


which is great news for us because these

are really easy to repurpose

and put to other uses however the

challenge is actually getting them out

of the plastic enclosure as it's

completely sealed closed

and there's no screws or anything that

you can just undo and then pop it open

so it just involves breaking the plastic

and prying it apart

now you do run the risk of puncturing

the battery cells

and also causing short circuits so only

do this if you know exactly what you're


and as with everything it's of course at

your own risk

once you're in they can now be carefully

separated by cutting through the wires

and conductors holding them together

now it's easy to cause short circuits

here so you need to be particularly


and before starting make sure you follow

the circuit so that you start in the

right place

with the cells now separated they each

need to be checked to make sure that

their voltages are 2.8 volts or above

lithium cells degrade and become

unstable if they drop

below this voltage so never use a

battery that's below 2.8 volts

as mine were all safely above this value

they're good to reuse

while you could use these in any number

of projects you will need to implement

protection circuitry so that you don't

over discharge them

and to ensure that they're all kept

balanced during charging

this can get quite complicated so

instead i suggest getting a few

empty single cell battery bank cases

these are super cheap

and have protection circuitry built in

which turns them off when the cell

reaches 2.8 volts

you can then use these to charge your

devices or power things like the speaker

project we made earlier

battery banks can be quite expensive so

just getting the enclosures and reusing

old laptop batteries in them like this

is a great way to save some money

so so far we've made quite a few

interesting things

but before i move on and show you the

last repurposing project which will lead

me neatly on to showing you what to do

with old but

otherwise still working laptops i want

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so the last repurposing project i want

to cover is perhaps the one that will

save you the most amount of money

which is actually repurposing laptop


and using them to make a home security


this is fairly easy to do as laptop

webcams usually use the usb protocol

meaning that they can just be soldered

up to a usb cable after which they can

be used on

any pc as a standard video input these

can then be placed at various locations

around your home

which can be done discreetly as they're

so tiny and unobtrusive

once hooked up to a computer running

some software like contecam

the webcams can be monitored and

recorded and the software can even

notify you by email

of any movement caught by the cameras

for more info there is

you guessed it a link to a thorough

video on the topic in the description

now the computer that these webcams can

all be plugged into doesn't have to be

particularly powerful

so this is actually a great use of an

older one that still works

but you don't know what to do with some

more ideas particularly if the operating

system is old as well

is to use it as a retro gaming machine

as some games don't work on modern pcs

old laptops can also be a bit of a life

saver for specific

older hardware for example i have a

spectrophotometer that measures the

precise wavelengths of light

and builds a graph of their brightness

great to have but the accompanying


only works on older 32-bit versions of


so it needs to be run on all the

hardware to use at all

another thing you could do is use one as

a media pc

i actually took one apart a while ago

for this task and to make it a bit nicer

looking i transplanted the hardware into

a new scratch-built case

so that it wasn't an eyesore in the

living room

the last thing i'm going to suggest is

that you literally just give it away to

someone who doesn't have a pc

whether it's a young person who needs to

learn about how computers work

or an old person who just needs access

to emails they might have more patience

to deal with the limitations

and it could prove to be really helpful

to them

so that's it for this video i think

we've made some really interesting


and if you have any more ideas you can

leave them in the comments down below

now if you want to support my work you

can do so by visiting patreon.com

diy perks and many thanks if you decide

to support me on there

but other than that you can always just

consider pressing like

and maybe consider subscribing as well


but as for this video it's over so i

shall go now

i hope to see you next time goodbye for