Too Good To Throw Away: Dealing with an Out-Of-Control Junk Hoard

There it was, after twenty minutes of turning the place over, looking through assorted storage boxes. A Thinwire Ethernet network. About the smallest possible Thinwire Ethernet network as it happens, a crimped BNC lead about 100mm long and capped at each end by a T-piece and a 50 ohm terminator. I’d been looking for a BNC T-piece on which to hook up another terminator to a piece of test equipment, and I’d found two of them.

As I hooked up the test I wanted to run I found myself considering the absurdity of the situation. I last worked somewhere with a Thinwire network in the mid 1990s, and fortunately I am likely to never see another one in my life. If you’ve never encountered Thinwire, be thankful. A single piece of co-ax connecting all computers on the network, on which the tiniest fault causes all to fail.

So why had I held on to all the parts to make one, albeit the smallest possible variant? Some kind of memento, to remind me of the Good Old Days of running round an office with a cable tester perhaps? Or was I just returning to my past as a hoarder, like a Tolkienic dragon perched atop a mountain of electronic junk, and not the good kind of junk?

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[HomoFaciens] Shows Off With DIY Paper Printer

[HomoFaciens] is always making us feel silly about our purchases. Did we really need to buy a nice set of stepper motors for that automation project? Couldn’t we have just used some epoxy and a threaded rod to make an encoder? Did we need to spend hours reading through the documentation for an industrial inkjet head? Couldn’t we just have asked ourselves, “What would [HomoFaciens] do?” and then made a jailhouse tattoo gun attached to a broken printer carriage and some other household tech trash?

In his continuing work for his Hackaday prize entry, which we have covered before, his latest is a ink (…drop? ) printer. We think the goal is a Gingery book for CNC.  He begins to combine all his previous work into a complete assembly. The video, viewable after the break, starts by explaining the function of a salvaged printer carriage. A motor attached to a belt moves the carriage back and forth; the original linear encoder from the printer is used for positional feedback.

The base of the printer is a homemade y-carriage with another salvaged printer motor and encoder driving a threaded rod. The positional feedback for this axis is provided by a optical mouse gliding on a sheet of graph paper.  The printer nozzle is a cup of ink with a solenoid actuated needle in it. When the needle moves in a hole at the bottom, it dispenses ink.

As always, [HomoFaciens] makes something that is the very definition of a hack. Commenters will have to go elsewhere to leave their favorite debasement.

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Frackers: Inside the Mind of the Junk Hacker

Hackers can be a diverse bunch. My old hackerspace had folks ranging from NSA employees (ahem, independent security contractors) to space-probe pilots to anarchist vegan punks. And we all got along because we shared a common love for what we’re doing. One summer night we were out late in Adams Morgan and my vegan-punk friend reaches into the trash can and pulls out a discarded pepperoni Jumbo Slice.

“Wait a minute! Vegans don’t eat pepperoni pizza with cheese.” But my friend was a “freegan” — a vegan who, for ethical reasons, won’t buy meat or milk but who also won’t turn it down if it’s visibly going to waste. It’s actually quite a practical and principled moral proposal if you think about it: he’s not contributing to the use of animals that he opposes, but he gets to have a slice of pizza just the same. And fishing a slice of pizza, in a cardboard container, off the top of the trashcan isn’t as gross as you’d imagine, although it pays to be picky.

A Fracker is Born

That was the night that we realized we all had something deeper in common: we were all “frackers”. If you’ve been around hackers long enough, you’ll have noticed this tendency, but maybe you’ve never put a name to it. Tearing something apart, even if you might break it in the process, isn’t a problem if you fished it out of the e-waste stream to begin with. If you’re able to turn it into something, so much the better. It’s all upside. Need practice de-soldering tricky ICs? Looking for a cheap target to learn reverse engineering on? Off to the trashcan! No hack is too dirty, no method too barbaric. It’s already junk, and you’re a fracker.

internet_radio_wrt54g-shot0008_featuredDo you have a junk shelf where you keep old heatsinks in case you need to cut some up and use it? Have you used a heat gun more frequently for harvesting parts than for stripping paint? Do you know that certain satisfaction that you get from pulling some old tech out of the junk pile and either fixing it up again or, better yet, making it do something else? You might just be a fracker too.

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Hackett’s tripod and some advice on abstraction

hackettTripod

[Hackett] calls it a “transmission problem.” You’ve scavenged the pieces for your build, but nothing fits. Metric and standard hardware clash, a successful weld is as reliable as duct-taping. You’ll hear about plenty of these obstacles as [Hackett] tries to tackle a tripod build in this video.

He was contacted by a group looking to make a bicycle-mounted portable projector. Their request: build them an easy-to-use tripod on a shoestring budget that is strong enough to hold a 30-pound projector. Garbage and scrap turn into a functional device as [Hackett] grinds and welds the tripod together.

The video’s greatest contribution, however, is the advice near the end.

You need to retrain your eye, so you’re not looking at a thing as to what it is, what it’s branded, what it’s originally intended for. What you’re looking at is what it is at the core, and once you start looking at things for what they really, really are, you have the power to completely remake the world.

A desire to re-contextualize everyday stuff is probably the reason you’re a Hackaday reader. Hopefully [Hackett’s] succinct advice strikes some chords and encourages you to keep abstracting and re-purposing the world around you. If you’re new to hacking and need somewhere to start, why not build a robot?

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Junk bots win awards in Vietnam

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In a national competition for creativeness in children, junk bots have reigned supreme. Pictured above is a detail from one of [Vu Van Thankg]’s junk bots. Created entirely from parts pulled from the trash, this thing has 11 motors which supposedly allow full arm and hand control. We know you’ll be upset at how little information there is, but the pictures alone show so much. Just look at the rig he put together for this arm. If that isn’t inspiring, we don’t know what is.

[via BoingBoing]

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk


UPDATE: EMSL has four more boxes ready to go. If you are in the silicon valley area, pick one up.

The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk is essentially a virtual swap meet. A mysterious USPS flatrate box arrives on your door step filled to the brim with random electronics. You remove some pieces that you find interesting or useful. Write about them. Add some items from your own collection, and then ship it off to a recipient you deem worthy. [John Park] was kind enough to send us the box code named Rangoon and here’s what we found inside:

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