I've been thinking about Ben's continual struggle to get a viable can crusher, and have come up with a great solution: The Power of Fuel.

 

Rather than burning out a solenoid or having an ultra high ratio gear system on a whimsy electric motor, I'd just get the power needed from a good old two stroke engine. You might think this would mean poor Ben would have to pull string start a lawnmower every time he finished his Diet Pepsi, but no! Personal experience shows that you can start a small engine, like that from a lawn mower, by just attaching a power drill to the shaft. Get that spinning and it'll start perfectly.

 

I drafted this high quality diagram to demonstrate how it all works:

twostroke.jpg

The whole thing is powered by a small micro controller, probably using a big set of relays (not pictured).

  1. First, a can gets placed in the crushing slot and Ben hits the Go button.
  2. A relay fires and starts up the power drill. A small solenoid fires to put the throttle of the 2 stroke engine into the start position.
  3. The motor powers up! A small rubber wheel is attached to the shaft on the engine. This uses a belt to form a gear system from the engine.
  4. The other end of the belt is attached to a large car wheel. Welded to the cap on the wheel is a long hammer.
  5. As the engine spins, the hammer is slowly but strongly lowered onto the can sitting in the crushing slot.
  6. The can is reduced to a pancake.
  7. Small contact sensors are placed around the wheel. When the hammer has rotated to the position of having fully crushed the can, it trips one of these sensors.
  8. The micro controller reads this sensor and then fires another solenoid, opening a trap door underneath the can letting it drop into the crushed can bin.
  9. The hammer continues to rotate until another sensor is tripped when it has reached the starting position again. Then the trap door is closed and another solenoid is used to turn off the 2 stroke engine.

 

That's my idea! This idea really needs a two stroke engine because a four stroke engine out of a lawnmower has its fuel gravity fed - not ideal when you want it to work on its side. A two stroke might be louder and way less fuel efficient, but because it uses vacuum force to suck in its fuel they can work reasonably well when not upright. It's also super cheap to get one from a second hand store or online.

 

Felix and the rest of the team might not be a fan of having the engine fire up ten times a day, but they'll get over it. Two Stroke Power is the way of the future! Crush those Diet Pepsi cans with the burning explosions of fossil fuel!