Pneumatic Can Crusher Awaits Your Command

A powerful robot awaiting for a verbal command to crush its foes might sound like something from a science fiction film, but now it’s a permanent fixture of the [Making Stuff] garage.  (Video, embedded below.) Thankfully this robot’s sworn enemy are aluminum cans, and the person controlling it with their voice isn’t a maniacal scientist, just a guy who’s serious about recycling. Well, we hope so anyway.

The star of the show is a heavy duty wall-mounted can crusher that [Making Stuff] built from some scrap steel and a pneumatic cylinder hooked up to the garage’s compressed air system. A solenoid operated valve allows an Arduino with attached ESP-01 to extend the cylinder whenever the appropriate command comes over the network. In this case, the goal was to tie the crusher into Google Assistant so a can would get smallified whenever one of Google’s listening devices heard the trigger phrase.

Note the ejector air line.

Obviously, those who’d rather keep Big Data out of their recycling bin don’t have to go down the same path. But that being said, having to give a specific voice command to activate the machine does provide a certain level of operational safety. At least compared to trusting some eBay sensor to tell the difference between an aluminum can and a fleshy appendage.

After crushing a few cans with his new toy, [Making Stuff] noticed a fairly troubling flaw in the design. Each time a can was crushed he had to reach into the maw of the machine to push its little flattened carcass out of the way. In other words, he was one bad line of code away from having one good hand.

The solution ended up being a new hose that runs from the exhaust port of the valve to the crushing chamber: once the cylinder retracts, the air exiting the valve pushes the crushed can out the rear of the machine and into a waiting pail underneath. Very slick.

Even if you’re not interested in the voice control aspect, this is a great design to base your own can crusher on. While it’s always a treat when a fully automatic crusher comes our way, we’ll admit the challenges of getting one to work reliably probably aren’t worth the hassle.

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A Fully Automatic Electric Can Crusher

Those of us who recycle our empty drink cans know the annoying storage problem these containers present. For an object with very little metal, a can takes up a huge amount of space, and should you possess a greater than average thirst you can soon end up with a lot of space taken up with stacks of cans. The solution of course is to crush them, and while there are many simple solutions involving hinged blocks of wood or lever systems, this is 2019! We have Machines to that kind of thing for us! [All Things Electro-Mechanical] thinks so anyway, for he has created an automatic can crusher that is a joy to behold.

At its heart is a 120V AC powered linear actuator, which crushes a can held in a welded steel guide. As the can is crushed it drops into a waiting bin, and when the actuator retracts a fresh can drops down from a hopper. Control is handled by a Raspberry Pi, and there are end sensors for the actuator and an optical sensor for the can hopper. As it stands, once the last can is in place the machine stops due to the optical sensor registering no can in the hopper, but no doubt a software change could cause it to execute a single crush cycle after the last can it detects.

This machine would be an ideal candidate for a simple industrial automation system, but however it is controlled it would save its owner from an embarrassing test of strength. Take a look, we’ve posted the two videos showing it in action below the break.

Thanks [Baldpower] for the tip.

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Hackaday Links: November 9, 2014

After many years of searching, [Dan Wood] finally got his hands on something he’s wanted for the past twenty-two years: an Amiga 4000. No, it’s not the queen bee of Amiga land – that honor would fall to the 68060-equipped 4000T, but [Dan]’s 4000 is decked out. It has a 256MB RAM expansion, Ethernet, USB, and a Picasso IV graphics card that gives it better resolution and color depth than most modern laptops.

[Pistonpedal] has a fully automatic pneumatic can crusher that is far too cool to be wasted on a case of Keystone. A funnel at the top guides the cans in to be crushed one at a time and ejected into a garbage can underneath. Great for recycling.

Coming over from ‘normal’ programming into the world of embedded development? [AndreJ] has the AVR C Macro for you. It’s a great way to get away from all those ~=, |=, and &=s that don’t make any sense at all.

[CNLohr] has a reputation for running Minecraft servers on things that don’t make any sense at all. The latest build is a light up redstone ore block equipped with an ESP8266 WiFi chip.

Oh, the Hackaday overlords and underlings are in Munich for this little shindig we’re doing. If you in town for Electronica come on down. If you have a copy of Neil Young’s Trans, bring it to the party.

Tymkrs’ Deconstruction For The Zombie Apocalypse

tmker

We’ve seen a few of the projects from The Deconstruction, a 48-hour build-a-thon for hackerspaces and other groups around the globe. Of course Tymkrs, a pair of geeky vloggers famous for their building prowess, were part of The Deconstruction, and in the process they came up with a few really cool builds at their hackerspace, The Rabbit Hole, in Rochester, MN.

Their theme for The Deconstruction was “a zombie apocalypse”. Instead of homemade crossbows and electric fences, Tymkrs and the rest of The Rabbit Hole put a ‘rebuilding society’ spin on the whole zombie apocalypse and ended up building things that would be useful after Z-day.

First up is a PVC bike trailer designed to easily attach to the back of a bicycle. The frame is made out of a few pieces of 2″ PVC pipe with some nylon rope knotted together for a nice webbed platform. a 5/8″ steel rod was turned down to accept two 20″ bike wheels. A useful build, even if it’s not the zombie apocalypse.

The second build is a solar japanese lantern, combining [Addie]’s love of solar lanterns and japanese-style lanterns into one great project. The materials for this build came from a broken solar-powered lantern with completely revamped electronics. There’s a Joule thief to keep the LED lit, and a few solar panels to charge up the batteries during the day. Of course the build wasn’t complete without a little decoration, so [Addie] drew four panels of rabbits for The Rabbit Hole team.

By far the most dangerous build undertaken by The Rabbit Hole is their can crusher. It’s a pair of snowblower tires powered by a disused garage door opener. The theory of operations is that a can will drop in between the rotating wheels, crushing the can, and sending it to a waste basket below the device. In practice, the device didn’t really live up to expectations, but it’s loud and dangerous, so we’ll give it a pass.

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.

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