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    Recycle & Retrofit

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    Congratulations to simont.arts  for  SenzaFiloDiffusione !  You are the winner of a $200 Shopping Cart and win the Grand Prize!


    Congratulations to yesha98  for The Disinfectinatorbaldengineer for WiFi9600 Modem,  and  genebren for  Mr. Machine gets an upgrade!  You are the First Place winners of the $100 Shopping Cart and are the First Place Winners!


    We'd hope to announce this before 2020 was over but time got away from us and its now 2021, so the first of winners announcement of 2021is the Recycle & Retrofit competition.  As you may have guessed the nostalgia was strong with this one.  2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone and an upcycling competition that reminded us of what it felt like to be normal in the past seemed like a fitting way to end the year.   Prior to this event we had an upcycling workshop hosted by balearicdynamics and which you can find here:  Vintage Upcycling with Raspberry Pi or Arduino Workshop (Zero to Hero) Series.  Download a sample and purchase a copy to support our very own balearicdynamics by visiting "Vintage Upcycling With Raspberry Pi and Arduino" & The Vintage Upcycling Winners.   Enrico gave away several copies along with a Pi or Arduino to help inspire you to turn your ideas into a reality.  Fittingly, one of the recipients of one of the Raspberrry Pis we gave away, simont.arts , was able to use this as inspiration for a vintage upcycling project of his own.   The Philips solid state radio from his childhood followed him around for 30 years before being upcycled using a Raspberry Pi.   Its an aesthetically pleasing piece of vintage tech and a worthy Grand Prize winner.


    baldengineer ,  hearkened back to a time when he needed to decide between watching Cheers or hogging his only phone line by using a dialup modem to play Tradewars.  Meanwhile,  genebren rekindled his love for Mr. Machine with a retrofitting of the classic 60s-70s toy from the 60s/70s era.  Rounding up the first place finishers, yesha98 built a useful project to help keep us safe in 2020.  This was a really great project competition and all the projects are worthy of a second look, not just the ones that made this announcement.


    Special thanks to our community member judges for helping us close out 2020 in style:   gpolderDAB , fmilburndixonselvan , 14rhbjancumpsthree-phase , and balearicdynamics .


    Without further Ado here are your winners.......


    {tabbedtable} Tab LabelTab Content

    The Winners

    The Grand Prize

    SenzaFiloDiffusione by simont.arts:


    Community Member Scoring:


    Grand Prize: 4 points, First Place:  5 point  Total Points: 9 Points


    In Italy, where simont.arts lives, the national radio/tv broadcasting system (RAI), along with the mainline phone carrier (formerly Telecom, now TIM), used to broadcast 6 radio channels on the phone line, thus providing a service called Filodiffusione ("wire broadcast"). The service started in the late fifties and lasted (in forms other than telephone lines) until a few years ago. You could rent (almost for free) a standalone device comprising an internal speaker and often two external speakers aesthetically matched. The device itself was synecdochically called the Filodiffusione. Unfortunately, simont.arts  doesn't have the two speakers anymore.  His idea was to repurpose a Philips solid state cable radio, keeping it externally as similar as possible to its original form, as a wi-fi web radio player. As this "wired broadcast" will become a "wireless broadcast", so "filo" (wired) will become "senza filo" (wireless). (Of course "wired/wireless" is referring to radio source). The core of this new web radio player will be a Raspberry PI 3b+ provided by E14 after the first proposal of this project. This really vintage looking object has taken a place in various houses of simont.arts  over the last 30 years, mostly because it has a sentimental value to him (when he was a small kid it was his main music source) and also because it was aesthetically pleasing.



    "Nice upgrade to an interesting piece of electronic history." - Community Member Judge

    "Ideal as an entry project when you’re strong in software and want to start with electronics." - Community Member Judge

    "A great project to bring back to life and old radio with nostalgic memories. A highly detailed blog provides a great reference for anyone else wanting to attempt a similar project." - Community Member Judge


    "I can't ignore that this contest originates by the Upcycling workshop series. And this is the project that most focused the attention on the approach. A vintage device becomes new; very different features perfectly saving the aesthetics of the old times. Appreciable the approach of reusing the original user interface for a new user experience." - Community Member Judge

    "Apart from being really retro and modifying and old piece of audio equipment this project blog was extremely well written - it made it a pleasure to read and learn from the steps involved." - Community Member Judge

    "Clear explanation of steps. I liked the way how Simone Tomaselli has maintained the old radio look on the outside and placed modern tech inside to keep us entertained with songs. Good job." - Community Member Judge

    "Senzfilo Diffusione, great project, sentimental favorite." - Community Member Judge

    First Place Winners:


    The Disinfectinator by yesha98:


    Community Member Scoring:


    Grand Prize: 4 First Place:  4 points Total Points: 8 Points


    yesha98  always wanted to build something useful to society and the world. Having done several science projects in electronics and IoT, he wanted to utilize his skills in such a way that benefited most front-line workers. Due to the ongoing pandemic, things have changed a lot. We need to wear masks everywhere, sanitize our hands from time to time, etc. One such issue that he found was, after using our mobile phones or other things outside, we often forget to sanitize them or we do it with liquid disinfectant. Thus, he wanted to build something that could help people stay away from germs by disinfecting their essentials without touching the disinfecting machine itself. In the current era, e-Waste has been a major threat to the environment. Therefore, this project mainly relies on using e-Waste effectively as much as possible.  The theory is that UV-C kills the germs by rupturing their cell membrane and altering their DNA/RNA.  So this was the main idea in doing this project. UV disinfecting chambers have already hit the market, but one of the main features that they all lacked was, the 360-degree all-surface disinfection. This project overcomes those limitations and disinfects all the surfaces by flipping the items automatically after disinfecting one surface.


