PCB parts salvaging made easy


Take a moment to think about how many old or damaged computer motherboards you have tossed away over the years. Sure we try to repurpose everything we can, but reclaiming electronic components from complex devices can be overly time consuming if you don’t have the proper means of doing so.

Ideally, if we were to try removing components from a motherboard, an old stove or an unused toaster oven would be great. If you didn’t have either item at your disposal, you could always attack the board with a soldering iron and some braid – but who has the time for that?

[Giorgos Lazaridis] over at PCBHeaven put together a quick video demonstrating his favorite technique for salvaging components after a motherboard has outlived its usefulness. Using a 2000W heat gun, a few hand tools, and couple of metal pans, he had the entire board stripped bare in about 30 minutes time. He talks about some of the best parts he has discovered while salvaging and points out a few hard-to-find items that can be easily obtained by tearing down a motherboard.

Sure his process might not be as easy as inverting a PCB in an oven, but his method is cheap, portable, and takes up very little space.

Keep reading to see [Giorgos'] video demonstration and don’t forget to check out some of the other cool stuff he has done in the past, such as his temperature-controlled soldering station, this acrylic bender, or this bench top function generator.

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Solar-powered junkbot


Instructables user [martzsam] recently built a simple robot using miscellaneous junk he found around his house. The first parts he scrounged up were a pair of 1.5v electric motors and some wire scraps, after which, he went to work on an old garden light. He detailed how to carefully remove the light’s solar panel as well as the charging circuit, which he used to power his robot. The pieces were mounted on some old erector set parts after a bit of rewiring, then the bot was set in motion. [martzsam] also mentions that he tweaked the solar panel’s charging circuit and battery to run the motors at half speed until light is shone on the panel, at which point the robot runs at full speed.

This project would be great to do with kids as it teaches the concepts of re-purposing common household items as well as allows them to use their imagination in designing a fun, yet simple robot. Gather up some old junk and your kids/nieces/nephews and get going!

Continue reading to see a quick video of the robot in action.

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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.

The glass recycling game


Operating under the premise that glass bottles were not being recycled as much as plastic or aluminum because there’s no payment for the effort, the team at The Fun Theory set out to add a non-monetary incentive. Here is the fruit of their efforts, the Bottle Bank Arcade. Now recycling glass bottles comes with a bit of a game.

A light flashes above one of the holes in the recycling bin and then rewards points if a bottle is inserted there quickly enough. This Simon says type concept proved incredibly popular in the video embedded after the break. We would image some of the kids in the video made their parents haul them home and back with some empties so they could play.

In one evening, this modified bottle bank was used over 100 times, while a nearby low-tech repository was used just twice. This is a great way to use some tech knowledge, a love of hacking, and desire to spread joy in order to make the neighborhood more fun and help increase the amount of trash that ends up being recycled. This is the same team that put together the musical subway steps, we hope they keep this trend going!

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Smart can crusher

[Mangonha] has put together this interesting project involving aluminium can recycling (translated, sortof). They’re using an arduino to tally up how much aluminium they have accumulated. That information is then passed on and displayed on a google map. There are families that go around collecting the cans as a means of income, and this system could be very helpful to them. They state that their goal is to eventually have restaraunts and more families included. We’re a bit curious about how helpful this really is. How is that information actually changing the actions of the collectors? Would a simple flag on your door or window signalling enough cans to pick up or not be just as effective?

[via the Make flickr pool]

Going green, by not buying new stuff


Recycling is great. We’ve seen a pretty hard push in that direction recently. We like the fact that our modifying of hardware is generally saving it from the dump. Keep in mind, that just using old hardware can be advantageous too. We don’t always need the new shiny thing, maybe we’re fine with what we’ve got. That is exactly what lastyearsmodel.org is about. You can join their facebook group and even get stickers for your old devices.



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]