Your electronics may possess awesome secrets.

Greetings! I found something mildly awesome and figured I’d write a mini-blogpost about it. In my house, there is a tiny alarm clock.It looks exactly like this, because this is a picture of it:


It used to be my Dad’s, then it was my brother’s, and then I stole it and opened it up. I was not expecting, however, for this seemingly innocent alarm clock to have a secret. It’s been holding out on me. Check it out:

ImageLooks pretty normal, huh? A few components, some markings, and some wires leading to the alarm piezo. Uninteresting, right?

But wait! There’s more! What’s that in the upper-right corner of the board? What’s that tiny line between the two holes all about? Look closer:

ImageOh man. Does that mean what I think it means? That my 2-dollar alarm clock has a super-secret hidden feature? That not only can it display 12-hour time, it can also display military time? NO WAY.

I don’t know why, but I actually got really excited about this. So I hurried up and connected the two pads!

ImageThen I screwed everything back in, extra tight, popped in a battery, and did a little dance. It worked!

ImageWoah! 13:03! That’s awesome!

But wait a minute…

Take a careful look at the LCD display. I think I know why this feature ended up getting scrapped. The display only has enough segments to display a “1” in the leftmost digit. So what happens if I set the time higher than 19?


It goes back to 10! Well, maybe not really. Maybe it’s just displaying the rightmost part of the 2. I couldn’t be sure unless I took an in-depth look at how the clock displays the time. But that’s besides the point! I kept clicking the “Hour” button until it went all the way to “14,” and then it reverted back to 0. So while it couldn’t display the WHOLE Military time, it still did pretty good for a cheap clock!

Thinking about this makes me sad and excited at the same time. Sad, because I know that there are devices out there that have not realized their full potential. For whatever reason, what would be an awesome setting gets cut out of the final device, left to be unnoticed by 99% of people.

It also makes me excited though! There could be all kinds of hidden features in your electronics! All, I had to do was open up the case and solder a tiny wire, and I got a whole new display type! Yet another reason to open up ALL the things!

So go out there and hack those electronics!

I, for one, am going to go search my phone’s circuit board for a “Laser” function.


4 thoughts on “Your electronics may possess awesome secrets.

  1. I love stuff like this. Little bits and pieces that, like you said, get missed by 99.99 % of people.

    You sir, are a traditional hacker … not the 2000’s type of hacker that pull code apart and rewrite it, but the 1970’s type of hacker; a hardware hacker.

    It’s great stuff. Document all your discoveries. It is a good read.

      • Hi.
        Actually, seeing as you like tinkering. I’m trying to mod a keyboard usb into a straight PS/2 … without the adapter. I’m a little worried I will get the voltages and wiring wrong and fry my $200 Filco keyboard.

        Many people wouldn’t appreciate the subtleties of such a mod but its a bee in my bonnet I’ve been needing to fix for a while.

        I don’t suppose you have ever tried anything like that?

      • I haven’t done exactly that, but I have done some usb stuff before. The v+ voltages are the same for usb and ps/2 so overloading either probably won’t be a problem, but be very careful not to short anything! Apparently short-protection is not a required feature for usb ports. Anyway, now my computer only has 4 usb ports šŸ˜›
        Do you have a blog? I’d love to see your stuff!

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