Introduction: Binn-E: the Recyclable Recycled Recycler

This is a fun project for a geeky family to get involved in the recycling effort. We'll be building a recycling bin from recycled parts and use it to recycle recyclables!

The instructable is in two parts:
1. The basic bin that can be made and used by anyone and
2.The really geeky one that adds all the bells and whistles for a truly entertaining recycling experience.

Step 1: Reconnaissance

Every office has a white elephant. That old printer standing abandoned in the corner. "Not economically repairable" it says on the tag.

Off to the landfill with you... or not...

Find the computer guy and just ask. Generally, if you're willing to remove the monster, you can most likely take it. But who's nuts enough to take THAT home?

Step 2: Calm the Wife Down

That's a topic for a completely different instructable. All I can suggest are well timed response between the shouting and the complete disbelief of what you've just done...
- But, it will be good for the ENVIRONMENT!
- The kids will LEARN something!
- There's lots of stuff I can use again in there! (On second thought, don't use this one)
- But, but I can win a COMPETITION!.. A moment of silence...What's the prize? Hook line and sinker :)

Step 3: Preparation

You'll need the following for teardown.

The process generates a lot of loose parts, so be prepared to organize a little if you're planning to use anything afterwards:

1. Space. You want to be able to move around the printer.
2. Maintenance manual for the printer. This isn't strictly necessary, but it helps when you get to bits that use special techniques to remove certain parts without damage. In my case, I searched for "HP Laserjet 8000 service manual" and found what I was looking for. The section named "Removal and Replacement Strategy" has all the info. We won't be doing the Replacement bit, so we hardly need a Strategy.
3. Philips Screwdriver. Don't use Posidriv for this particular printer.
4. I had this special little wrench lying around from a radio controlled car. It's basically a hex nut driver. It worked particularly well on the screw heads.
5. Portable table. This is handy to put the tools and the screw container on.
6. Small container 'for screws.
Tip: Drop a magnet in the bottom. It grabs the screws as they come off and prevent spills.
7. Plastic bag for toner and other messy bits.
8. Box for parts that will go back on the printer later - hatches, covers etc.
9. Box for plastic parts you'll throw away (sorry - recycle)
10. Box for metal parts.
11. Box for "Dream The Impossible Dream (DTID)" parts... Those you think you'll use again some day.
12. Comfortable swivel chair.
13. Upbeat music.
14. Patience. The teardown took me 3 evenings but there's some strange technical satisfaction in taking apart a machine like this bit by bit.
15. An assistant if available.

Step 4: Teardown (Reduce)

No particular science to this.. Start on the outside and work your way in.

1. Remove the paper trays, envelope feeder or anything that just slides out.

2. Remove the toner as instructed on the printer. Put this in the plastic bag. You'll be able to trade this in for a new one or take it to a printer shop to recycle properly.

3. Remove the fuser. This is a little harder because it has release clips. My fuser went into the DTID box because surely there must be something useful in there :)

4. Remove the duplexer (or anything else that just slides out). The duplexer has an interesting electric clutch on it - DTID box.

5. Loosen any visible screws on the covers.

6. Unclip the covers. Be careful not to break the clips.

7. Remove the electronics. Most cables have plugs and the boards either slide in or have screws holding them to the chassis. Don't force anything. If it doesn't slip out, then you've missed a screw or a clip somewhere.

Oooh... Lots of stuff for the DTID box here...

Step 5: Build (Reuse)

Take a piece of cardboard and cover it with shelf lining - the tough self-adhesive stuff you put in cupboards. This piece seperates the bin into two sections - one for plastic and aluminium and one for paper (coming later). Other configurations are also easy to do. It must really just create internal compartments.

Put the outside covers and hatches back on the empty shell.

Not surprisingly, it looks very much the same as when it started.

I contacted a local digital printing company and printed some decorations on vinyl. They were willing to do it very cheap as part of a larger production run as long as I was willing to wait a day or two.

Step 6: Recycle!

Plastic bottles fit nicely through the top hatch and cans can drop down the slide. Paper can go through the side hatch into the bottom compartment.

The whole lot goes into a recycling bag when Binn-E is full.

Last thing to do is to go recycle all those spare parts you just removed and won't be using again.

That concludes the basic Binn-E recycle bin.

But this isn't super cool yet! Surely the printer deserves a second life as a piece of useful technology? Maybe we can make an automated recycling machine!

Step 7: Revival

Let's bring Binn-E to life with some sensors, a motor and a controller. It will make Binn-E a lot more fun and at the same time use some of the stuff lying in the DTID box for years.

I'm not going to go into all the detail here but I'll post a more complete Instructable if there's interest.

You'll need:

1. A geared motor. Mine was pulled from a cigarette dispensing machine. It will be used to open and close the hatch.

2. A double-pole, double-throw relay. This is used to change the direction of the motor.

3. Rope. I used dekron from fishing tackle shop. This is extremely thin but strong line. It will be used to open and close the hatch.

4. Rubber band. This is a safety measure. The force of the motor can easily break something, so the rubber band handles a bit of shock and breaks before anything else does.

5. Optical proximity sensors. These came from a factory that threw them out as part of a maintenance shutdown. Again - ask - you'll be surprised what people are willing to part with as "junk". These will be used to detect when something is placed in the bin.

6. Micro switches. I got some from the same cigarette machine, but they're readily available. Get something with a long arm. These are used to detect the hatches opening and closing.

7. A small paper shredder. This makes it really easy to combine recycling and personal information security in one step.

8. Control system. I used the GSM Commander programmable GSM controller and a VIA Artigo embedded PC. This is definitely overkill, but it is for a good cause :) You can find out a bit more about this combination on my blog - .

Step 8: Mechatronics

The different components are fixed to the chassis where convenient. Even the sensor and motor found existing holes to be mounted in. The cable guides were not stripped off and turned out to be a great way to tidy up the cabling.

A piece of cardboard coated with shelf lining seperates the bin into two sections: The top half is used for bottles and cans, and the bottom half for paper. The slope also helps the bottles roll out the bin when the hatch is opened for emptying.

You can see the shredder on the side. The paper is fed from the side and runs under the internal divider to end up in the paper tray. This printer never thought paper will be going back into it.

The most complicated piece is the controller and software. This also makes it the fun part!

The GSM Commander is connected to the Windows CE PC via a serial cable and the whole lot is mounted on the original controller tray. I used some RJ45 break-out boards (bottom right) to connect the control system to the other electronics.

Tip: Use self-adhesive Velcro strips to mount the electronics. It makes it a lot easier to move things around to get the cabling right.

Another RJ45 break-out board on the other side of the ethernet cable. There's no ethernet running here, but the cables are really convenient and easy to use.

The controller assembly slides back into its slot.

The software is written for the .Net Compact Framework in C# using Visual Studio 2008 which means there's a lot of sophistication for a rubbish bin!

Step 9: Put Your Rubbish Where Your Dumpster Is

So what can it do?

- It says hello when someone opens the hatch.

- It knows when something was recycled and keeps count.

- It knows when the bin is full and send a text message to your phone - with your score.

- It opens he hatch and plays a recycling song while you empty it.

Watch the video to see...

Step 10: The End

Thank you for following this instructable and thanks to the people that inspired it and supported me in this build.

Please vote for Binn-E... It sure could use a new automatic metal crusher made from a snazzy laser cutter... and I'll recycle when I'm done - promise.

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