I have been working with solar cells for about six months now and needed a way to cut them into smaller pieces, to get higher voltage when stringed together in a panel. I first started with a wooden jig fixing a Dremel tool with a diamond saw attachment, and manually cutting the solar cell across the saw blade. But a slightest movement of the platform or hand would break the solar cell which is very brittle. I needed something more sturdy and some device which could move the saw blade in a straight line with no jitters, and I thought of the humble scanner.

Here is a youtube video of this table top saw cutting a solar cell :

The scanner has all the necessary mechanical components for to and fro motion and all I needed to do is attach a super-high speed motor to the “Read-head” which is the main black box that moves and scans the document, and rewire the circuits inside and the buttons on the front panel to make the stepper motor that controls the read head to go back and forth.

I use an Arduino microcontroller and some existing components on the main circuit board to control the Read-head.
The final product is shown in the Main Image

Step 1: Start With a Used Old Scanner You Might Have or Buy on Craigslist or Ebay

Buy or start with a used scanner that you can take apart. I bought a UMAX Astra 2200 Flatbed scanner from Craigslist for $5. You can easily find one on Craigslist or Ebay. Now open the front cover. 
<p>very impressive, at first I thought it wasn't, but after analyzing all the work you put into these.. I was impressed, nice job, thanx for sharing </p>
Awaiting the video, sounds like something I might be able to use in my shop, Thanks
Here is the video :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmdaVf0kplE <br>
Great to see it in action! <br>thx.. <br> <br>what about the dust from cutting? i suppose it'll mostly be silica (glass)? <br>is it harmful?
Yes the dust is mostly Silica. So I believe in small amounts it will be like what you would breath at a beach. <br>But I have plans to attach a weather strip on the edges of the scanner's cover that you see in the picture and close the lid when anything is being cut. I can then extend this idea to attach a shop vac to this and suck up the debris.
Is there a video of the saw cutting anything?
Here is the video : <br> <br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmdaVf0kplE <br>
will take one this weekend and attach it to the instructable
nice idea! <br>
I like it. You have given me a little inspiration. I had an idea to make an engraver using a Dremel. And an old scanner. It looks like im going to need to get me an arduino board and get to it. <br> <br>On a side note, instead of using a small rc motor, couldnt you buy a cheap Dremel flex shaft? I would think it would give you much more depth for cut, but you probably are only using it to cut the same thickness over and over so it wouldn't matter. <br>Nice instructable, I'll be watching for more!
Thanks for the nice words. Dremel flex shaft was indeed my first choice, but that involved cutting the body of the scanner, and you would have to carry a Dremel tool and the whole assembly is pretty bulky. I did not need a whole lot of torque to cut thin solar cells, and the depth of cut I get is enough - so I thought of this slot motor. Now the unit is self contained and I can carry it around easily. <br>But if you need variable speed, high torque, depth of cut (you can actually add a larger dia cutting wheel) etc, you will have to go the Dremel flex-shaft route. i have not found a compact alternative to that.
I'd love to see it in action. cutting those boards.. any video? perhaps you have a youtube channel? <br>
Here is a youtube video : <br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmdaVf0kplE
Hey I would really love to see an engraver using a Dremel and an old scanner. If you do it make an instructables to share some of that knowledge. It would be nice to be able to engrave without doing anything freehand with the risk of slipping.
I also would like to add, the glass you remove from a scanner is very pure, clean and flawless. Not mention nice and thick. The company I worked for had a small photo studio and they used glass panels as a camera shield. So... Re-purpose that bad boy!
Nice work! Looks like you've made a good precision tool here. <br> <br>How do you hold the wafers securely on the table while you are cutting?
Now I currently hold it with tape, but have plans to reattach a sponge to the lid, (i ripped it off to see what's underneath).. so when the lid is down, the sponge hold the material to be cut in place
Interesting recycling idea.
This is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing it. <br>Look forward to some more instructables from you.
Cool, I have been thinking of how to make a cheap machine for cutting simple rectangular shapes quickly, and here it is... Thanks !!! Great idea, now where is that old scanner......

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