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Arduino Controlled Can Crusher With LCD Readout.

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I have always wanted to do an instructable, but I never had a somewhat original idea that hasn't been done a million times, or something that had no means of building. I have some friends who recycle aluminum for money and after seeing the large bags of an unknown amount and weight of uncrushed cans, I decided to make a machine that would crush the cans, count the cans, and tell the weight of the number of cans that it has crushed. I searched the internet and have found no machines that count the cans that have been crushed or tells the weight of the total crushed weight and could also be made from low cost and recycled materials. 

Once I knew that this was a one of a kind idea, I drew up a rough plan on google sketchup to act as a starting schematic. I wanted to build the main chasis out of wood using mostly handtools so anyone could build one without a wood shop. The actuator (the crushing part) is driven by a old windshield wiper motor that my dad had laying arround, attached to two threaded rods by a belt and pulley system.  There was an arduino that was sitting arround the house doing nothing, so there was no question that that would be the brains. 
 
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I've skimmed through all the pages and I still have no idea what the basic operation of this device is. A diagram of how it works (mechanically) would improve the presentation and usefulness. I'm not going to spend an hour reading the whole thing and squinting at the dark photos to see if this is worth pursuing.

tjdux made it!3 months ago

Seriously great instructible. One of many that I have been using to help kick start my way into arduino. I actually found this via google search when trying to find DIY can crusher plans. My can crusher is much humbler design. In fact its as simple as a "Machine" can be. Almost a polar opposite that is means to the same end, but a remix is a remix.

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MRHint (author)  tjdux3 months ago
Thank you so much. My design was a bit too much in many people's eyes, because it used too much energy to crush cans. I think one could come up with a design that could use a tiny motor to crush the cans and get away from the clunky windshield wiper motor. I used a lot of crap that that was garbage to build it. It was surprising that it came out at all due to the lack of time, good parts, planning, and knowledge used to build it.
abbat20092 years ago
Im technician new to this (using Arduino), and trying to do the same thing as you im good electronically, and mechanically but not with programming this is way new to me I can get some examples uploaded in sketch but not yours do you have any hints, im getting allot of compiling errors.

when im done ill post mine with my schematic

thanks in advance.
danilo-dude2 years ago
Hey dude! I would like to ask you if you could put up a video on how this works if you don't mind :3

Also, I am a beginner with Arduinos, so I am not sure what to do and how to wire all that up... Is there a possibility to make the crusher without the LCD screen and to make the crusher just crush when I turn it on (with an optional switch)... Thank you very much in advance! =D
MRHint (author)  danilo-dude2 years ago
You could simplify this to a battery, a switch, and a motor. But it makes it so much easier to go without the screen. To do what you want to do, you will need a motor controller to go with the arduino so you can control the direction of the motor. If I were to redo this machine, I would use gears instead of a belt (it slips too much). I took the machine apart and threw most of it away. I am going to use the motor and arduino for a plastic recycler, but I can walk you through it.
choo_tan3 years ago
hi i would like to know is there any motor that can crusher 5tins at once?
MRHint (author)  choo_tan3 years ago
Thanks for the question, I wish I knew what you were asking. You could crush 5 cans at once but it would be better if it was chain driven instead of belt. the crushing part would have to be wider.
HECTOR_1343 years ago
Great idea and instructable. How do you get the weight of the crushed cans?
MRHint (author)  HECTOR_1343 years ago
The weight of the crushed is number of crushed cans multiplied by the weight of one aluminum can. Thanks for the commment.
redhotmama3 years ago
How cool! I was so pleased to see you included safety goggles :)
One question- what is arduino?
Way to go!
Love
Your cousins in Alabama
MRHint (author)  redhotmama3 years ago
An arduino is a micro-controller, which serves as the "brains" which controls the electronics--giving the machine instructions what to do when an event happens.
jabujavi3 years ago
WOW!!
A video?
mhinton3 years ago
Awesome idea! Good luck with the votes!!
MRHint (author)  mhinton3 years ago
Thanks!
immom3 years ago
Great idea! You get my vote!
MRHint (author)  immom3 years ago
Thanks for the vote and the comment!
woody1233 years ago
its so cool how it has a "magazine" of cans. great instructable!
i hope you dont mind me asking but are you using Circuit Wizard? (first pic - step 4)
MRHint (author)  woody1233 years ago
It is made by a program called fritzing, which can be found at fritzing.org. Thanks for the comment.
traxman663 years ago
I love 3, 4, and 7.
XD...
Great project!!!
MRHint (author)  traxman663 years ago
Thanks!
zack2473 years ago
wow now that is really cool!

you should record a video of it in action, it must be awesome :D
MRHint (author)  zack2473 years ago
Thanks!
Andsetinn3 years ago
A windshield wiper motor is usually a single direction motor. It's the lever on the gearbox, that you replaced with a pulley, that makes the wipers go back and forth as it turns in a circle. (It is a DC motor and they usually turn in the opposite direction if you switch plus and minus but the gearbox is often designed for force in one direction only)
If it's a front windshield wiper motor, it usually has wire for high speed, low speed and power, the ground sometimes does not have a wire.
The gearbox has a built in switch that stops the motor in certain position (so the wipers don't stop in the middle of the windshield).
If you connect 12 V to the power wire and the motor to the ground it doesn't turn, or only turns part of a circle and then stops. If you then momentarily connect 12 V to high or low speed wires the motor will start turning, but not stop until the circle has been completed. If you disconnect the power wire then the motor will start and stop as soon as you connect and disconnect 12 V to high or low speed wires.
MRHint (author)  Andsetinn3 years ago
Thanks for the comment.

