Introduction: What to Do With All Those AOL CD's

Picture of What to Do With All Those AOL CD's

I wanted to do something with plastic CD's besides adding them to the land fill - My solution was to use them build 3-D geometric constructions. I describe here how I used 12 CD's to build a Dodecahedron. I also built a 32 CD trucated Icosahedron, 12 of the CD's must be cut smaller an that takes a lathe,.

Step 1: Materials and Methods

Picture of Materials and Methods

1. CDROMs are made of Lucite (acrylic)plastic
2. I connect them by gluing 1/2" sections of flexible lucite hinges purchased from Tap Plastics - $1 for a 12" hinge. 25 joints are needed so you need at least 2 hinges.
3. The glue I used is "WELDON #16 clear, thickened cement for acrylic" Also purchsed at Tap.
4. A single dodecahedron "ball" is constructed in 2 halve of 6 CD's each using a layout jig I will describe.

Step 2: The Gluing Jig

Picture of The Gluing Jig

The basic idea for each half, is to place a single CD in the center surrounded by 5 others so that the hinges can be glued accurately and simply. I used 6 "pegs" on a 2' by 2' piece of plastic or plywood. Drill a 3/8" hole in the center and 5 others at exactly 72 degrees apart and 4 13/16" from the center. The CD center diameter is 9/16". This is not a common size so my solution was to make the center pegs from 3/8" dowel with 3/8" ID clear Tygon tubing slipped over it. You can get both at any hardware store. I use a CAD program to lay it out, but you can also construct it on paper with a compass and protractor. Accuracy is important!

Step 3: The Connectors

Picture of The Connectors

As I mentioned, the connectors are 1/2" pieces of flexible acrylic hinge. I cut them using a small hobbyist saw and miter box.
1. Place the hinge in the miter box and make a firm but shallow cut at 1/2" increments. It is not necessary to cut all the way through.
2. Using a pair of pliers, you can break the 1/2" piece off the longer length of hinge.
3. Note, after snapping, the hinge will not not separate completely because the center is flexible (what we want). Use a scissors and cut it free as shown.

Step 4: Gluing on the Connectors

Picture of Gluing on the Connectors

1. Place 6 CD's on the jig as show above.
2. Using a fine tipped permanent marker, draw a short line at each 72 degree position around the edge of all the CD's. You will need this to line up the hinges and especially the final gluing.
3. Glue the 5 hinges on the center CD and connect to the surrounding CD's - see photo.
4. Glue 2 more hinges on each CD as shown in the 2nd photo. NOTE: only add the hinges shown.

Step 5: Assemble Half the Dodecahedron

Picture of Assemble Half the Dodecahedron

1. When the 6 CD assembly previously done is dry ( ~15 minutes) remove it from the jig.
2. Assembly Jig - this is a scrap piece of 4x4 that is 4 1/4" long with a 3/8" hole drilled in one end. Remove one of the dowels/tubing from the gluing jig and place it in this hole.
3. Take the 6 CD assemply and place it over the new jig so the the center CD fits over the peg on the 4x4.
4. The outer CDs should hang down so that they just touch where the unmatched hinges meet.
5. Glue the remaining half hinge on each CD to it neighbor. Use the line drawn with the permanent marker to get the positioning correct. This is a bit tricky, so be patient
6. You are done with half the project.
7. Make the other half with another 6 CD's
NOTE!!! The 2 halves are not exactly the same. Recall that the hinge positions marked in reg shown in the second picture were not used in the first half. In the second half, glue a hinge there and NOT in the position to the right ( see previous section ).

Step 6: Final Assembly

1. Assuming you have the 2 halves done place them together to make the sphere.
2. Remember that there are 5 matching hinges on each ( 10 total ) that should each match up to one the the lines previously drawn on all the CD's.
3. If each half has a hinge at the same mating position there is a problem. See step 5.
4. Gluing is tricky - carefully work your way around the perimeter, making sure to press each glue joint firmly and wait for it to dry before moving on the next one.


thepelton (author)2011-07-07

A castaway sailor during World War 2 used a dime lashed to a fishhook to catch fish. The shininess of the dime made it look like a sardine to a larger fish. You could do the same with a chunk of a DVD.

xuchilan (author)2010-12-10

reminds me of a disco ball :D i wanna try to make one =P

ilpug (author)xuchilan2011-05-17

you could totally make a disco ball out of these!!!

