PCB Binder




About: Im currently studying Mechanical electrical Engineering, im more interested in the electric part but id like to learn more about Digital electronics , and PLDS, i also like to draw and paint ... i mostly hav...

So you like to take stuff apart and salvage stuff?! What do you do with those PCB boards after you take stuff off of them?

Well i made a Binder... its quite heavier than a regular binder, but its also stronger and looks kind of cool.

For this project i used the following materials

Wire Cutters
a Knife *
soldering iron
screw driver
a "dremel tool"
a paintbrush (mainly for cleanup or dust-off work)

PCB boards **
a Regular cheap Binder (if its used even better, free stuff rocks!... make sure it still works tho)
2 Screws with their nuts (around 0.5" long)
Contact cement ***
a sheet of foam ***
a bunch of jump rings (small rings used mainly to make Charm Bracelets)

*necessary to cut foam and pry stuff off your PCB, anything that does this job will do
** as big as you can get em, for this project you will need at least 2 sheets (11.5 " x 10.25") and 1 (11.5" x 1") minimum
*** Optional but you may decide to use Them in the end (it protects the back of your notes and also gives a padded support)

I have been asked where did i get those huge PCB's here is my response: (if you know the name or kind of the equipment im talking about please comment, so others know where to look :)

Well im not sure what it was, there were 2 huge metallic boxes (the kind you put on a rack thing) On the front one reads " COGNEX 2000 vision systems" the other one reads "Turbo HR+ ESI vision products" on the back both have around 4 camera outputs and the second one also has some serial ports marked "SIO"
i found this picture of one of the PCB sources
Box 1

i assumed they were some part of a closed circuit "surveillance system"... basically when they throw away stuff at the electronics department @ school they let us take what we want XD

UPDATE!!! googfan said he found some Server PCB's that are quite large, hope it helps

SAFETY FIRST! please! when using a cutting tool, or when you are prying things off your board wear eye protection, and cover your nose, i don't think PCB "sawdust" or solder fumes are good for your health, also i had a few close calls before i decided i HAD TO use the glasses

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Step 1: Design

This step is important if you want the end result to look cool.

First of all measure your Old/Cheap Binder, you will need to know the size of each panel (from now on i will call them Front, Side and Back panel) as well as the placement of the "clamp" (thanx to technodude92) when i say placement i mean to check the location of the bolts that hold it to the back panel or side panel (depending on the binder you want to make)

i wanted to make it bigger

cheap/free old binder
front and back: 11.5" X 10.25"
side: 11.5" X 1.5"

My Binder:
front and back 12.5" X 10.5"
Side 12.5" X 1 5/8"

while you are measuring consider how the board looks, is there a component that stands out?, would it look better as a side panel or front panel? if i cut it this way this component has to be desoldered or cut in half?... be creative

Step 2: Desolder the Backside PCB

Now that you have an idea of what you want the binder to look like its time to get to the hard part

there are some nice instructables on desoldering complicated stuff

Tool Tip: How to Salvage PCB Parts by 1up
Salvage surface mount components by neelandan
Heatgun Desoldering by Mage2
Where's my desoldering iron!? by whatup.dub

Also a tip by Ductape667 was to set the entire PCB on an electric skillet and then plucking off all the components of the PCB

for all you scavengers this should be easy, for the rest of us, when patience runs out use the dremmel tool but use it wisely, cut the leads as far from the board as possible so you can desolder them separately (usually the hardest stuff to desolder is "multi-pinned" stuff

You need to desolder the back panel... because it needs to be flat on that side so you can lay it on your desk and also, those leads can damage your notes or hands if you are not careful (however thats also what the foam and contact cement is used for, you can cover the leads with a sheet of foam)

for me this was the hardest part because im not to patient and this takes quite some time to desolder with a 25w soldering iron and some pliers., to get each lead out i used the tip of the iron and a knife to pick each lead out of the board as you desolder it in just one move (use the tip and the knife as "chopsticks"... -.- using both hands)

Step 3: Cutting

You guys done!? Hard part is over, time to get your safety gear (if you haven't already) its a must for this step!

By now you have the measurements for your binder, so its time to draw some lines in the PCB with a marker or something (i used a cd marker and later removed the ink with alcohol)

get your "dremel" tool and very carefully (and using your glasses... don't forget) cut along the lines you just drafted, BE CAREFUL.

you can use a paintbrush to clean the panels afterwards.

Step 4: Panel Assembly

in order to link all the panels together i used some jump rings and my drill,

my front panel had some space between the edge of the board and the components on one side so i did the holes to link the panels there, on the back i had to place the ring holes wherever an empty space matched on both panels

Again, use your measuring tape, or ruler or whatever to make marks where you want to place the rings, make sure that they match up with marks on the other panel, and that they are a bit closer to the edge of the board than half the inner diameter of the ring

*CAUTION weird mechanical explanation*
Thats because you want to be able to open the binder with panels at a 180º angle and when you do that, the ring must be centered, but it has to have some slack to move freely so you need to give it a "hole to hole" distance of "less than the inner diameter" and the distance from the outer edge of the holes has to be bigger than the outer diameter.

