So you want to get started with customizing your electronics or maybe even do some simple construction projects. But you're not about to put together your own particle accelerator without tackling some simpler projects first.
We've selected a few simpler tasks for you to get an idea of the basic tools and techniques before moving on to more advanced things.
To open most electronics, you just need a decent set of screwdrivers. You probably already have one, but if you're on the market, we recommend iFixIt & # 39; s excellent $ 35 kit, which comes with a high-quality interchangeable driver and 64 magnetized bits.
You also want a soldering iron and various related accessories. Any cheap kit will do (assuming you're not ready to invest in more complex tools just yet), but we'll personally recommend the Tilswall 65-watt station, which has much more precise temperature control and a high-quality metal iron holder for just one few dollars more than the usual kit. Add some solder and you are good to go.
But remember you're going to make some mistakes. To remove the solder you placed in the wrong place, a solder piston is an inexpensive option included in most kits. And to be fair, the plastics that come with the kit are bad (and not in the intended way). This metal and silicone upgrade has saved my bacon on more than one project.
Finally, for the following projects, you want a wire stripper that will allow you to remove the plastic case and expose the ends of wires for new or repaired connections. This tool will help you get that precise paste on all the internal wires that you will be using.
We've picked projects for you quite simply, but to be honest, even these will take some practice if you have don't have at least a little experience.
This inexpensive kit can give you that experience. It includes a few basic soldering and wiring exercises that will teach you the bare minimum you need to get started. The included tools aren't worth much, but they are decent backups on top of the items listed in the section above.
Add some research, maybe a few tutorials on YouTube, and you should be ready to go.
We have selected the following beginner projects from the following three categories: low difficulty, low price and low stakes. That is to say, they are all quite easy when these things go, they are cheap to get in terms of the tools and extras you need to do them, and if you completely flub them you won't be expensive ruin hardware (or at least something that cannot be repaired by someone with a little more experience). All of them are quite fun and have little frustration, but you should do some preliminary research (again, YouTube is great for this) if you are unsure about your options.
Soldering mechanical keyboard
I got my start in electronic mods that assemble mechanical keyboards. While there are ways to build one without soldering or extra tools, you need to brush up on the basics if you want to do some really fun stuff. extra gadget that replicates the 10-key area of a large keyboard) is a great way to start. It is cheap and comes with the circuit board, USB connection and housing. Buy 22 switches (all MX compatible switches work fine) and a set of keycaps if you want to finish it when you've finished soldering.
Speaker driver upgrade
The greatest audiophiles put their own speakers together from scratch. But if you're not quite ready yet, you can swap the drivers on an older or cheaper set quite easily. All you need is a new driver that fits into the housing of the old one. In general, you only need the same diameter. More expensive sets have cable connections that can be disconnected, but for cheaper sets you have to cut the cables from the old driver, strip them and solder them to the positive and negative connections of the new one.
Replacement speaker driver  Lithium-ion battery replacement
If your toy or wireless gadget doesn't get the battery life it used to be and the battery can't be removed like a standard AA, you can open the case and change the battery in a slightly more intense way. Note that this basic operation is only intended for gadgets that use a standardized 3.7 volt battery, such as this one – it is not recommended to do this for your phone . After removing the old battery, you can reuse the power connector with a little desolder or a new solder (make sure you get the correct connection type). If you want to upgrade with a much larger capacity battery, you may need to make extra space in the case with a Dremel tool and secure it with some tape or glue. Close your gadget and it is ready to use.
Replace your guitar pickups
The pickups are an integral part of any electric guitar, and exchanging the part can radically change the way it sounds. You can have the pickups replaced at a music store, but with a little wiring and soldering you can replace each pickup yourself. It takes about an hour (and a bit of courage, if it's your first time), but it's a great way to customize the way your instrument sounds.
Do some research to find out what kind of pickup you want for you start. If you're having a hard time deciding what's best for you, companies like Seymour Duncan and Dimarzio & # 39; pickup finder & # 39; tools can help. Just enter some information such as what kind of music you play and the type of guitar you own, and they will refer you to the respective choices of the companies for the best fit. Alternatively, most companies are more than willing to discuss options with you – just send them a quick email and let them know what you're looking for.
Once you have found your perfect pickup, looking at a guide like this should be more than enough to get you started.
Upgrading or Adjusting a Game Controller
There are many ways to customize a standard game controller – intense gamers have swapped switches and analog sticks for years. There are many different options, such as replacing the controller housing for a cool new look, but one of our favorites is 8BitDo's "Mod Kit" options for classic controllers. With these replacement circuit boards, batteries and wireless radios, you can turn an old controller into a great Bluetooth controller for your PC or phone games, using the original case and buttons again. The kits are available for original NES, Super NES, SEGA Genesis, SEGA Saturn and original PlayStation (non-Dual Shock) controllers.