Polarized art fixture made from a busted laptop screen

laptop_screen_polarized_art_fixture

[Pedro] had a busted laptop LCD screen on his hands, but rather than throw it out, he brainstormed what he could possibly do with what would typically be considered a worthless item. He decided to make a simple art installation using the scrapped part, so he gathered a few other supplies and got to work.

The first thing he did was pull the LCD screen from the laptop, separating the front panel from the backlight panel. He drained the liquid crystal fluid from the display, and set it inside a picture frame in place of the glass. He added spacers around the edge of the frame so that the backlight could be mounted several inches behind the LCD panel.

[Pedro] then found a few polystyrene and polycarbonate plastic items from around the house, and placed them inside the frame. As you can see in the picture above, the polarizing filter built into the LCD screen makes for some pretty cool effects.

While you could debate for hours over exactly what is art, there’s no denying that his PolFrame looks cool and is a great way to save electronics from the scrap heap. We just want to know what he did with the LC fluid he drained from the screen!

PCB parts salvaging made easy

mobo_salvage

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.

[Read more...]

Think Geeks wants you to have broken stuff

Think Geek has a growing pile of returns and damaged product that they’re trying to get rid of. The purveyors of technological oddities, like any other large retailer, sometimes have stuff that doesn’t work right, or has been damaged somewhere between factory and consumer. The broken bits find their way back to the distribution center and now they’re stuck with the task of doing something with it.

They can’t sell it, and we’re happy to say they don’t want to throw it out. So they’re considering giving it away to worth-while causes like Hackerspaces and schools. Looks like no real details have been hammered out as of yet. But if you belong to a Hackerspace or other group that can find a use for this stuff, click-through the link above and sign up to let them know you’re interested. The goldmine of reusable stuff is located in Columbus, Ohio and pick-ups might be available. Otherwise they’re going to need to find a way to cover the cost to ship boxes to those interested.

Don’t forget to document your projects and let us know what you use this stuff for.

[Thanks RenderMan]

PCB drill press on a budget

An accurate drill press is an essential tool for making your own through-hole printed circuit boards at home. Reader [Josh Ashby] offers up a solid design using scrap bin materials.

A major issue with PCB drilling is that even the slightest horizontal play will snap the delicate carbide drill bit. Hobbyist-grade tools such as Dremel’s drill press attachment are usually too sloppy for this task, while a more precise instrument might set you back a couple hundred bucks.

[Josh’s] design uses a nylon “sled” moving vertically in an aluminum u-channel track. Most of these materials were salvaged or were acquired inexpensively from a local hardware store, and assembled in less than a day. Surprisingly, this low-tech approach has proven sufficiently smooth that he’s yet to break a bit while drilling. And the entire setup, including the knockoff Harbor Freight rotary tool, cost less than the wobbly name-brand accessory alone.

Happy meal toy scavenging

We’re sometimes shocked at the electronics included in ‘disposable’ items. For some reason (our tech inclinations?) we’ve been getting those audio greeting cards from relatives and it kind of kills us to see the PCB, batteries, and speaker in what would have otherwise been a fully recyclable card. Now we’ve got several sets of those guts waiting around for our next project.

[David Cook] cracked open another disposable item, an Avatar action figure that came as a Happy Meal prize. What he found inside will actually be useful. There’s a battery holder for the three coin-cell batteries, A blue LED (for those blue LED hacks our commenters are so fond of), and a piezo speaker. There are some other discrete components that may be of use to you but the first three are certainly a boon for those that are  junk scavengers like us.

Has anyone else found some goodies inside these types of free toys? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. But for now we’re just glad to see the first good thing to come out of that annoying market saturation that accompanied the movie release.

Incidentally, [David's] h-bridge writeup is our go-to reference for building quick motor controllers from parts on hand, or that can be purchased locally.

[Thanks Gron]

Scratch built jog wheel


[whatsisface] sent in his scratch built clone of a Griffin PowerMate. The PowerMate… is just a big knob, so it’s easy to see why more than one person has attempted this. [whatsisface] was inspired by a bit-tech post that did nearly the same thing, only they used the head out of a VCR for the knob. All the other components, like the optical encoder, are salvaged from a mouse, which we talked about in our scavenging How-To. He used a RC car tire for the actual knob. While we’re sure it works great in dirt, we’d probably go with the weight and inertia of the VCR head instead. Have a look at the video below to see the knob being used with the Volumouse software.

[Read more...]

How-To: Scavenge a mouse for parts

ps2 mouse opened
Chris Kiick posted about swarm robotics earlier in the week and today publishes his first Hack-A-Day How-To.

Old computer mice are being abandoned in droves. They’re tossed out because of dirt, obsolescence, or for being entirely too beige. Anyone who has a computer usually has more than one mouse and you can get them for pennies, if not free just for asking. Fortunately for the discriminating (read: cheap) hacker, these little widgets are chock-full of project parts. Today’s How-To will dissect a computer mouse, extract the useful parts, and give some ideas about how to use them.

[Read more...]

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