VCR Centrifuge

VCR’s practically scream “tear me open!” with all those shiny, moving parts and a minimal risk that you’re going to damage a piece of equipment that someone actually cares about. Once you’ve broken in, why not hack it into a centrifuge like [Kymyst]? Separating water from the denser stuff doesn’t require lab-grade equipment. As [Kymyst] explains: you can get a force of 10 G just spinning something around your head. By harvesting some belt drives from a few VCR’s, however, he built this safer, arm-preserving motor-driven device.

[Kymst] dissected the video head rotor and cassette motor drive down to a bare minimum of parts which were reassembled in a stack. A bored-out old CD was attached beneath the rotor while a large plastic bowl was bolted onto the CD. The bowl–here a microwave cooking cover–acts as a protective barrier against the tubes spinning inside. The tube carriers consist of plastic irrigation tubing fitted with a homemade trunnion, which [Kymyst] fashioned from some self-tapping screws and a piece of PVC. At 250 rpm, this centrifuge reaches around 6 G and best of all, gives a VCR something to do again. Take a look at his guide and make your own, particularly if your hackerspace has a bio lab.

33 thoughts on “VCR Centrifuge

    1. Michio Kaku taught anyone on the Internet willing to read how to make them without a whole lot of centrifuging. Still, most people don’t have them, and IMO Iran knows the region’s weather patterns better than to start something they won’t be able to finish.

      1. I can’t find anything with Google on Michio Kaku having told people how to make nuclear weapons, or enrich any isotopes with or without centrifugation, except a YouTube video (not text) from May 7 of this year (not 2013 or earlier) where, according to my interpretation of the part of the title the Google results page shows, he describes laser enrichment. That video is only 1 minute long, so it can’t be very in-depth.

        And, just in case anybody reading the jokes here doesn’t know, you don’t enrich uranium with a biology lab centrifuge like this, or even a high-end one, and there’s no prohibition on owning them or telling people in hostile countries how to make them (AFAIK). You need gas centrifuges—many of them. Gas centrifuges capable of uranium enrichment, and the metal they’re made from, maraging steel, are regulated. (If you build them anyway, then maybe the US and Israel will team up to make a computer virus that will destroy them by tricking them into spinning too fast (Stuxnet). In the US, IIRC, you’re only allowed to make something like 50 or 100 lbs of maraging steel per year without reporting it.)

    2. Too late!

      I’m from Iran and now I know how to convert VCRs to centrifuges. I’ll use them to make peaceful atomic bombs! Please don’t judge Iranian people by their government.

      FYI, about 10-15 years ago, owning a VCR was illegal here in Iran, as owning satellite receivers are still illegal. Hackaday is inaccessible in Iran because of the word “hack” in it! Do you see what idiots are running our country?

      1. You’re too kind, thanks. I didn’t say I put a whole lot of miles on my VCR anymore. It’s not bad when I do run it though. I have it hooked up with that composite video cable, so when I watch it I think it looks good. I can buy VCR tapes in thrift stores for 25 cents a piece now.

    1. But do you care about *his* VCR? Do you think most people are interested in keeping their old VCRs around? I don’t think it’s an unreasonable comment to make, and come on… you have to be trying to take offense to that.

  1. Interesting that people aren’t making these out of washing machines…
    It has a nice heavy-duty bearing, the samples can be much further from the center, that combined with the fact most of them are capable of 1000+ rpm gives you tens of Gs instead of several.
    Also, it has a double walled debris shield already in place ;-)

  2. 1. the vcr is so cheap that you find the combined with the dvd player and even a tv and if you live in a university town you can get them from the dumpsters of apartment complexes.

    best time is in around graduation day and around the finals.

    2. the brushless motor that spins the drum happens to have the driver chip on board so you can connect to it and use the video drum as is.

    if the motor isnt powerful enough you could remove the driver board and use an rc esc to drive it.

    the only thing you do have to be careful about is the power supply as there is a main voltage capacitor that can still have a charge in it so handle the board with care.

    if you have a electronics repair shop they may be able to get you a junk vcr.

    like i said they are so cheap most people throw them out when they quit working.

    1. A BLDC motor from an 1/8 scale RC car (30,000 RPM at 15v no load, derated to 15,000 RPM for safety and heat dissipation) with an 80mm diameter sample holder + rotor, if well balanced, should get you 10k RCF though your sample tubes would have to be itty-bitty, probably still bigger than the VCR ones.

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