In 2011, while researching ideas for measuring and monitoring the level in my rainwater storage cisterns, I continually read about a new thing called ‘Arduino’, an open-source electronics prototyping platform (microcontroller). I was impressed with the innovative open-source hardware approach, and was sold on their product and philosophy: “it's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments”. The Arduino platform, and Processing programming language is the basis for many of my projects.

While taking stuff apart my imagination hits warp-drive when I find an especially curious or useful item to add to the parts bin; or else I'll get kick-started on an idea by visiting websites such as Instructables, Hack A Day, and Make Magazine. So now I have several lifetime's worth of projects I'd like to pursue... yet I still haven't built a rainwater cistern level monitor (see Rule #3 in A Codified Set of Rules).

A Simple Workbench

A DIY soldering fume exhaust unit is built into the shelf base at the back of the workbench. Loose-fitting PVC pipe allows the 3" suction hood to be repositioned as needed; a carbon filter is included in the removable 4" exhaust section, which can be extended directly outside. It's all powered by a recycled 110V muffin fan and a toggle light switch.

Breadmaker Breakdown - see more like this in the Gallery

A broken 5.6Kg (12 lb) bread-making machine yields 3Kg (6.6 lb) of metal; 0.85Kg (1.9 lb) of plastic; 1.7Kg (3.7 lb) of reusable items: AC motor, pulley-belt, switches, an LCD display, temperature sensors, a gear, and electronic components to be desoldered from two circuit boards. Only 17 grams (0.6 oz) and some flour end up in the trash!


Workbench Recycled

Currently, my list of active projects is fairly short:

MARCH 16, 2012

  • finish building new and improved electronic workbench
  • dismantle the growing pile of items people have discarded or generously donated
  • itemise and label plastic storage containers and parts drawers to keep everything organised
  • experiment with Arduino Uno and short-circuit my way through the electronics learning process
  • build an ultrasonic and/or pressure-sensitive cistern level monitor, with wireless data-logging

Future intentions:

— Visit the e-Waste Workshop and the Links section for more reusable ideas —