Mepain (author)2007-02-18

alright, listen. where in the world do you have the right to be saying such inapropiate, inatiquate, unnecesarry, and just all-arond wrong comments to people who are just trying to contribute to the community. The Muffin Man says "woah, someone had a lot of cds and time." so what? it doesnt give you the right to mouth off to them just because they spelled one friggin' word wrong. also, why would you perposely spell other's names differently just becaused your mad at what they would say? go take anger management classes. and in case you havent noticed, when you post a comment, the bottom of the comment box says "'we have a "be nice" comment policy.' please be positive and constructive with your comments or risk being banned from our site." this means that if you dont have anything good to say, dont bother. furthermore, what accomplishment do you make for yourself by saying that someone should go die, calling them an ass (which is a donkey), saying that they have no intelligence, calling them names, and offending them in other varios ways that i feel would be innapropriate for the rest of the internet to see. frankly, your name deosnt seem very apropriate for the net, but thats your fault. you make me sick.

mechaninja (author)Mepain2011-02-01

self-confidence and bragging rights.

gurtek (author)2008-05-19

Nice piece of information for converting useless cd's to some cool stuff, i really like it and it tell me what to do with my old cd's. :) thanks.

CDSBigsby (author)2007-10-24

Nice one! I never could make myself throw away crap CD's either, so I always had a nice little stack lying around. Eventually, I thought to shatter them all into small-ish pieces, then I made a few bowls and a lampshade out of them, which turned out pretty rad, though fragile.

Timofly (author)2007-01-14

i really wanna say pointless, unless u like doing it, then its not pointless ahha, make it like a solar panel thingy or something...there must be more than cd's than geometric shapes

Grey_Wolfe (author)Timofly2007-09-13

Art doesn't have to have a point, that's why it's art... ...kinda like candy. lol

jak06 (author)2007-07-26

i never get any cds in the mail

dogseat (author)2006-03-23

I'm gathering AOL cds as part of the accumulation project!-->
Until September, 2006, I'm collecting them and building 'Pillars of Decency"
If you have any more, I'd love to get them!

93 Bright St.
Jersey City, NJ 07302


!Andrew_Modder! (author)dogseat2007-07-20

do you still need more?? ( i might have a few!)

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-07-20


thinker (author)2007-07-09

hey just a thought for ya CD thing if u cut triangles central around the centre(LOL!) ud be able to glue em in at the joins between CD's.Then all ud need to do was attach a lightbulb and BOOM! instant retro discoball courtesy of AOL :D

offlogic (author)2006-07-17

As Jehova-1 is my witness, R.Bucky Full'o'----, I feel your pain, really, but TRY THE DECAF! Genocide must be reserved for SPECIAL occasions.
We strung up a bunch of the AOL CDs we'd been "gifted" with as open air mobiles, just to disturb the starlings. They seemed to work on the birds, but drove the neighbors nuts, since their cats kept trying to catch the reflections, so... we didn't use nerve gas on the neighbors. We took the "art" down.
Yes, the CDs did look stunning in the sunlight and did us more good than signing up for AOL would do for anyone with a single intact neuronal connection, but these were/are neighbors worth keeping (they beat the meth-heads with the pit-bulls that were tearing through the fence to get at us).
Art sacrificed for the greater (our own) good.

