Week 1

Class 1

We cover the basic tools and concepts needed for the class. These items are important to begin hacking into everyday objects.

What is it that we need to be mindful of before we hack into something?

1)What are we looking for?

2)How can we exctract something with as little dammage as possible? 

3)a close examination and knowledge of the system inside the object before hacking it may provide valueable information about how the component inwhich we are interested works.

4)Does the object work before hacking? If it partially works, what parts do not?

In This Class:

We define a system.

define open system

define closed system

We open up some objects and look at the systems inside.

We cover a method of documenting our dissection.

We identify individual components and look at how they are connected to create a system.

We excract a component and make it work stand alone.

Tools to work with

Bench supply


Alligator Clips


Soldering Iron


Find an everyday object (ie: a VCR, a scale, a coffee pot). Open it up and discover how it works. In the next class, you will be teaching the class how your object works. Use diagrams and photos of your hacking. Take special not of what components could be useful elsewhere. Choose one or more components to use outside the system. Be ready to show this component in a working state. You are teaching the SYSTEM of your object.

Class 2


Teach the class how your object fulfills it’s purpose, the system of the object. Present your diagrams and documentation. Present your component in a working state.

In This Class:

we look at transducers.

we look at actuators.

From the previous assignment, you harvested one or more components from your object.

We have disparate components. How do we bring them together?
In this class we will bring the students components together and create a new system. Regardless of the logic to the final product, the goal is that we get the pieces to work together.

How Do we do this?

1)Examine the individual components and discover their purpose.

2)Look at the properties of each component and begin matching them with each other

3)Design a system on paper of the possible combinations.

What can help us in this?

1)We look to commercially made objects. This examination will reveal the systems developed by professional builders.

2)We give the parts of our system definitions


Concieve a project and begin developing it. Draw the diagram of a working prototype. Find two parts of your system and bring them into the next class.

You will be teaching the SYSTEM of your project.

Week 2

Class 3


Present your project drawings, and collected components. Teach your system.

In This class:

We bring in our project ideas along with two components that we plan to use in our system.

There may be the need to add an element to our ideas for control of our components. If this is the case, we will look to a microprocessor for this functionality. In some of the items that we hack into we will find that they are controlled with a microprocessor. Here we will learn how we can use a micro-controller or an IC to control out project.

In This Class:

We cover basic micro-controllers

We cover programming

Assignment :

Use a micro-controller to operate two or more of your components. Create a mini system with them. This assignment is meant to educate you about your component. Use the assignment to learn something you did not already know.

Class 4


Present your micro-controlled components.

In This Class:

We define a one to one relationship.

We cover advanced microcontrollers

We look at ICs and hard to find components commonly found in discarded objects.

555 timer

LM386 op-amp

Scrounging for capacitors, resistors, power regulators etc…


Design your system on paper. Build your prototype.

Week 3

Class 5


Present you designs for midterm presentations.

In This Class:

We review Programming micro-controllers

We repurpose an object.

The Apple Plaintalk Microphone as a sensor.


Prepare your prototype for presentation in the next class.

Class 6


Present your working prototype. Proposed system, harvested components, and the new object itself.

In this Class:

We look at power supplies other than the bench supply

ATX computer power supply

power adapters form discarded electronics

We repurpose an object.

Week 4

Class 7

In This Class:

We need to make our projects robust. Though the soderless breadboard is great for simple prototyping, a circuitboard is for longevity. There are a few methods of making these boards. Here we will examine alternative methods of designing low cost circuit boards.

We make perf board components.

We repurpose an object.

Speakers from headphones.


Design and build a simple circuit on a perf board. Incorporate the use of a perfboard into your project.

Class 8

In This Class:

Etched Circuit Lab.


Etch your own board for your project.

Week 5

Class 9


Present your etched circuit board.

In This Class:

Where to find motors. Motors which will cost upwards of $3 from a vendor are free from discarded electronics. Today we are going to pull motors out of a few objects.

We repurpose an object.

5v Reed relay as a magnet switch.

Class 10

In This Class:

We build something from disparate parts as a class. This exercise is a test of the skills we have covered over the course of the session.


Work on your final project.

Week 6

Class 11

Field trip

Class 12


Final presentation of systems.