Stuff's Geek Projects Special

We show you how to pimp your existing gadgets and even build your own

A new year always brings with it two things: a lack of cash and a thirst for self-improvement. So why not solve the former and satisfy the latter with a great geek project. 

We've come up with a stack of wallet-friendly, brain-upgrading, gadget-pimping projects. Where we once bought, now we build: cameras, dinosaur-shaped showerheads and even homemade nuclear reactors.

We've split our projects up into handy sections - one for musicians, one for photographers, another for 3D printing fanatics, one for coders - or wannabe coders - and one for those of your who want to tech up your home. We've even thrown in a few suggestions for ways to get creative with your Raspberry Pi or Imagination Technologies Creator CI20. 

Below you'll find links through to all our projects pages - now it's over to you to get creative...

READ MORE: Google Project Ara - The last smartphone?

Photography

It's time to have a break from bokeh and take your camera on a wild ride on everything from infrared photography to light painting. 

Build it: Bigshot camera kit

The ultimate learning project for any budding snapper: building your own camera.

Project #1: Level up your phoneography

Photographer Adrienne Pitts reveals her favourite smartphone tools for travel photography.

Project #2: Make a pro cinemagraph

Julien Douvier shows us how to make moving pictures that trump any app.

Project #3: Create a light tornado

Martin Kimbell reveals how to use long exposure and a handful of LEDs to make glowing tornadoes.

I Build... IR-hacked DSLRs

Steven Saphore takes us into the realms of invisible light with his infrared-shooting camera hack.

READ IT NOW: Geek Projects Special: Photography

Smart Home

You don't need to move to a new-build flat in Smartville, Clevershire to experience the benefits of an automated abode. A teaspoon of tinkering and a sprinkling of sensors are all you need to get started...

Build it: Littlebits smarthome kit

Piece together the 'bits' to create your own connected home

Project #1: Aint no party like a smart bulb party

The next level up from a disco ball, create a light display for your tunes

Project #2: Geo-fence your central heating

Now that the weather will be reliably horrible for months, it's time to automate your boiler

Project #3: Multiroom audio

Don't fancy buying a new hi-fi setup just for streaming? Here's a quick multiroom solution that uses your existing kit.

I Built... A fusion reactor

The ultimate smarthome project? An unlimited supply of free, clean energy. Which might sound like sky-pie, unless you're Dr Jonathan Howard, who built a fusion reactor in his London flat.

READ IT NOW: Geek Projects Special: Smart Home

Music

Even if you're clueless about clefs or as melodious as a machine gun, the tech is here to teach you a new tune. From instrument kits to the best music-making apps...

Build it: Korg MS-20 Kit

Put away your saucepan drumkit and homemade maracas, because this is a serious DIY instrument.

Project #1: Loog guitar

Ever complained that Ikea don't do flat-packed instruments?

Project #2: Rocksmith 60-day challenge

Could you teach yourself hot to play the guitar in just two months?

Project #3: Make music with Kinect

You might not use your Kinect sensor to play darts any more, but you can use it to make sweet, sweet* music (*sweetness not guaranteed)

I build... Modular synths

Matthew Regula started building modular synths in the early 2000s, but don't let that put you off.

Playlist: Music-making apps

8 of the best mobile apps to take your music-making habit on the road.

READ IT NOW: Geek Projects Special: Music

Coding

Learning code doesn't have to mean locking yourself away for months with a Python textbook. Start with these hands-on projects...

Build it: DIY Gamer Kit

This kit from Technology Will Save Us has all the ingredients you need to make your own handheld console, with Snake pre-coded for you.

Project #1: Learn a programming language

You may have failed GCSE French, but Blocks is different...

Projects #2: Build the button of power

A switch that can perform just about any web-connected task?

Project #3: Learn to mod

Learn to code your own modifications for Minecraft.

I fixed... London parking

Enric Requena reveals how he became co-founder of AppyParking.

READ IT NOW: Geek Projects Special: Coding

5 of the best Raspberry Pi projects

Get the most out of the cheap little tinkerers' board with a variety of projects that range from easy to fiendish in difficulty.

Dedicated Minecraft machine

Free up your PC so you can enjoy building blocks without the arguments.

piBeacon

Turn your Pi into a functioning iBeacon that will transmit a message if it spots your phone in range.

Solar smart meter

Beam the current output of your solar panels to wherever you are over the net.

3D scanner

You'll need 42 Pi boards, but it'll be worth it when you can scan whole people...

Home server

A great starter project to stream your media to almost any screen. 

READ IT NOW: 5 of the best Raspberry Pi projects

5 of the best Imagination Technologies Creator CI20 Projects

With more processing grunt than the Pi, you can tackle some more power-hungry projects…

Home lighting controller

Use the CI20's Wi-Fi skills to make it Christmas all year round with colour-changing lights controlled from your phone.

Media centre

Turn the CI20 into a set-top box that will stream Netflix and media from DLNA-equipped devices.

Steam Machine

Stream games from your PC using Nvidia Gamestream. Robot Butler The CI20's built-in Wi-Fi will allow you to assemble your robot army and control it via Wiimote.

DIY Ouya

The CI20's graphics processor is plenty powerful enough for playing original PlayStation games and the like.

READ IT NOW: 5 of the best Imagination Technologies Creator CI20 projects

3D printing

As fun as solving 2D printing's paper jams has been, it can't compete with the geeky joy of rendering in the third dimension. We show you how to take your first steps - starting with a homemade 3D printer.

Build it: Printrbot Simple Metal KitThe only thing standing between you and geek glory is a four-hour build of 'moderate' difficulty.

We 3D-printed... a carLocal Motors' John B Rogers Jr tells us about the company's first 3D-printed car.

Project #1: Scan a statueHelp build a 3D-printable library of the world's monuments.

Project #2: 3D printed glassesLearn how to rustle up the world's geekiest face furniture. 

Project #3: Print your runCreate a unique marathon memento: a 3D-printed route map.

Playlist: 8 great objects to 3D print

READ IT NOW: Geek Projects Special: 3D printing