Do you ever sit around thinking of ways to repurpose things in your house? Well [BevCanTech] found a way to recycle some of his empty beverage cans by turning them into homemade wire.
The premise is simple. He cut 2 mm thick strips of wire from the beverage can along its circumference, creating a thin, long “wire” spool. He sanded the ends of each strip to crimp pieces of his homemade wire together. He found he could get about four meters from a standard-sized beverage can, probably roughly 12 oz, as he unraveled the can. He then used crimp connectors to connect his homemade wires to the battery terminals and also to the end of a flashlight. He used a red cap from another can as a pseudo light diffuser and lampshade, creating a pretty cool, almost lava lamp-like glow.
Maybe the meat of this project won’t be as filling as your Thanksgiving meal, but hopefully, it can serve as a bit of inspiration for your next freeform circuit design. Though you’ll probably want to smooth those sharp edges along your homemade wire.
Wind turbines are a fantastic, cheap, renewable source of energy. However, nothing lasts forever, and over time, the blades of wind turbines fatigue and must be replaced. This then raises the question of what to do with these giant waste blades. Thankfully, a variety of projects are exploring just those possibilities.
A Difficult Recycling Problem
Around 85% of a modern wind turbine is recyclable. The problem is that wind turbine blades currently aren’t. The blades last around 20 to 25 years, and are typically made of fiberglass or carbon fiber. Consisting of high-strength fibers set in a resin matrix, these composite materials are incredibly difficult to recycle, as we’ve discussed previously. Unlike metals or plastics, they can’t just be melted down to be recast as fresh material. Couple this with the fact that wind turbine blades are huge, often spanning up to 300 feet long, and the problem gets harder. They’re difficult and expensive to transport and tough to chop up as well.
Continue reading “Can We Repurpose Old Wind Turbine Blades?”
Empty spools from 3D printer filament are the kind of thing that begs to be repurposed, and one option is [3d-printy]’s vertical filament spool parts drawer design. The way this solution works is by using the spool to hold twelve vaguely pie-shaped drawers that can be individually unlocked and removed entirely, which makes accessing their contents (or dumping them out) much easier. This method requires the spools to be oriented vertically, so it ends up handling a bit like a Rolodex.
One downside of the design is that it requires two inserts to be installed on the inside of the spool walls, which act as guide rails and lock points for the drawers. Another is that managing a vertical spool can be a bit awkward, given its lack of flat surfaces. Happily, there is an option for a matching stand that not only provides a flat base, but keeps any accidentally-unlocked drawers from falling out and spilling their contents.
The project files are OpenSCAD files, which allows easy customization for different spool manufacturers and dimensions, and [3d-printy] provides measurements for some common ones. Another nice element of this design is that no single part uses more than 30 grams of filament, which makes printing them an attractive way to use up the last bits of filament rolls.
We’ve seen drawer-style storage for filament spools before, but haven’t seen a design quite like this one before. Watch an overview of the drawer design as well as the spool holders in the videos, embedded below.
Continue reading “A New Spin On Empty Filament Spools For Part Storage”
The longevity of plastic is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s extremely durable, inexpensive, and easy to work with, but it also doesn’t biodegrade and lasts indefinitely in the environment when not disposed of properly. While this can mean devastating impacts to various ecosystems, it can also be a benefit if you happen to pick this plastic up and also happen to have a laser cutter around.
After cleaning and sorting plastic that they had found from various places, including scraps from a 3D printing facility, the folks at [dinalab] set about turning waste plastic into something that would be usable once more. After sorting it they shredded it and then melted it into sheets. They found that a sandwich press yielded the best results, as it kept the plastic at a low enough temperature to keep it from burning. Once its off of the press and properly cooled, the flat sheets of plastic can be sent to the laser cutter to be made into whatever useful thing they happen to need.
Not only does this process reuse plastic that would otherwise end up in the landfill (or worse, the ocean), it can also reuse plastic from itself since the scraps can be re-melted back into sheets. Plastic does lose some of its favorable material properties with repeated heat cycles, but we’d have to imagine this is negligible for the types of things that [dinalab] is creating. Of course, you can always skip the heat cycles entirely and turn waste plastic directly into 3D printer filament instead.
