Laser Engraving on an iPhone

- 8GB iPhone, Laser Engraved
- Laser used: 45 Watt Epilog Laser
---(courtesy of Mark Clements,
---Advanced Marking Solutions,
---Fife, WA).
- Laser Speed - 100%
- Laser Power - 70%
- Download artwork file (Corel Draw Format)

I recently decided to tattoo my iPhone for all eternity. I made this decision for a few reasons. First, there are some obvious security advantages to personalizing a portable device. Although personalization will not prevent a determined thief (who, with sandpaper in hand, would just steal the device anyway) it will certainly help deter tempted jealous types from letting their hands wander onto your property.

Now, some of you might be asking yourselves why I would make my iPhone difficult (if not impossible) to resell by putting my name on it. This brings me to my second reason for tattooing my iPhone. I typically use a phone until it dies, then I buy another. Therefore I will probably never sell my iPhone to someone else because historically I'll wait until my current phone is on it's last leg before I shop for an upgrade. However, for those of you who are like my friend Matt (upgrading and signing a new 2 year contract for a discount on the newest and coolest phone every 6 months) tattooing your iPhone would be a bad idea.

As a side note, when I was in high school it was cool to have an expensive TI calculator. Unfortunately, people lost their expensive TIs every year to theft. Those of us who couldn't afford to buy a second calculator if our first was stolen would scratch our name into the case or cover it with stickers to prevent our calculator from being "mistaken" for someone else's. Times have changed a bit and now it's cool to have an iPod, not a calculator. If you have a friend or family member who owns an expensive iPod or similar device, don't destroy it with hand etched names or stickers, get it laser engraved!

If you would like to look into laser engraving devices such as iPhones, iPods, laptops, ect, there are several good resources out there, including Adafruits laser engraving service out of NY. There are undoubtedly others who will engrave your device, but I've used Adafruit before for their MintyBoost kit and I liked the service I received from them.

If you already have the means to get a device engraved (maybe you have a laser or know someone who does), I'll include a link to the vector file that I used for my phone for others to download (Corel Draw format). To get the artwork I used on my phone, click here.

The Epilog Laser website also has a file you can use of a martini glass that looks pretty cool. This would be a way to personalize your iPhone but still keep it somewhat easy to resell (although personalized, it doesn't have your name on it, so as long as the new owner isn't a non-drinker, you're good to go). The Epilog site also has specifics on how to set up the laser (speed, power, etc). These are the same settings Mark and I used when engraving my phone.

You can purchase a laser similar to the one used to customize my iPhone for a surprisingly small sum, about 10k. If you're interested in owning your own personal Epilog Laser System, you can contact Epilog to find out who your local reseller is. If you're in the Northwest, contact Mark at Advanced Marking Solutions. He spent a great deal of time going over different Laser options with me and allowed me to see an Epilog Laser in action by helping me customize my iPhone. It has always been a dream of mine to own my own laser and Mark was instrumental in helping me decide if an Epilog Laser was right for me.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below!

MintyBoost iPod and iPhone USB charger

image above is from

I have been looking for a long time for a project that I could build with my fiance that would be and interesting and useful, and at the same time provide her with an introduction to electronics and soldering.

I settled on the Minty Boost from LadyAda. Kits can also be purchase from Make Magazine's online store (which is where I got my 2 kits - the kits were v1.2 by the way). For $20 I figured I really couldn't go wrong, and I was right.

The kits proved easy and fun for my fiance and the instructions from LadyAda's website were more than adequate. When we were done we had two functional chargers. The picture below shows our chargers without the Altoids gum tin (we need to go buy some gum).

Here is where things get a bit sticky. You can see in the picture that there are 2 iPhones and a Shuffle. One charger is plugged into the Shuffle, while the other charger is plugged into the iPhone that is turned on. The Shuffle charges perfectly (although it's hard to see that the LED is on in this pic), but the iPhone refuses to charge. I'm stumped as to what the problem might be. We have tried both iPhones (one has the current software version of 1.0.2 while the other has an older 1.0 version) and neither iPhone will register or take a charge. If anyone has any suggestions or figures this out, please let me know by posting to this blog, or to the iPhone portion of the LadyAda forum (or both, that way both communtites benefit from your infinite wisdom).

All in all, I think the project is a lot of fun even if I never get my iPhone to work with it. I would highly reccommend the project to anyone interested in useful electronics projects. And don't be scared away by this project. My fiance had never soldered in her life and she had no trouble at all. Just remember to follow the instructions carefully and you'll be set.