I appreciate that you seem to keep a cool head. I could stand to be more like you in that regard. (And I respect that you appreciate Hunter S. I think the last thing he wrote was an article for Playboy's 50th anniversary edition - a great rant, if you happen to have missed it.) Respectfully, I don't see the correspondence between your experience with your neighbors (I'd have taken the CD's down myself) and my own situation here. Are you saying that the three dudes I criticized are "neighbors worth keeping?" If so, who are the web equivalents of the "meth-heads with the pit-bulls"? Which art is to be sacrificed to the three unappreciative dullards above? Why should anything of value be sacrificed to them - shouldn't the opposite be the case? Doesn't it serve the greater good to chastise them? It sounds like your neighbors had a legitimate problem, or at least, a problem which they could clearly identify: their cats were tear-assing around. I doubt your neighbors knocked on your door and said, derisively,insipidly, and to no particular end, "What's the point of your mobiles? Somebody sure had a lot of time/CD's...". Now imagine a whole neighborhood teeming with idiots like that - all knocking on your door. "That's a stupid car you bought." "Your wife's vegetable garden - somebody has a lot of Prozac and free time." Your neighborhood would cease to be a neighborhood. You'd be in high school again! Why don't we just hand the whole earth over to the Beast Lord SATAN? I say nip this B.S. in the bud - with extreme prejudice - before the whole website is overrun by dumb savages, ie, teens. I was especially irked at these three because the dodecahedron - and the rest of the Platonic and Archimedean solids - have fascinated men of genius for hundreds of years. Besides the two Greeks for whom they are named, these polyhedral forms have, over the centuries, fascinated the likes of Leonardo DaVinci, Johannes Kepler, Albrecht Durer, as well as countless other mathematicians, physicists, engineers and artists - oh - and Bucky Fuller. These forms are enduringly relevant. Just recently, scientists interpreted data from NASA's anisotropy probe satellite to indicate that the shape of the universe may be that of a Poincarre dodecahedron. (The poincarre Dodecahedron is sort of a 4-D analog to the 3D dodecahedron, and it has special and rather amazing properties. Search Science News and Nature for more on this.) So Plato may have been remarkably prescient to write of the dodecahedron in his Timaeus, "..and there remained a fifth element with which the gods embroidered the constellations upon the heavens." These forms are paradigmatically elegant - perfect, even, in a "Platonic" sort of way. Their contemplation is its own reward. They're beautiful. But anyway, I guess I just flip out when teenagers act like... teenagers. No, sir, I don't like 'em. I say, if we're gonna teach 'em to read, then we shouldn't allow them to congregate. Divide and conquer. Keep 'em in their place, y'see? Sure, you gotcher good ones, but the rest of 'em's just... (by the content of their character). Teens - AAARRGH!!! Learn some respect!!! I mean for substantive, meaningful stuff!!!

like i said before, you make me sick. you spent all that time to type something that is obviously overdone. you could have saved about 15 minutes of your life if you said something a lot simpler like "i hate teenagers" or "i think that (insert comment her) was an unnecesary addition to this instructable," but noooooo, you have to go on and make the rest of us waste our time reading your useless comments by writing a book. give it a rest, and i, too, suggest using decaf.

The point was less that I hate teenagers (I don't really hate them at all - but I may still have issues with the ones who hated me when I was a teen!) - and more that polyhedra are very worthy of one's attention. I'm sorry I couldn't get you more interested in polyhedra, mepain - I tried my best to "sell" them. It was probably the severity of my previous critical language that turned you off to my more substantive message about these beautiful(and not entirely useless) forms. In retrospect, I was pretty unhappy back when I pounced on those three guys. These days, I'd simply ignore comments if I felt they were worthless or discouraging of somebody's contribution effort. However, I'd like to add that I don't think there is anything wrong with reasonably intelligent "trolling" when a "troll" defends something of value, or assails something meaningless or stultifying. People these days seem to be so down on passionate, smart, individualistic negativity! And going "over the top" in a rant is fun if you've never tried it! I am far more troubled by the widespread disapproval for trolls than by the odd troll's disapproval. I wish I could say that I understood you and your response more fully, mepain. The truth is, I'm not sure where you're coming from, or how you choose what to pay attention to. I suggest you try caffeinated coffee and additive-free cigarettes and just see what those do for you. You might find yourself stimulated!

Hey R.Buckminster! This place is for creative ideas, not for random expression of your thoughts and hates - this particular istructable and everything beneath it shows how to reuse CD. This is what you supposed to post comments on. If you want to chat on random subjects and hate people - go create your own blog, or find an appropriate forum !

Chris Bilton (author)2007-06-25

I am currently converting a room completely lined with disused CDs. This is the ceiling; Im working my way down. I plan to cover everything, furniture fixtures and fittings with CDs and wear silver foil garments when inside the room. I will be an art installation called, The Oven Ready Kid Is Foiled Again. Na, only kidding, but the ceiling is real, it looks like an explosion in a computer shop. I think it is a shame to dump shiny stuff, must be the magpie in me, bloody painful having a magpie inside you, pecking away.

Dog_Man (author)2007-06-09

Wow! I like it! All I came up with was gluing the printed sided together to make silver on both sides. Then I hung them in the trees in my backyard as sun catchers. As the wind blew them, they created running rainbows on the back yard. I'd like to see what your design would cast if I just hung it from a branch...

frogbutt8 (author)2007-06-07

i put pictures on one side and hang them up. the light catches them and you have rainbows and a new way to show your pictures.

