The 10 Best Hacks of 2010

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Hello, visitors from StumbleUpon! Like what you see here? Check out PCWorld's GeekTech Blog for more cool hacks and cutting-edge tech. Or check out GeekTech on Twitter or Facebook

2010 has been a great year for homemade hacks and mods. Not content with rooting phones, modders took to all areas of tech to fiddle, from PC casemods, to farming aids, to clothing. Below are a few of GeekTech’s favorite hacks from over the last year.

Star Trek Doors

If given the choice, even non-Star Trek fans would lust after these bedroom doors. The doors were created using PIC micro-controller, an air compressor and a door split in half, a door track, solenoid-operated valve, and various other pneumatic fittings. Rather than reaching out for a doorknob, just press a button and the doors will slide open and close slowly after a few seconds. Check out the video and get full instructions on Marc DeVidts’ blog.

iPad Retro Gaming

The iPad also was the basis of a few nice hacks. There was the ChromePad, which allowed the Chrome OS to run on the iPad, as well as hacks that gave it Verizon connectivity and, yes, Windows 95 support--now that’s mind-boggling. But one of the coolest was a hack that let you play retro games on the tablet, with a Wiimote no less. You did need a jailbroken iPad first but for a Nintendo emulator, it’s worth it.

The Coffee-Powered Car

For a while now, scientists have been trying to work out ways to make cars run without the need for precious oil. Electricity, water and even cow dung have been explored to varying successes. So who would have thought coffee would get cars up and running in the morning? The car in question had been heavily modified in order to allow it to run on coffee for a British TV show. Although this would seem an efficient way for future cars to run, it needs very regular stops and drinks around 56 espressos per mile (and you thought you had a caffeine addiction...).

iPod-Controlled Car

Possibly the ultimate hack of the year, a DIY hacker figured out how to control a car externally using a lowly iPod Touch. With a bit of wireless network modding and the use of RedEye for the remote system, car hacker Dave Phipps made the iPod capable of controlling the windows, closing the doors, and managing other other little subsystems of the car. Check out the video to see the hack in action.

The Lego Printer

Hacks with the most basic of materials often produce some pretty amazing results, and the Lego and pen printer was one fine example. The USB printer was created with Lego bricks, a felt-tip pen and few mechanical parts. Although it probably takes a little longer to print, and can only print one color, it is much cheaper to replace the ink than normal printers. Win!

Overload of all Casemods

There have been a few innovate casemods this year, such as a recycled old wood stove PC (with smoke and fire effect) and even an old motorbike becoming a very brightly colored PC. However, the most amazing mod had to be the God of War’s Kratos replica. Sadly there were no details on how the case was made, but it is going to take a lot in 2011 to top this one.

Apple TV hacks

Apple’s newest streamer box opened the hack floodgates: The first hacks appeared within days of its release. Thanks to various DIY developers, the Apple TV 2 can now surf the Web, listen to Last.Fm, get Plex and provide weather forecasts.

Homebrew R2-D2

This huge R2-D2 is amazing. You can climb in and drive it, as well as be the Pied Piper of neighborhood dogs and scare away small children. It has all the R2-D2 essentials, like a rotating head and sound effects. We're not quite sute how it was made, but what we do know is that it was made out of an old plastic drum--could there be any better way to recycle?

LCD Portal Shirt

Well-known modder Ben Heck bought hacking to clothing to create the cool LCD portal shirt. It’s not only an awesome way to confuse friends at a costume party, but it was also a very simple hack. It’s essentially just a LCD screen mounted to the front and a camera on the back, with a battery hidden in a pants pocket. Ben even gave the shirt away to a lucky competition winner, just in time for Halloween.


Farmers could breathe a sigh or relief when German company Conrad came along with a modified scarecrow. The revamp of the traditional scarecrow basically held a rave in the middle of a field, with bright obnoxious lights and loud noises--something birds and pests probably don’t like all that much. If pests still don’t get the message to go away, they get blasted with air by a desk fan. Simple, yet potentially affective.

Did we miss something? Do you have your own nominations? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Previously in this series... The Top 8 Future-Tech Stories of 2010

Follow GeekTech on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon