Cannihilator Can Crusher

This box will crush your cans and deposit them in the bin below. Branded the Cannihilator, [Jeff Walsh] built this with his two sons, [Jake] and [Ryan]. Early hacking eduction is important if they want their future projects to be regular Hackaday features.

The crushing power is provided by a solenoid pneumatic ram. As seen in the video after the break, the can goes in the door on the left, is crushed, then drops through a slot. [Jeff] had fingers and hands in mind when designing this and included a few safety features. The “crush” button is locate on the opposite end from the can slot, there is a kill switch to disable the solenoid, and a keyed switch to shut the whole apparatus down. A Basic Stamp 2 microcontroller handles the electronics with the help of a daughter-board to manage the load switching. This is a nice addition to the creative can crushers out there.


[Thanks Mike]

49 thoughts on “Cannihilator Can Crusher

  1. Yeah, that is without a doubt a pneumatic cylinder. Hardly a solenoid by any stretch of the imagination.
    This project DOES use a solenoid valve to control the flow of air however.

  2. Neat!
    Very clearly an air cylinder though, not a solenoid.
    The video says its powered by compressed air, and those are air lines going into it.

    Don’t want to confuse aspiring hackers!

  3. a shame mine is not finished yet. pretty much the same concept but less power than this one. although we headed for automation instead of safety and beer cans instead of coke. this might not be the best combination now that i think of it ;)

  4. A family friend had built a can crusher while I was growing up, always very fascinated by it. No MCUs or anything like that, just an electric motor from an old dryer turning a piston with an on/off switch and was mounted on a bunch of custom built rigging, it just smashed continuously while on and you could drop cans in one at a time (more than that and it would jam).

  5. Googfan,

    That would actually work, but (maybe) not for the reasons you were thinking:

    Two kilojoules were required to put a pinch in that can, according to the caption below the photo. Boosting the output to be able to zap a can hard enough to crush it would probably create some very dangerous conditions.

    Also, the heavy-gauge wire used to magneform often explodes as the forces of such high energy electromagnetic fields simultaneously repel the metal being formed and the coil itself. It creates a pretty impressive explosion.

    Here’s a site where the process is used to shrink quarters (and other coins).

    I’d really, really suggest NOT doing this. I don’t think Hackaday needs an obituary section.

  6. While I applaud the effort..what the hell does the basic stamp do in this scenario? Seriously all that is required is a solenoid valve (which it has) and a push button (also present) the safety switches are in line with the voltage that operates the solenoid so unless I am missing something it is there to be pretty.Even if they are using it for something it certainly isn’t necessary.

  7. could have been done a little faster with out the
    stamp controller just using a extra couple of switches and a couple of relays I have been tossing around a few ideas for a high speed crusher that will crush then faster or in a auto mated fashion so that I can load the cans and walk away

    I may use a arduino just to say I have used one

  8. I love the comment about the Arduino crusher…the folks in the Parallax forum will too. Thanks, Oliver.

    And also thanks to “Mikerocontroller” for recommending us to Hack a Day!!

  9. ARRGH! Everybody is crushing cans, while i need UNCRUSHED CANS with an H cut in them. dont need the tops and bottoms, just the flat side of the can to build the hull/skeleton/ribs/skin of my giant model aircraft.
    seriously. i want to build something out of carefully shaped aluminum can segments (aluminum-can-plate) and lightweight tape. and im thinking giant powered model aircraft. or life-size fully functional (single-use) cessna
    but i would need a machine to make the H cuts in the cans, they just take up too much space in standard cylindrical form

  10. wow, not strong enough. a simple mechanical lever can crust cans so flat they feel like sheets. upgrade to hydrolic, a 10 ton press ram would do the trick.

    Plus this is only useful in places where they dont have can deposits to make sure the streets are not littered with cans.

  11. I’ve had this exact plan in my brain for years, but never bothered because the recycle nazis here don’t want the cans crushed — they can’t differentiate between the differently priced soda and beer cans. Blargh.
    I hate having huge bins of cans in the recycle area.

  12. i think i can make it safer by having a hole in the side and a zig zag baffles so that a it would be more difficult for someone to get their hand into the crusher

    as it would be too easy for a child to play around and get hurt

  13. John R and JBC – The ram will never be extended when the lid is open. It retracts when the lid is opened just 1/4″ and won’t extend again until the lid is closed AND the button is released/pressed again.

  14. If the BS2 loses power, the ram retracts because the solenoid is a 3/2 type and air pressure is always holding the ram back so it can’t be pulled out manually. But I do like the idea of an accordian boot just as an extra precaution. Thanks, ejonesss!

  15. Interesting, but useless in places like here, Quebec, that charge a $0.05+ deposit for cans.
    To return them, they have to be intact, especially if using the automated return machines that have to read the bar codes.
    I also agree with previous comments that the device itself isn’t particularly environmentally friendly, when compared with the simple disposal of the cans.
    Do it a bit at a time, people, and it won’t be a problem! :)

  16. I like it… but I have a couple of suggestions with regard to your safety interlock on the door.

    Risk occurs if the ram should stick in the extended position, and somebody opens the lid to try to free it. If it suddenly came loose, one should smash their fingers behind the retreating ram.

    A better inlock behavior is that when the door is open, the ram shouldn’t be able to move in in either direction.

    My second suggestion has to do with the implementation of interlocks. I don’t trust fail safes that rely on the proper functioning of software in order to work. The interlock should open dry contacts independent of whatever your processor is doing.

  17. I’m thinking of a flat disc with a can sized baffle sticking up from it, that can move up and down through the disc on a spring. Then, a wedge is placed upside down on top of the disc so that as it turns, the baffle is pushed down.

    A small gap is left between the wedge and the disc, so that if you drop a can in front of the baffle, it gets crushed and pops out from the gap. Then a simple guide rail drops it to the side.

    All you need then is a feeding tube that drops cans on the disc where they get pulled along and squeezed through the gap.

  18. Jeff – if I was a kid I would try opening the lid and sticking something in the extended ram while it retracts (probably not my fingers…). Still seems safer to kill the ram rather than retract it.

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