Ursell (author)2007-06-06

you know what would be pretty to make it in to a lamp shade...just a thought

gamemasterbm (author)2006-05-01

if you want something to do and you have a LOT of cds.....

ninja kitty (author)gamemasterbm2007-05-27

holy fing shiz thats alot of cds

Woah, someone had alot of cds and time

heav (author)2007-05-02

cool thing, probably hidden from the inside the glue in some way (some tape with the glue) could enhance the external appearance

magganrchy (author)2007-04-03

Aol CD's are surprisingly durable...use them as Ice scrapers that's what I do

marc92 (author)magganrchy2007-04-17

not a bad idea CD's are great multi-taskers

especialy when they only contain junk like...AOL (they call it America Online, I call it Always on Lag)

True... True...


marc92 (author)2007-04-17

Maybe you could put a light bulb inside it and hang it from the ceiling for a cool light fixture.

Eddbot (author)2007-04-12

what's with allthe really long comments nice idea by the way

assasin (author)2007-03-31

i just shoot them.

CameronSS (author)2007-02-21

So, none of them posted a single instructable and that makes them've only posted one. That's creative. I've only posted one too, but I just got here a week ago. Quit dissing people who did nothing to you or anyone else and shut your pie hole.

dragonahedra (author)2007-01-27

That's such a unique idea! Where to you get those clear plastic clip things? Also how much to you need to cut off the "pentagon" CDs when making the truncated isocahedron?

rickb (author)dragonahedra2007-02-17

Thanks for your interest. The "clips" are ~1/4" wide sections that were sawn from a flexible lucite piano hinge. See the instruction photos for more details. As for the truncated icosahedron, the ratio of the 2 diameters is 0.795. The icosahedron requires 32 CD's: 20 full size and 12 of the smaller ones. I used a mini-lathe to do the cutting but most of the work went into making the support jig. The CD sets into a support plate ( also plastic ) and is anchored down with 3 screws. I plunge cut it at the desired diameter. However, it was tricky because the CD is so thin and tends to grab and get flung out of the jig when the cut is almost through. If you have a lathe and want to try this, let me know an I'll send photos and more details.

otrbarb (author)2007-02-02

After you have played with those cds please recycle them by sending to Plastics Recycling Inc. 2015 South Pennsylvania Indianapolis, IN 46225 Thanks

xenobiologista (author)2006-03-09

Great idea. Now i've got something to indulge my obsession with geometric figures _and_ get rid of spoilt CDs. What do you do with these things? Hang them from the ceiling? That would look fantastic in sunlight.

rickb (author)xenobiologista2006-03-12

What do I do with them - I added a vertical shaft and bearing mounted in 1-1/4" PVC tubing and mounted it on my garden trelliss. Note from the attached image. I use green gellato cups to catch the wind and make it spin. Quite nice on a sunny day. Geometric shapes - I also built a truncated Icosahedron. It's considerably larger, takes 32 CDs, and required a lathe to make the 12 smaller diameter disc. See the include image

Freddie Freelance (author)rickb2007-01-31

If the smaller diameter disks are 3" you can use CD-Singles, they're available at many Thrift Shops for $.50-$2.00, and buying them is cheaper than cutting them down with a lathe.

thermitemaster (author)2006-12-11

Freakin awesome. Thats the coolset thing.

Danny (author)2006-12-03

and you took the time to write this? it doesnt make sence

e1mer (author)2006-11-26

I have always felt that a 4x8 sheet of plywood could nicely hold an array of compact disks that could be focused to make a solar furnace. The disks would need to be aimed, I think with three drywall screws each. So far I have not had the patience to put together the thing. Wikipedia says that a CD is just over 4 inches in diameter, so that seems to be a 10 x 20 array on a panel. It's a shame that AOL seems to have stopped sending CDs.

Johntron (author)2006-10-27

Cool idea. I used to put mine on my walls. They looked cool with all the fancy lights i had.

The Muffin Man (author)2006-10-24

hey sorry i dont want any trouble my god im not saying the instructable is crap or anything, So back off

Penguin of Death (author)2006-10-17

A friend bored out the holes in the centre of a load of CDs and spaced them along a vertically standing fluerescent tube. Looked great

markuss5 (author)2006-09-29

hehehe. i like what you wrote..

About This Instructable




Bio: I am currently employed as a software engineer for Intel in Hillsboro, OR
More by rickb:What to do with all those AOL CD's
Add instructable to: