October 2019 - Trash Eating Robots and Where to Find Them

A project log for The Metabolizer

A living recycling center that eats trash and sunshine and poops recycled plastic objects

Sam SmithSam Smith 10/26/2021 at 02:110 Comments

[UPDATE 10/21/2021 -After 2018 I started posting my updates on my Patreon page, and so I'm filling in the back-logs for this project retroactively so the whole story is in both places. You can also read all of these posts with their original photo formatting here]

October 31st, 2019

Hello Dear Patrons! 

Thank you for supporting the development of open-source trash-eating robots! This has been a crazy month and a lot has happened! In the first week of October, Claire and I set off on a 3-week West Coast tour in the Magic Tool Bus. First, we landed at Arcosanti in Arizona for their 3rd Convergence event. 

There we did a demo of the Trash Printer, and I made my first ever "print" using HDPE and a new extruder design. 

Unfortunately, as with all first drafts, the design needs more work to be consistent, but this is at least a promising first step!

Next, we headed out to the Ecosa Institute for Ecological Design, where I did a talk on open-source distributed infrastructure!

Last week, we presented the Metabolizer at the Institute for the Future's "Age of distributed super powers" conference, which was a blast!

Our exhibit wasn't open until the big reveal on the second day of the conference, so I spent most of the first day tuning and calibrating the printer. I had been having some annoying motor issues, which I finally diagnosed as faulty wiring, and I rebuild the wiring harness, and it worked much better, just in time. I was able to print my first fully functional part: A wind/water turbine that I attached to a stepper motor so it would light up LEDs when it spins.

Now that the printer is working better, I'm going to focus on content production over the course of November, and work on posting educational media that teaches folks how to build the Trash Printer, since my existing documentation is still a little thin. Now that I know what works, it's time to make better documentation!

Stay tuned for more updates next month! And please share this link if you would be so kind!