Repurposing retro gadgets to score points and save cash (Pt. 3)

Sign advertising the Atari 2600 game “E.T.,” which is generally considered to be the greatest video game flop of all time.

E.T. won’t phone home, but it’ll make a great coaster. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Rob DiCaterino/Flickr)

Don’t think of it as retro junk. Think of it as a series of opportunities to hone your DIY muscles through the magic of upcycling. Click if you missed PART 1 or PART 2 of this article.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 13 – An NES cartridge desk clock

Here’s another way to make an analog desk clock. With one AA battery and the necessary moving quartz pieces, that old NES cartridge – let’s say it’s “Uncle Fester’s Quest” – can become useful. Sadly, blowing on the cartridge won’t make time flow any faster. If you aren’t sloppy about it, you can always remove the clock parts and slap Uncle Fester back into the NES and play.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 14 – The buckling up Genesis

Ever notice the pleasing shape of Sega Genesis cartridges? Sure you have, they’re shapely. Shapely enough to curve pleasingly under your belly button. Just attack the necessary hooks and you can upcycle that “Shaq Fu” cartridge into a fly belt buckle. Wear an old school Wu Tang shirt along with it and you’ll be a hip hop ninja. Or don’t. Perhaps that’s best.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 15 – Atari 2600 holds your business

There is no good reason to play Atari 2600 games anymore, so just stop it. The promotional artwork is cool, however. That means that instead of playing “Pac-Man” where the protagonist eats dashes instead of dots, or “E.T.” where everyone’s alien buddy makes an annoying twinkle sound when he runs, use those cartridges to hold your business cards! It’s artsy, it’s retro, and it keeps yet another copy of “E.T.” out of the landfills.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 16 – Atari 2600 holds your drinks

There is a very good reason to use Atari cartridges as coasters, however. They’re the right shape. Mask the label, paint, then apply clear resin over the label to protect that fresh 2600 art goodness. Stick a felt pad on the bottom to fight condensation and you’ve got it.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 17 – NES controller dock for iPhone

Don’t you dare try to dock on iPad on this, or it’ll fall over and Jesus will cry. Take an old NES controller, eBay the appropriate connector cable and plug the controller into a powered USB source. Then, all that’s left is to dock your iPhone or later-generation iPod. Jesus will be well pleased.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 18 – NES USB hub

If you tire of making clocks out of your NES cartridges, you can always go for the USB hub. It’s relatively easy to make a 4-port hub that works with USB 1.1 or 2.0. Just Google it and follow instructions. You can thank me later.

Repurposing retro gadgets No. 19 – Office-ize your N64 controller

If you’re like any other sane person, you agree that N64 controllers were wacky looking. The dinky middle joystick, the rainbow of weird button colors, the shape of an inebriated giant butterfly that has stolen morphine from a southern nursing home – it’s a mess. Since you’re a responsible, working adult now, you’ll need to make that thing into a useful paperclip holder. Take out the joystick and cram in some clips. Put pens in the button holes you’ve hopefully created. Work a fancy USB extension port in where the D-pad used to be. It’ll be a blast, responsibly so.





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A series of classic arcade game buttons displayed in close-up on an orange console backing.

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