Projects ranging from easy to breezy.
No project can be fun all the time, and most will throw a curveball at you $300 and two weekends in, which is super fun. I think this is why every beginner project I’ve ever seen sucks. Too afraid of scaring off fresh blood, the maker community recommends easy stress free projects; which sounds great, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who picks up crochet because of a lifelong passion for granny squares. Thankfully Craccum is here to recommend five exciting projects to get your creative juices (and tears) flowing. Approachable to the beginner, but actually useful enough to bring value to even the most annoying of experts, enjoy!
Set up Pi-hole and destroy ads forever.
Isn’t this just an adblock with extra steps? Yup, but this one you do it yourself. In all seriousness Pi-hole has a couple big advantages over a browser extension. Pi-hole sits in between your modem and the internet sucking up ads before they have a chance to get to your device in the first place. By blocking ads at the source you can enjoy an ad-free experience on phones, TVs or any other weirdly pushy internet device.
Setup is pretty simple. Although it does require some light modem configuration; make sure to take a screenshot of anything before you change it and you shouldn’t have a problem.
- 90% of the work is changing your router settings
- Large community for support
- Hardest part is probably going to be finding your modem password
Bill of materials: Free – $34
- If you have an old PC somewhere you’re all set. Otherwise a cheap ARM PC like the Raspberry Pi 2 Zero W should be perfect
Automate your garden, alternately start a garden so you can automate it.
Every so often, as I groggily stumble to the bathroom, I am served fresh and leafy GardenTok content. The gently trickling water and the rustling of the leaves should be a calming start, or end, to my day. Instead I am filled with stomach churning anxiety as I imagine the arduous task of watering a small rainforest on the daily. Thankfully where my body fails, technology provides.
Spring is the perfect time to revitalise your current garden, or get some new plants on the shelf. Much like your garden, this project can go as big or small as you like it. Landlord paying your water bill? Poke some holes in a hose and leave it running. Don’t have any work this summer? Build a greenhouse nicer than your actual home. Consider grabbing some aquarium pumps, grow lights, and a Raspberry Pi for a fully automated GrowZone with smart home integration.
- Relatively time consuming but straightforward
- Anything you don’t want to make from scratch can usually be found at bunnings
Bill of materials $50-$9999:
- Entirely dependent on your requirements. I’d start with a pump, reservoir and Raspberry Pi. But the sky’s the limit (consider using solar for power!)
Build a shoe rack and gain the eternal admiration of your flatties
If your flat is anything like mine your entryway is about 80% shoes. Last year one of my flatmates got a shoe rack and let me tell you, the 6 months before she drunkenly fell and crushed it were a type of bliss I have yet to recapture. Building your own shoe rack is a fantastic way to capture this same joy, just think of the satisfaction you’ll feel as you see the fruits of your labour every time you enter your home. And as with any DIY project, being simple will impress people the most. Just think of the matches you’ll get once you start putting woodworking content in your hinge bio.
- Hardest part is making something that looks nice
- If you’re stuck just copy someone else’s design
Bill of materials: $60ish
- Grab some wood from bunnings and go wild.
- Consider using some old fabric if you want to stay on the cheap side
Build an FPV Done and rain down terror on Albert park
Drones are just about the perfect beginner project. They’re just hard enough to teach you a ton of new skills but also easy enough to be undertaken by pretty much anyone who’s willing to invest the time in it. You also get a drone, which is pretty neat. The FPV community has grown significantly over the years and you’ll find a variety of local retails with reasonable pricing. There are also plenty of online tutorials and guides to help you pick out the best hardware; you could also just turn your brain off and follow a complete build guide. As a bonus once you put together a drone you’ll be ready to take on virtually any other electronics project you can think of.
- Soldering intensive, but most modern boards are designed to make it easy
- A significant amount of jargon involved, I strongly recommend following a tutorial
- Be careful about making sure your transmitter and receiver are compatible. In particular, don’t mix up FRsky and FreeSky.
- Start with an analogue camera for a simpler build experience.
- Use lead free solder (mmm heavy metals so good!)
- Get an all in one flight controller to cut down on soldering.
Bill of materials: $200-$600
- The gear is killer, but thankfully it’s buy once cry once. You’ll need to invest in: FPV goggles, batteries and a charger, remote control, soldering iron, and an endless supply of new propellers.
- Actual parts can vary wildly in price, in general you can cheap out pretty hard. Stick to 4S batteries to save on electrical components. I would recommend getting a decent flight controller as that’ll be doing most of the work.
Give making a map in your favourite game a try
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like getting their hands dirty, rejoice! Mapping is a great way to enjoy an old favourite in a new light. Every so often my friends and I will get a group together to spend the night playing each other’s latest creations. It’s great fun. Of all the projects on this list mapping gives you the most freedom, which is great but make sure you don’t get bogged down in the details. Start off with a basic shell and then get some friends online for a match or two, after a couple of games you’ll end up with a surprisingly refined level. Mapping is easiest in games with strong mod support, source games are the obvious choice but why not consider a minecraft adventure map or creative server? If you’re feeling particularly fancy you could give classic doom mapping a shot.
- Plenty of tutorials available online
- Your creativity will be your biggest asset, and obstacle
- Make sure to have fun with it
Bill of materials: $0
Submitting to Craccum
What better way to spend an afternoon than contributing to the University of Auckland’s infamously good student culture. Tired of your degree? Think we’ve published a bunch of shit this year? Show us how it’s done and submit your work to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Editors are super helpful and swag
- Tell people you’re published
- You can put it on your CV!
Bill of materials: Your Time (priceless)