But to clear things up, I should have included the wiring of the windshield wiper motor. I attached a wire from the frame of the motor and the wire that goes to direcly to the motor, bypassing the little switch that changes the direction.

I didn't like the results with the wind shield wiper motor, it isn't too fast (I know other motors could have much better results, but that's all I had to work with). The lever arm was taken off of the motor before I got it. I believe there is a picture of it in the Instuctable showing what the motor looked like.

It is an old model of a winshield wiper motor, I think from a GM based RV.
bobcat20103 years ago
I think this is a great idea, think i might just try this one but my question is, what exactly is an arduino?
MRHint (author)  bobcat20103 years ago
Thanks! An arduino is an open-source development platform (basicly a easy to use microcontroller).
Including a video of it in action would change this instructable from an A to an A+. Nonetheless, it is still remarkable. Great job.
MRHint (author)  tofu4tortoise3 years ago
Thanks!
eyebot1173 years ago
What rate can it mash the cans? I use a lever crusher and it's pretty quick, but it wears you out. I'd like to try an automated method like this, but I would want it to be able to mash the cans fairly fast as they accumulate by the bucketful around our house! Very cool project.
MRHint (author)  eyebot1173 years ago
Thanks for the comment!
The rate depends on the speed of the motor you use. I used an old windshield wiper motor-- It is a little too slow. I believe if you use a motor from a "powerwheels" you should be able to crush them fast.
Electric wheel chairs bought for Medicare patients are NOT RESELL-ABLE so If you ask nice the repair guy at your local hospital, nursing home, etc who has to PAY to discard them will probably give them to you free or sell them as "parts". They have an electro-magnetic brake that either needs to be removed or tripped with at least 12v and the motors are 24v and POWERFUL even when run at 12V. I built a remote control lawnmower that can't be stopped and seen the motors used to tow aircraft and cars around. I am a Biomedical Electronics Tech and have considered selling a few of my wheel chair motors so if your interested let me know. I have 10 or so different motors.
No kidding? Cool! I need to look into that! Personally I would use a pneumatic press to mash my cans. Using a pneumatic press, a solenoid valve, an arduino, a pressure tank, and a compressor, as well as some other parts, chutes, and electronic components, I'm sure it would be possible to make a pneumatic variation of a can mashing machine. I do however have in my possession a treadmill motor that I intended to use for a wind turbine, but I like this method better. Besides, my turbine blades were too heavy for the wind to spin anyways!
MRHint (author)  eyebot1173 years ago
That would be awesome! I would love to see a variation like that.
ilpug3 years ago
original idea, but how does it crush cans exactly?
MRHint (author)  ilpug3 years ago
There are 2 threaded rods that are connected to pulleys on one end and threaded couplers on the another which are mounted to a board. When the moter moves the belt, the pulles turn the threaded rods which pull the crusher closer. It works just like a cnc linear actuator, or a scissor jack.
ilpug MRHint3 years ago
very nice. thanks for the explanation. hope to see more from you.
jakdedert3 years ago
I like the idea, and you've apparently implemented it successfully. However, from looking at the pix, I can't seem to get my head around the actual mechanism you've built. Rather than answering a bunch of questions from me; perhaps it would help if you added a video of the device in operation. A flow diagram of the progress of the can through the machine might suffice.

The automation is likewise quite ingenious, but I could see a lot more people (myself included) building this a manually-operated device, with a simple switch to initiate the cycle, and perhaps a limit-switch to stop it. Automation could be added later if desired..

MRHint (author)  jakdedert3 years ago
Thanks for the comment! I wish I had time to make a video, but the end of the semester is on its way--and I have too many tests...

It crushes cans using the force created by the linear actuators (threaded rod moving the crusher).

A simple circuit could be made using the same setup with a SPDT switch connected to a DPDT relay which controls the direction of electricity going into the machine. the limit switches can still be used to create an open so that the machine doesn't go too far in or out.
I see it now, although details of the feed and exit cycle are still murky. It does work better as an automated process considering the 1-minute per can cycle time you cite above (30 seconds to crush, 30(?) seconds to cycle back to accept the next can). With a faster motor as you describe, it would be less tortuous to manually control. That said, with proper design, the digital logic could be easily dispensed with...the limit switches could trigger the DPDT relay you mention, to reverse the motor at each end of the cycle continuously as long as power was applied. In fact, another switch could trigger the presence of a can in the chute to start and stop the process. I guess that's not as much fun(?)...and of course doesn't address the measuring capability.
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