Repurposing Old Tech

Posted by Garth on Thursday, November 1, 2007

I have a lot of old technology lying around. A LOT. And it's not that it's broken or useless, it's just that better tech has hit the market and I've upgraded. What I really want to do with this stuff is repurpose it. Even if that involves cracking it open and cannibalizing the components, if I could make something actually useful out of it I'd be all the happier. So here's a list of stuff that I have lying around which I no longer use but which must have a purpose somewhere, somehow...

Compaq iPaq H3650 (battery is completely dead and not user replaceable)
Silver Slider CF Sleeve
AA Battery Pack (plugs into H3650 charging port; 4 AA batteries)
HP iPaq H5450 (Silver Slider CF Sleeve listed above fits and functions with this)
HP iPaq 2215
Sonorix Bluetooth Stereo Headphones (Pre-release version; includes USB BT dongle)
Bluetake Bluetooth Stereo Headphones (including mini-stereo BT transmitting dongle)
Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth Headset
Sony Ericsson T68i (broken nubby)
Olympia Bluetooth 2-Line Landline Phone (includes USB BT dongle)
Motorola Q
Palm Treo 700p (Provisioned on Telus; Pre-release)
Qtek 8500 (won't turn on - repaired twice; HTC won't service it in North America so I'd need to deal with Qtek UK; PITA)
So, pretty much all of these devices (with the exception of the iPaq H3650) have built-in Bluetooth. Versions vary from 1.1 to 1.2 (the Q might have 2.0, but I'm not sure). So, WTF do I do with all this stuff? I have no soldering skills, nor any electronics skills. I'm a software guy. Oh, and I can plug stuff in (like PCI cards and USB cables). Here's what I've done so far...
Donated the Treo to a buddy since he's on Telus and was previously using a Treo 650. He loves it. But, since it's PalmOS it's obviously a dated piece of tech. Still, I'm very happy that he's been using it for... almost a year now I think... because otherwise it would have been a glorified paperweight (and trust me... it's heavy enough to hold down a pretty big stack).

Donated the Q to my buddy to use as an A2DP MP3 player. Admittedly it's a little bulky as a standalone player, but the keyboard makes it decent for things like note taking and the like. However since it was provisioned on Amp'd Mobile, the cell radio is really just taking up space at this point. But, my buddy is loving it with his new MOTOROKR S9, and says both the quality and the reliability are great. So I'm happy with that donation, as it has repurposed what was becoming a very pricey (though I got it for free) paperweight.
Not much, and no soldering involved, but at least it helped me to unload some tech and make a couple of people happy. What I'd like my next (first?) project to be is to convert one of the Bluetooth Stereo Headphones into a BT receiver for my speakers. And then convert the other one into the same thing for another set of speakers. Here's the scenario...
Walking home, listening to tunes streaming from my Kaiser to my S9. Get home, walk in the door, in the middle of a track that I love. I just want to drop the headset connection and establish a speaker connection so that there's a seamless handoff from Kaiser > S9 to Kaiser > speakers. That would just be soooo nice.
Another thing I'd like to do with one of the headsets (Logitech maybe) is make a Star Trek -style Communicator Badge. See, wearing something on your ear all the time is annoying, especially when you really just want to issue voice commands to your PC (using speakers for feedback, so essentially the headset speaker is disabled). The downside to having an always-on mic in the living room is that it picks up ambient noise and doesn't really know when you're issuing a command vs. someone on the TV talking. So a nice little lapel pin on which I could hit a button to put the PC into listen-mode, then issue a command, then hit it again to turn off listen mode (or just have the PC time out) would be phenomenal. I have no idea how I'd go about doing this, but given that everything I want to do is pretty much contained in the headset it shouldn't be THAT hard. Siemens was working on one of these a few years ago, but the project went the way of the dodo.

Anyone have any ideas as to what else I could do with this stuff? Obviously some soldering is going to be in order, which means I'm gonna need to do some practicing. But WTF can I do with my old iPaqs or other BT phones? Suggestions in the comments are appreciated.


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