Posts tagged: scavenging

Jun 09 2012

Couple of days wombling

So to reward myself for throwing out a bunch of shit, I went out and collected a bunch more shit.

Marquee tent fabric and some stripy sunscreen fabric

Large duct fan, lighting ballast, circuit tester

Bunch of laptop screens, some heatsinks, couple of gears

White Electrolux hoover (now dismanted)

Office light fitting, and again with emergency power battery

Combo printer, scanner, copier FAX MACHINE

Black & Decker strimmer

Disposable helium cylinder

And (on a technicality) a Zanusi fridge-freezer


The bulk came from a house up the road and I had a chat with the owner, so I knew most of it’s dead for it’s original purpose. Though of course I don’t know if that’s dead-dead or uneconomic-to-repair-dead..

Anyway, fabric may be used in a couple of costumes.

Duct fan has a dead motor. Already pulled it apart. AC outrunner motor, part of insulation is melted. Irreparable. May be able to replace motor, but tricky.

Ballast & circuit-tester, both fried, but ballast is fancy and may have internal parts salvagable, the tester may make a nice tiny enclosure.

Laptop screens have already been stripped down. They were very wet, but I only wanted the angled diffuser plastic anyway. May be used for a costume. Saved the EEE PC screen tho.

Heatsinks are usefully generic, but also big chunks of aluminium.

Hoover was from another place, apparently a bad switch. It wasn’t, it was full of fluff. SOLIDLY. And had been in the rain, so some had turned to clay. Also smelt of baby-puke. Stripped it down wearing gloves. De-fluffed motor and fan, tested it and it works. Earmarked that for vacuum-former project. Left housing to soak in disinfectant and hosed it down. The white plastic casing will likely be used for my pseudo-GlaDOS build.

One light fitting has a nice cast heatsink. May be useful for something. The glass looks nice. A bit Personality Core “Eye”, but will see (lol pun). The other has the big battery pack. Will see how functional that is and how/if it can be repurposed.

Combo printer will be torn down for the usual steppers, belts and steel rod and any bronze bushings.

The strimmer apparently just has a broken drive belt which the owner couldn’t replace except at silly cost. If I have one that fits I’ll return it to him, otherwise I’ll tear it down but I’m unsure what useful bits I’ll get from it.

The helium cylinder is about 9.5″ in diameter so I think it’s about the right size needed to make a chamber for the Hackspace vacuum coater/chamber. It’s technically a bit undersized, but it has the benefit over converting a propane cylinder of 1) Not having been filled with an explosive gas 2) Already having a hole in, so it’s definitely not under pressure 3) Being free and here already. ;P

The fridge-freezer is a technicality. My aunt was getting rid of it, so my mother brought it back with her on her recent trip to Sommerset. It’s the same age as my current fridge, but bigger and probably in better condition. So I increase food storage and decreas floor-space used. Only niggle is it’s going to have to go outside the kitchen in the “conservatory” to fit. Since it lay in the bus for a couple of days, leaving it standing for a day upright before turning it on again.

Apr 25 2011

A reason why they’re cheap

I found another couple of battery drills being thrown out last week. One Power Devil and one McKeller.

The Power Devil is the usual bottom-rung battery drill, though looks like it’s been fitted with a replacement chuck.

I opened up the battery pack, and it was pretty much what I expected.

Mostly empty.

The McKeller on the other hand was much nicer and more powerful. However neither drill had a charger unit, so they’ve both been stripped down to motor and gearbox. I’m thinking they could be good for making a reasonably powerful robot arm.

The chucks on all of them attach with a 24tpi UNF thread. I might have to belt-gear them down, but then again PWM control would probably be fine and simpler to attach.

Apr 09 2011

New workshop PC

While it’s probably nothing special to many, I’m very glad when I can aquire replacement computer hardware. Especially when it’s free and in a better state than my existing stuff.

For a little while now, the workshop PC had been running on it’s secondary IDE channels only. It was a 1.8Ghz  P4, but with USB 1.0 and PC133 RAM. It crawled at most things and took a few minutes to start with little to load. It also didn’t cooperate well with the PS3 Eye camera I picked up a few months ago. The memory bus was slow enough it choked even once I got a dedicated USB 2.0 card for it.

Some kind soul donated a bunch of used machines to the London Hackspace a fortnight ago. Mostly older Dell machines and a few oddities. Nothing that could be expanded much (except the 5000 which got re-purposed by the space itself). After examining a few I selected to re-home a Dell Dimension 4550 with an 80Gb HDD.

Dell Dimension 4550


The case was marked as having a 31Gb drive, but I don’t know where that number came from.

I got it home and pulled it apart. Got it cleaned of dust and fluff and found some leaky caps on the mainboard, hidden under a cowling. They got replaced with some caps I pulled from some obsolete server gear some time back.

Bad bad caps, no motherboard for you!

After running it for a few hours on the original RAM, I started upgrading. I’d already replaced the epoxy(???) thermal pad with some good thermal grease. I had some 400Mhz DDR sticks around, which fortunately worked (though underclocked) even though the machine is spec’d for 266Mhz. That got the RAM up to 756Mb.

The official spec says the machine can take 1Gb of RAM, but it can actually take 2Gb. There’s just only two RAM slots.

All clear after the transplant

I swapped in the best AGP x4 card I had (which came from the former workshop machine; a GeForce MX4000 128Mb),  put in a better optical drive (which was capable of opening when the case was on it’s side, unlike the original), the USB 2.0 PCI card (because the PS3 Eye apparently needs an entire USB controller to itself) and added an extra hard-disk.

