Chances are, there's an old Nintendo Entertainment System gathering dust somewhere deep in the crevasses of your closet. Or a Gameboy. Or a Sega Genesis. An Atari 2600 joystick, perhaps, or maybe a busted Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge. What to do with these ancient plastic husks when they've outlived their time?
As it turns out, options are plentiful. In today's world of retro-hobbyists and geek-centric e-tailers, vintage game cartridges and consoles can be converted into all sorts of nifty, crafty stuff. You can use that old NES as the basis of a great do-it-yourself project -- or you can just let someone else do the heavy lifting, and buy a cool re-purposed game item online.
Converting old controllers to USB
NES USB controller
This handy instructional video from RetroUSB provides a step-by-step guide to a DIY conversion. The hostess is knowledgeable, personable, and knows her way around a soldering iron.
Sound like too much effort? RetroUSB also sells external USB converters for a selection of classic controllers. Or, pop on over to Thinkgeek and pick up a USB-friendly replica of an NES controller. There's also an Atari USB joystick, though it's out of stock as of the time of writing. Strictly speaking, these replicas aren't the real thing, but we won't tell. Promise.
Super NES cartridge clock
If analog isn't your thing, and you're more of a maker than a buyer, try this step-by-step guide to creating your very own NES alarm clock.
Guitars made from old consoles
The NES Paul
The creator of the "NES Paul" (it used to be a Les Paul, see) offers a number of behind-the-scenes photos of his instrument-in-the-making here. It's not a detailed step-by-step guide, though, so best to steer clear unless you really know what you're doing.
Awesome iPod docks
iPod cartridge dock (SNES)
On the DIY side, this is one of the easier conversions to do, and there are some intriguing variants online. Turn a discarded Nintendo 64 controller into a dock, or if you're more of a Sonic fan, a Sega Genesis. The possibilities are endless.
The NES Lunchbox
We like your style! Instructables.com has a handy step-by-step slideshow describing this conversion, which might be more approachable for some of the less tech-savvy among us (although it still requires some power-tool usage).
No, seriously. The phrase was originally coined as a joke by computer writer Andy Ihnatko, but in the 1990s he and others actually started building them. Though the first Macquariums were made from the classic Compact Macintosh shells, the late-90s iMacs also proved a good fit. There are a number of how-to guides for building a Macquarium, or you could just buy one here. Fish not included, of course.
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