Continue reading “Discarded Plastic Laser-Cut And Reassembled”
There’s more than one way to make a mechanical macro pad, and this wooden wonder represents one of our favorites. [Tauno Erik] had an old rubber dome rectangle keyboard lying around that still worked, but the poor thing was missing some of its caps. After salvaging the controller, [Tauno Erik] got to work on the tedious task of figuring out the mapping of the matrix, which was made easier with a Python script.
Almost every component of this beauty is wood, including the mounting plate and those thicc and lovely keycaps — their top layer is solid oak, and the bottom bit is birch plywood. In order to interface the ‘caps with the switches, [Tauno Erik] designed and printed connector pieces that sit inside the extra large keycaps and accept the stems of the key switches.
Speaking of switches, we’re not sure if [Tauno Erik] ended up using Cherry green switches, browns, or a mix of both (that would be interesting), but each one is mounted on a custom PCB along with a diode and a pull-up resistor. You can see more build pictures at [Tauno Erik]’s site, and stick around for a visual tour of the completed build after the break.
Wood is a great choice for keycaps, and we imagine they’ll only look better with age and use. A more common use for wood on a keyboard build is in surprisingly comfortable wrist rests.
If you have a pile of old VHS tapes collecting dust in your attic or basement that you know you’ll never watch again, either because all of those movies are available on DVD or a streaming service, or because you haven’t had a working VCR since 2003, there might be a way of putting them to good use in another way. With the miles of tape available in just a few cassettes, [Brother] aka [Andrew] shows us how to use that tape as filament for a 3D printer. (Video, embedded below.)
The first step of the build is to actually create the filament. He uses a purpose-built homemade press to spin several tapes into one filament similar to how cotton or flax is spun into yarn. From there the filament is simply fed into the 3D printer and put to work. The tape filament needs to be heated higher than a standard 3D printer filament so he prints at a much slower rate, but the resulting product is indistinguishable from a normal print except for the color. It has some other interesting properties as well, such as retaining its magnetism from the magnetic tape, and being a little more brittle than PET plastic although it seems to be a little stronger.
While the VHS filament might not be a replacement for all plastic 3D prints, it’s still a great use for something that would likely otherwise head straight to the landfill. There are some other uses for this magnetic tape as well, like if you wanted to build a DIY particle accelerator.
Continue reading “3D Printing With VHS Tape Filament”
A crewed mission to the International Space Station that was set to depart from Kennedy Space Center on Halloween has been pushed back at least several weeks as NASA and SpaceX investigate an issue with the company’s Merlin rocket engine. But the problem in question wasn’t actually discovered on the booster that’s slated to carry the four new crew members up to the orbiting outpost. This story starts back on October 2nd, when the computer aboard a Falcon 9 set to carry a next-generation GPS III satellite into orbit for the US Space Force shut down the engines with just two seconds to go before liftoff.
The fact that SpaceX and NASA have decided to push back the launch of a different Falcon 9 is a clear indication that the issue isn’t limited to just one specific booster, and must be a problem with the design or construction of the Merlin engine itself. While both entities have been relatively tight lipped about the current situation, a Tweet from CEO Elon Musk made just hours after the GPS III abort hinted the problem was with the engine’s gas generator:
As we’ve discussed previously, the Merlin is what’s known as an “open cycle” rocket engine. In this classical design, which dates back to the German V-2 of WWII, the exhaust from what’s essentially a smaller and less efficient rocket engine is used to spin a turbine and generate the power required to pump the propellants into the main combustion chamber. Higher than expected pressure in the gas generator could lead to a catastrophic failure of the turbine it drives, so it’s no surprise that the Falcon 9’s onboard systems determined an abort was in order.
Grounding an entire fleet of rockets because a potentially serious fault has been discovered in one of them is a rational precaution, and has been done many times before. Engineers need time to investigate the issue and determine if changes must be made on the rest of the vehicles before they can safely return to flight. But that’s where things get interesting in this case.
SpaceX hasn’t grounded their entire fleet of Falcon 9 rockets. In fact, the company has flown several of them since the October 2nd launch abort. So why are only some of these boosters stuck in their hangers, while others are continuing to fly their scheduled missions?
Continue reading “Engine Trouble Delays SpaceX’s Return To The ISS”