I spent a few hours transferring files around to get all the data from the previous two workshop machines onto this one, then juggled some more while I formatted one drive to do a clean install, then transfer data across and format the other. The 80Gb disk that was already in it was reporting some bad sectors in SMART, so it’s been relegated to the D-drive/storage-disk where I’ll stuff music and video capture files. Non-critical stuff.

(Yes, I’ll be annoyed if I loose a long capture, but I’ll probably just get some corruption rather than losing a file outright.)

The machine’s primary 80Gb was partitioned in two again for dual-booting. I got XP Home installed on one since I couldn’t find the old machine’s XP Pro key certificate and the Dell case already had a Home key sticker. I’ll get round to installing Ubuntu on the other partition once I decide which version to go with. 10.10 I didn’t like much.

It’s now in the workshop, running fine on the extra workbench I built last week. The PS3 Eye works fine with it and I’ve managed to successful do a test Livestream with it and record video to disk (though still need to find some on-the-fly compression that’ll work with the camera format).

Installed in place

It’s also whisper-quiet! :D

Only annoyance is the front-panel lights are barely visible. They’re so dim you have to kneel in front of it and concentrate to tell they’re on. If I get a free moment I *may* try to replace them with better LEDs, but for such a minor thing it’s really not worth it. If I really need to know if the HDD is running, I’ll be willing to bend over to see.

An additional bonus has been realising the old PC’s case is perfect for another project! My hope to build a desk from all that mahogany I have was also one to have a PC installed directly within the desk’s structure. The old case was riveted together with a motherboard tray held in with screws! A few minutes with the drill and I have the rear of the case with all the needed mounts and the tray to mount a motherboard on! I can plan more about the future desk around these parts. :)

Feb 08 2011

Scavenging log

Friday 4th, Friday Hill recycling center

Rolled leather hammer and cross-peen hammer. 20p.

Sighted a lawnmower sans-engine with exposed drive pulleys. Slightly too burried under a sofa-bed frame to reach or extract. Shame.

Located small bag of bolts. Insigifigant to them, so got for free. Turns out has some welding bits in. Copper rollers, massive earthing braid, some rolled steel pins.. Also two bits of phenolic board held together with wing-nuts. May be a flower-press.

Saturday 5th, Friday Hill recycling center

Arrived 20min from closing. Rushed around and found a silver steel wood auger (7/8″),  an octagonal bread plate (matches one I have already), a brass door pull with a fun latch mechanism (should be easy to fix/reproduce), a pair of soft-close drawer runners, a kitchen pot hanging rail, and 4 alloy bike pedals.

Pic includes hammers from the friday

On the way home I also found someone chucking out some old bike wheels, one with a Sturmy Archer hub gear. Cleaned up turns out it’s a 1948 Model “AM” gear set. According to Sheldon Brown, that’s a rare type from old British “club bikes”. So will try to sell instead now. May be of use to someone doing an accurate restoration or such.

Alloy pedals aren’t of immediate use. One pair is a high-spec Crank Brothers 5050X set, but very chewed up and missing one of it’s plates (that you don’t seem able to buy separately). The other alloy set is of no current use, one missing it’s spindle. The 5050 seems to use a very short spindle tho, so stripped of the plates and studs (basically grub screws. Handy) I should be able to cut the pedals down to be narrower and use the threaded holes to attatch the “horse legs” to the unicycle cranks on the proposed art-trike.

Sunday 6th, London Hackspace

During the (excellent) party, was informed it was ok for anyone to rummage through the “rubbish” boxes. These are boxes where odds and ends people find and donate are put. If no one takes them in 3 weeks, they go in the skip (and often back out and back into the boxes as someone freshly “discovers” them there).

After a couple of beers, felt comfortable rummaging as others were and found a tiny blacksmiths vice, a robot insect, a usb card reader with no cable (soldered one on while there. Tested at home. Detected, but very broken.), a colour security camera with IR lamp removed, and a tiny 5mm square camera module (probably from a phone. Probably useless, but so cute.).

Will have to fix up the trailer or something. If it’s okay, I have a lot of things that are too good to throw away but that I’ll never use that I could donate to the Hackspace. And probably a number of other things I could happily give on extended loan (like the homebrew equipment).

Jan 10 2011

“Got wood?” Well, yes, rather a lot.

I found a wee bit more wood on Saturday morning and hauled it home.

That’s right, another Honduras Mahogany staircase. Almost the same distance from our house as the last one was, but in the opposite direction.

But look carefully! This one’s been pulled out mostly intact! The other one sadly had most of the reads cut in half to rip it out, so few usable planks. These are also mounted differently, so there’s fewer holes. Means when it comes time to trim them up and biscuit them together into one large surface, there shouldn’t be as much wastage.

Gotta love people pulling out these from their 70s loft extensions.

Does mean I’ve got to spend another day pulling wood apart and removing duff nails & screws, but for such nice recycled timber I can accept that!

I should have ample wood at my disposal now I can do tests first and stop worrying about cutting design-corners to accommodate unpleasant off-cuts.

Plus look at those meaty long beams the treads are planted on. Provided those metal risers don’t go in too far, that’s going to be wonderful for something. Certainly not making the desk, but something.

Is it bad to think about making a Saint Andrew’s Cross out of them? I’m told they sell for three figures. And with mahogany expensive to buy these days, I would have thought it’d sell.

One project at a time though!

It’d been in the rain a bit, but it’s a hardwood so doesn’t seem to have soaked up much especially in the cold weather. It’s under cover now. Small bits have been moved through and I’ll try to break up the rest to move through the maze of the house early in the week.

The metal risers look like brass. Will have to see. They may come in handy later too.

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