VCR Centrifuge


VCR’s practically scream “tear me open!” with all those shiny, moving parts and a minimal risk that you’re going to damage a piece of equipment that someone actually cares about. Once you’ve broken in, why not hack it into a centrifuge like [Kymyst]? Separating water from the denser stuff doesn’t require lab-grade equipment. As [Kymyst] explains: you can get a force of 10 G just spinning something around your head. By harvesting some belt drives from a few VCR’s, however, he built this safer, arm-preserving motor-driven device.

[Kymst] dissected the video head rotor and cassette motor drive down to a bare minimum of parts which were reassembled in a stack. A bored-out old CD was attached beneath the rotor while a large plastic bowl was bolted onto the CD. The bowl–here a microwave cooking cover–acts as a protective barrier against the tubes spinning inside. The tube carriers consist of plastic irrigation tubing fitted with a homemade trunnion, which [Kymyst] fashioned from some self-tapping screws and a piece of PVC. At 250 rpm, this centrifuge reaches around 6 G and best of all, gives a VCR something to do again. Take a look at his guide and make your own, particularly if your hackerspace has a bio lab.


  1. Jeremy Cook says:

    Hopefully Iran and North Korea don’t read Hackaday :)

  2. pcf11 says:

    What is this crack, “minimal risk that you’re going to damage a piece of equipment that someone actually cares about” supposed to mean? I still have a VCR I use here.

  3. AKA the A says:

    Interesting that people aren’t making these out of washing machines…
    It has a nice heavy-duty bearing, the samples can be much further from the center, that combined with the fact most of them are capable of 1000+ rpm gives you tens of Gs instead of several.
    Also, it has a double walled debris shield already in place ;-)

  4. ejonesss says:

    1. the vcr is so cheap that you find the combined with the dvd player and even a tv and if you live in a university town you can get them from the dumpsters of apartment complexes.

    best time is in around graduation day and around the finals.

    2. the brushless motor that spins the drum happens to have the driver chip on board so you can connect to it and use the video drum as is.

    if the motor isnt powerful enough you could remove the driver board and use an rc esc to drive it.

    the only thing you do have to be careful about is the power supply as there is a main voltage capacitor that can still have a charge in it so handle the board with care.

    if you have a electronics repair shop they may be able to get you a junk vcr.

    like i said they are so cheap most people throw them out when they quit working.

  5. butterfly says:

    6G? Who gives a fuck. Call me when you can hit 1000RCF.

  6. zuul says:

    i thought of making one with a hard drive,.. spins much faster
    the tricky thing with centrifuges though is that they need to be balanced very precisely

  7. Ken Quast says:

    If you want really cheap and simple I made one for $5 last year. I am still using it and the comment about balance is important. I just run at low speed to balance and then go to about 4000 RPM. I have a video and writeup on my site here:

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