What to Do With All Those AOL CD's




About: I am currently employed as a software engineer for Intel in Hillsboro, OR

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,.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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.

Be the First to Share


    • Instrument Contest

      Instrument Contest
    • Make it Glow Contest

      Make it Glow Contest
    • STEM Contest

      STEM Contest

    57 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    12 years ago

    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.

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Step 6

    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.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    12 years ago on Step 1

    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

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Step 1

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


    12 years ago on Introduction

    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


    13 years ago

    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.

    4 replies
    R. Buckminster F_ckerofflogic

    Reply 13 years ago

    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!!!

    MepainR. Buckminster F_cker

    Reply 12 years ago

    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.

    R. Buckminster F_ckerMepain

    Reply 12 years ago

    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

    12 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    C:\Documents and Settings\chris\My Documents\Work\My Pictures\CD ceiling.jpg