10 Amazing Hacks that Harness the Awesome Power of USB

NERF USB stick destroyer

Alright, so this particular project doesn't actually involve creating something that uses USB, persay. We're still including it because 1) It does involve USB, at least tangentially, 2) It IS a hack, and 3) It's totally awesome.

What exactly does the NERF USB stick destroyer do, besides the obvious? It's a NERF gun-mounted electronics scrambler, which disables RFID tags and ruins USB sticks in a flurry of laser-gun sounds and flashing lights. But don't take our word for it-- check out the video .

USB to Cat5 connector

This hack relies on the simple fact that when it comes right down to it, there's not that big of a difference between USB and Cat5 (ethernet) cable. They're all just bundles of wires. This hack shows how you can rewire a 8-wire Cat5 cable to act as an extension cable for 4-wire USB signals. USB doesn't function well over very long distances, but you'd still be hard-pressed to find a cheaper way to make custom-length USB extensions.

Run USB Through Telephone Lines

In the same spirit as the USB-Cat5 hack, this video shows you how to wire a USB-to-telephone line adapter, allowing you to use the wiring that's already in your walls as USB extension. Is this a good idea? Probably not, since the wiring in your walls might well be much longer than the actual distance from one room to another, and if your phone rings your gadgets could get fried. Nonetheless, it's a neat trick to impress your nerdy friends.

Make a USB reading light

Maybe the oldest USB hack in the book, this article from Make magazine shows you how to make a USB reading light out of an LED and some wire. There are dozens of takes on the same hack floating around on the internet, from lava lamps to mood lights, but it's an excellent starting place for any aspiring USB hacker, and more useful than most USB hacks.