Hackaday Prize 2022: Turning Big Box Trash Into Art Student Treasure

How can the big box store mix the perfect shade of English Wedgwood right before your eyes? The answer is in highly-concentrated pigments that come in many different sizes up to a whopping five gallons. Now, just imagine the amount of watercolor, acrylic, or other types of paint that could be made by simply scraping the walls of an empty 5-gallon tub, which you know is just getting thrown away with all that usable pigment inside.

Not only is [technoplastique] making watercolors and other paints out of these pigments, but their true focus is on creating an easily-reproducible process for turning not just pigments into paint, but other things as well, like dried turmeric, charcoal, or any other feasible material.

The process will likely take the form of an open-source three-roller milling machine, which are commonly used in paint manufacture. Basically you have three rollers that process the pigment and binder, and the mixture is run through as many times as necessary. Although they are fairly simple machines in design, building them to work well requires adherence to precise technical specs.

We can’t wait to see what [technoplastique] comes up with to use for the stainless steel rollers. The rest of the plan involves a Raspberry Pi Pico, one DC motor per roller, a motor shield, and a power supply, but the rollers are pretty crucial. If you have any ideas other than steel rolling pins (the kitchen kind) or pipe couplings (which are too short, anyway), let us know in the comments!

Bend Some Bars With A Flywheel

The ability to look at a pile of trash, and see the for treasure is a skill we hold in high regard around here. [Meanwhile in the Garage] apparently has this skill in spades and built himself a metal bar bending machine using an old flywheel and starter pinion gear.

To bend metal using muscle power alone requires some sort of mechanical advantage. Usually this involves a bending tool with a long lever, but [Meanwhile in the Garage] decided to make use of the large gear ratio between a car’s starter motor and the flywheel it drives. This does away with the need for a long lever and allows bending to almost 270° with a larger radius. Lathe and milling work features quite prominently, including to make the bend formers, drive shaft and bushings and to modify the flywheel to include a clamp. The belt sander that is used to finish a number of the parts is also his creation. While the machine tools definitely helped, a large amount of creativity and thinking outside the box made this project possible and worth the watch.

We’ve featured a number of scrap-built tools including a milling machine, sheet metal hole punch and a hydraulic bench vice. Keep them coming!

Scrap Wood And Metal Combined For DIY Mecanum Wheels

Some scrap wood, a few pieces of sheet metal, a quartet of old gear motors, and a few basic hand tools. That’s all it takes to build an omni-bot with Mecanum wheels, if you’ve got a little know-how too.

For the uninitiated, Mecanum wheels can rotate in any direction thanks to a series of tapered rollers around the circumference that are canted 45° relative to the main axle.  [Navin Khambhala]’s approach to Mecanum wheel construction is decidedly low tech and very labor intensive, but results in working wheels and a pretty agile bot. The supports for the rollers are cut from sheet steel and bent manually to hold the wooden rollers, each cut with a hole saw and tapered to a barrel shape on a makeshift lathe. Each wheel is connected directly to a gear motor shaft, and everything is mounted to a sheet steel chassis. The controls are as rudimentary as the construction methods, but the video below shows what a Mecanum-wheeled bot can do.

There’s a lot of room here for improvement, but mainly in the manufacturing methods. The entire wheel could be 3D printed, for instance, or even laser cut from MDF with a few design changes. But [Navin] scores a win for making a working wheel and a working bot from almost nothing.

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