It's happened to everyone. At first, you and your digital companion are inseparable: making dates, writing love letters, planning exotic vacations. But a couple of years later, your eye begins to roam. Maybe it's the new Mac G5 -- so sleek, so super-speedy. Or maybe it's not you at all: Your microprocessing buddy, once so quick to respond to your keystrokes, is sluggish, temperamental -- dare we say it? Outmoded. It's time to say goodbye.

But what's a dissolved romance without a couple of mementos? You always loved that PC for its mind, right? With a couple of twists of a screwdriver, you can keep a little of it with you -- as a stylish circuit-board hanging lamp.

Step One

This project can be adapted to almost any size board (surplus motherboards are a dime a dozen, sometimes literally, on eBay and other sites). Begin by assembling your materials: First, you'll need four motherboard sheets of the same size -- at least six inches square, or big enough to shield a standard-size light bulb (we used four 11-by-7-inch pieces). You'll also need a pair of metal snips, a hot-glue gun and glue sticks, a spool of No. 18 gauge steel wire, a No. 20 stainless-steel hose clamp (available at Home Depot or hardware stores), eight two-inch L corner brackets, a flat-head screwdriver, and a hanging-lamp kit. Depending on your board configuration, you may also need a drill and a 1/4-inch bit.

If your motherboard is a bit overburdened with electronic doodads, use your metal snips to clip off a few.

Step Two

If your board doesn't have pre-cut holes, use your drill to bore two at the top of each piece (one at each corner, a quarter-inch down from the edge). You'll use these later to hang the lamp.

Then, using two L brackets for each joint (one at the top and one at the bottom), hot-glue the four motherboards together at right angles. Each bracket should be about an inch in from the board's end.

Next, cut eight lengths of 18-inch wire. Poke the end of one into a hole at the top of one of the boards and, using your snips, curl that tip into a snug hold. Leave the other, longer end free. Repeat for the remaining wires and holes.

Step Three

Rest your lamp on its bottom end and place the bulb end of your lamp kit into the top of the box formed by the four motherboard sides. Gather the eight pieces of wire and secure them with your hose clamp, tightening it about three inches above the housing for your lamp. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the electric portion of your kit and then bask in a glow that Bill Gates can only dream about!

Laura J. Vogel

Hang this up, invite your techie pals over and wait for the oohs and ahhs.