Recyclebot digests milk jugs to feed MakerBot

The old saying, “garbage in, garbage out” may need to be re-evaluated. Students at Victoria University of Wellington are developing a machine that recycles old milk jugs, extruding an HDPE plastic filament that can then be fed into a MakerBot for 3D printing.

The process involves grinding the plastic into small pieces, then pressing these through a heater and extruder plate to produce a continuous bead of the proper diameter for the MakerBot. Nichrome wire — the stuff of hair dryers and toasters — forms the heating element, and this must be regulated within a specific temperature range for different plastics. The initial grinder design is hand-cranked, but they are working toward a fully automated system. It appears that the machine could also recycle old MakerBot output, provided the grinder has sufficient torque.

So one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure. We envision a future of crazy-haired makers rooting through their neighbors’ garbage, feeding their Recyclebots’ hoppers “Mr. Fusion” style.

Switchmode LED flashlight upgrade

When [Neelandan]’s cheap flashlight’s internal rechargeable battery died, he scrounged for a replacement. Ultimately, the brightness of the light suffered with his new battery, taken from an old cell phone since he had dropped the voltage a bit. Upon inspection he saw that he would have to swap the individual resistors for each lamp to get the desired brightness again. This wasn’t really acceptable as he would have to repeat the process if he used another re-purposed battery with different specs. Instead, he added a new circuit to supply constant brightness until the voltage drops below 2.7 volts. We love to see hardware resurrected, even if it is just a cheap LED flashlight.



WEEE Man is an art display that has been roving around England. No, he doesn’t walk or talk. He is here to remind us of how wasteful we can be. Hackers rejoice, we’re part of the solution. It also doesn’t hurt that he is Seven Meters tall and over three tons. WEEE Man looks awesome, but are we the only ones that spotted stuff and thought “ooh, I could have used that for a cool project.”?

[via The Presurfer]

Behead your laptop

[Mark] sent in this nice trick for breathing new life into an old laptop. [Sarc] had a tibook with a broken LCD. It was still usable with an external monitor, so he simply removed the broken LCD. The tibook (and MacBook) uses a magnetic sensor to monitor the LCD position. To put the machine in the right mode, he taped a magnet in place to make the machine think that the display was in the closed position. To really clean things up, he mounted all the hardware under the desk and used a wireless keyboard and mouse with the machine.

Reusing PCB components

If you’re anything like us, you have a closet full of old electronics, some broken, some obsolete. You can stop using those as paperweights with the help of this guide that shows you how to recycle and reuse PCB components.

The first step of the process is finding electronics you don’t mind taking apart. Next place the PCB you’ll be stripping in a vice, with the components facing away from you and the solder side facing towards you. Grip the component you want with a pair of pliers, and apply a hot soldering iron to the solder that is holding the component. The solder will melt and allow you to safely and cleanly remove the component.

This process can be applied to virtually any component on an PCB, and the author of the guide, [Patented], got a lot of components this way, including resistors, capacitors, switches, audio jacks, and much more. Don’t forget to toss any free-floating metal or plastic parts in the recycle bin when you’re done. You can feel good about the fact that nothing was wasted, you found parts for your next project, and you cleared out some space.

Turn your old hard drive into a sander/grinder

[Jipa] over at MetkuMods put up an original re-use for old hard drives: make em into power tools. The tiny servo motor that drives the spindle doesn’t generate much torque, but once the drive is spinning fast enough, the inertial force of the platter is enough to make it usable for small grinding/sanding projects. The platters are re-stacked directly on top of each other to increase strength – we’d suggest a few dabs of epoxy to make em even stronger. Once stacked, a piece of sand paper is cut to size and held on by the center platter washer. [Via hacknmod]