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What do you get when you put together a FireWire port, a few batteries, some wire, and a playing-card box? You get 18 more hours of battery life for your iPod, that’s what.

In October 2004, Drew Perry, 19, a lighting technician from York, England, released a simple schematic and photographs of his iPod Battery Pack contained entirely within a box of playing cards. This device, he says, cost him less than $6 to make and provides an additional 18 hours of battery life for his iPod. By comparison, Belkin’s Backup Battery Pack for iPod costs $60.

Perry’s friends, skeptical at first, soon changed their minds. “Initially they call me a nerd,” he says. “If they own an iPod, they then ask me to make one for them.”

It wasn’t long before Chris DiClerico, 31, a Web designer from New York City, saw the schematic and was inspired to do the same thing—but in an elegant, pocket-size Altoids mints tin. David Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana, duplicated the same feat around the same time.

“[The Belkin charger] is kind of this big, weird, white hunk of plastic hanging on the back of your iPod,” says DiClerico. “I think this is way cooler.”

He adds that while he has received offers as high as $40 to make more Altoids iPod chargers, he has no plans to make a commercial version. But if you make your own, you’ll have all the battery power you need—plus the minty fresh breath your friends will love.

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