Connected Can Crusher: C^3

This project aims to provide encouragement for recycling through social media and a strong "coolness" factor.

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I have designed and built a functioning pneumatic soda can crusher. It was created earlier this year for a Senior AP Physics project, along with the Hackaday Prize in mind.

Other than being a cool way to get people into hardware that is more "heavy duty" than the normal garage project, the can crusher also serves a purpose. For example, when people are over and soda gets drunk, I always take them to the can crusher. By the end of the night everybody wants to use it, and instead of a lot of half empty cans that make their way to the trash (vs. the recycle bin), I have a 5 gallon bucket of perfectly crushed cans that are ready to be dumped into the recycle bin. This greatly reduces the amount of reuable metals going into a landfill.

I already have all of the mechanics, and much of the electronics already working. Embedded into the slide of the pneumatic piston that is used as the ram is a magnetic quadrature encoder as seen below:

This, coupled with a strain gauge, can provide total work needed to crush a can. I have a detailed explanation of this at the end of the video Linked at the left. 

Since I began working on this project, I have wanted to make it Internet connected. I am heading off the engineering school the next few weeks, and hope to bring my can crusher with me at some point shortly after that. By adding a "social" aspect to the can crusher, I hope to be able to inspire more friends and peers to recycle and consciously think about where their waste is going, one can at a time.

I plan to use a Raspberry Pi to Tweet the total volume saved in landfills (hypothetically) by using the linear sensor to measure how much each can was crushed, and calculate volume from that. I will also be able to add other useful information such as work needed to crush a can, total cans crushed in a time frame, etc.

I plan to make my design open source in hopes that other people will follow me and create connected recycling initiatives.

  • 1 × Parallax Propeller Protoboard (USB) Main Microcontroller
  • 1 × AMS AS5304 w/ Adafruit SMT adaper board Magnetic Linear Encoder: Accurate to 1/40th of a mm! Wow!
  • 1 × 200 Kg Button Load Cell
  • 1 × 8020 1515 Lite Extrusion (Lots of it) See mechanical drawigns for exact amount
  • 1 × 8020 1530 Lite Extrusion 23"

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  • Current State

    Adam Wiesler08/21/2014 at 03:03 0 comments

    Currently, after a busy summer I have the machine working reliably, and all mechanics are finished. All that is left is to program a Raspberry Pi to tweet information and statistics on the use of the machine (the main reason I built it for! (also because its pretty neat to watch, it has a very macho feeling to it :-P )) I hope to finish and document this in the next couple weeks before I leave for school. So much to do!

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  • 1
    Step 1

    It should be noted that this project, to be replicated closely, will require a mill of some sort, along with varying other tools. I will not go into very deep detail on the mechanical creation because everyone has their own methodology. Here are the general steps to follow however.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Download and understand all design files as best as you can. Figure out what you need to order and what you already have, and how to adapt for your specific tools. I used my DIY CNC router that has a 2.2 kW spindle on it, which I highly recommend  if you are currently using a wood router. You could also use a manual mill, with a table saw for the HDPE, but I would not reccomend.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Order as many pieces as possible.

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