This is as long as the distance from the edge of the panel to the hole isn't smaller than the thickness of the panel in which case i would recommend using larger rings

At first i made the holes the exact diameter of the rings, big mistake, the rings get stuck and bend/break/etc... overall a bad idea.

check the images to see what finally worked.

Once you are done making the holes its time to get your pliers and put those rings through each pair of matching holes. i also used some solder to hold the ends of the rings together, that way it looks much better

Step 5: Set the "Clamp"

i don't know how this thing is called... sorry

anyway, this is what makes the binder.

its time to measure (if you haven't already) the distance between the bolts in the clamp and the offset distance from the inner edge of the original binder, i've seen it mounted on the side panel as well as the back panel, i mounted it on the back panel

the hard part is removing the bolts from the old binder, i tried to drill the top (or bottom i dunno) of the bolt as you do with rivets, the problem is that the bolt spins with the bit and anyway when you are done and try prying the clamp off your old binder it bends very easily WHICH IS NOT GOOD, the system used to pop the rings open and shut is really simple but bending this piece is its worst enemy

So anyway what i ended up doing was using the dremmel tool on the back side of the binder, and cut off the head of the bolts, removal was so easy after that

Now get your Drill bits and find one that matches the screws you got for this job.

the procedure is pretty easy overall just make your markings carefully so it doesn't look crooked in the end

Once you tighten the nuts on the back side you can put a dab of nail glue (the kind women use to put fake nails on, not the kind used on carpentry) or a similar glue so that it gets on the threads of the nut and locks it into place

Step 6: Finishing Up

now that you have the basic binder finished...

The inside of the back panel is not much of a working surface... YET, thats why i bought some sheets of foam.

This step is real simple: Measure twice Cut once... when measuring just take into account the type of paper you will be using

I used the kind of glue shown in the picture... one word of advice; when you apply the glue to the foam, the foam starts to like expand and stuff so it will look crooked if you glue it that way. (i know mine did)

so i ended up having to reshape it with an Xacto knife once i glued it, if i were you id try to apply some glue on the PCB and then lay the foam on top of it.

i added another sheet of foam on the front as if it were a regular binder sheet only a bit bigger

And its done!!!

This is my very first instructable so all comments that could help me make this one a better instructable are very welcome, also i am not a native english speaker so i don't know some Vocabulary related to tools and stuff like that, id also appreciate any help with that

WOW front page popular instructable... im happy :) !!!

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    106 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey man. I work as a student technician at my school and have access to a bunch of motherboards. I don't have what you have, but If you really could I would love some kind of instructable on how to make a binder out of motherboards! This would mean a lot to me, and I would really appreciate it! If you can email me about this, as I see I'm making this comment a decent while after this instructable was made! someone please help!


    10 years ago on Step 1

     Holy crap, what's that front panel from!?!? Even a mobo doesn't have that many IC's!! I gotta get myself one of those!

    Awesome project, great idea. I love it.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Your little yellow BATTRAY would LEAK soon or later.... and damage your other stuff, papers, boards ....u should take it off, this one.

    3 replies

    i really dont know the internal structure of Lithium Batteries but, they are not electrlolitic are they????, i dont think it would have leaked... and as i said before, that battery sadly fell off and got lost, it looked pretty nice tho so even if i still had it and it leaked i'd probably just seal it off with some sort of resin


    seal it off by resin-paint, maybe it ok. dont forget to seal the tiny trought-hole also....but these rust could crowl bellow green-resin of copperline. ive seen it before, just check your oldy abandoned board if u wanna be sure of. M/B manufacture might aware of it, and replace it with button Batteries. ;otherwise use button Batteries as replacement. u could add a flip-flop activated by a switch, it would glow when the book being token from it places or being opened... if u good on microcontroller like atmega128 + tiny wires + smd stuff(took it from your abandon boards), u could do more with it... ;) Lot of Love dude. u are creative. i like your idea.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    thanks the colored tabs on the side are dividers. Im actually going to use this for my technology class


    10 years ago on Introduction

    lol that looks cool! I had a bunch of old server boards but then I ripped out some of the ICs and sold the boards to the scrap yard!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Great i think I'll update the instructable to include that, so many ppl are asking about it XD


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Commercial PCB shops use strychnine during the fabrication process, so BE CAREFUL !!! Wash those hands. Also, FR4 is the most common material and it is fiberglass, so the dust from it will mess you up as well. Personally I would stay away from cutting up PCBs. It's not worth it for something that will probably be tossed in a few years anyway.