    Key Features:


    • Completely Touch-Free
    • 360-degree disinfection
    • Kills coronaviruses also
    • UV-C based Interactive display
    • Adjustable Timer up to 12 Hrs. Emergency stop


    The Disinfectinator

    "Useful project, nice presentation and video. Steps lack some detail." - Community Member Judge

    "This was a well thought out project with a step by step blog from design through to build. The touchless control was well thought out and implemented perfectly." - Community Member Judge

    "The Disinfectinator by yesha98 - At first sight this project may seem yacc (yet another covid control ) but this is a very valuable project with some interesting features, like the disinfection time based on the hand distance and the possibility to apply it to a wide range of different containers." - Community Member Judge

    "The Disinfector, simple project well explained." - Community Member Judge

    "A complete design based on a simple and sound solution for each aspect. Repeatable. Perfect Project14-style project." - Community Member Judge

    "Whilst this project essentially reused the casing from an existing piece of equipment, and I noted several other projects did the same, what I really liked about this was the LCD display...always nice to see a personalised project. The Arduino layout using Fritzing easily allows others to follow and replicate the project - always nice to see." - Community Member Judge


    WiFi9600 Modem by  baldengineer:


    Community Member Scoring:


    Grand Prize: 6 points  First Place:  2 points  Total Points: 8 Points


    baldengineer recollects crisp autumn days. Shortly after the sun goes down, the outside temperature drops enough that it's time to go inside. After washing up and eating some dinner, you have a choice. Watch the latest episode of "Cheers" or fire up the 386, log into The Hotel BBS, and play a round of Tradewars. For the 12-year-old version of him, there was only one choice. (and for the record, 40-year-old version would still pick the same one.) Back in the 90s, baldengineer had a blazing fast 9600 baud modem. Set next to his VGA monitor, this box tied up his family's only phone line while he communicated on message boards connected with FidoNet, spent countless hours trading ore in Tradewars, and used it for his earliest Internet access (PPP)! The modem was a Practical Peripherals (or sometimes called Practical Modems) 9600SA. As the name suggests, its maximum baud rate was 9600. It was a big clucky box. Also, it was loud. Not just the big speaker, but it had some very clicky relays. They would click when it turned on and again when connecting to the phone line. Today, Bulletin Board Services (BBSes) are still running. However, instead of connecting by phone lines, they operate with TCP/IP protocols like telnet and ssh. While modern computers have no problem connecting to these boards, vintage computers need an internet-capable modem. A popular option is a device that is generally called "WiFi232." It is an ESP8266 that talks serial to a computer and WiFi to the internet. It emulates correct modem speeds. In comparison, he could have just bought one of those but that would not have been much fun. WiFi9600 Modem retro-cycles his childhood Practical Perpherials 9600SA RS-232RS-232 based modem to use the Internet. The goal of the project is to enable his vintage computers to telnet to modern BBSes. (Which, of course, is so that he can play Tradewars 2002!) For an authentic experience, the modem emulates proper baud rates, plays modem connecting sounds, and replicates the front panel LEDs from his original modem.


    WiFi9600 Modem: Introduction and Prototype Demo

    "Great Project, reminds me of my own youth, using modems and bbs's. Very detailed description, great video."  - Community Member Judge

    "Wifo 9600 Modem, great project extremely well documented." - Community Member Judge


    "A perfect trip to the past through this well-executed Wifi9600 modem project. The sound of the modem beeping made this project really stand out in the competition. Other than that Baldengineer has amused us with his video and presentation skills." - Community Member Judge

    "WiFi9600 by the Bald Engineer. This project may not seem as attractive nor interesting as the others but James has delved into many aspects of engineering in its creation. Also very impressively he has shared all of that knowledge in a very well written series of blogs, more than enough steps to allow readers to replicate and learn and he did so enthusiastically." - Community Member Judge 

    Mr. Machine gets an upgrade by genebren:


    Community Member Scoring:


    Grand Prize: 2 points  First Place:  5 points  Total Points: 7 Points


    Just a bit of history about  genebren's love of Mr. Machine.  As a child, he was very lucky to have owned the original Mr. Machine, 60's era, which you constructed and could disassemble.  His older brother had one too, which ended up getting broken (he was much harder on his toys than genebren), so he had spare/extra parts for his own.  He doesn't know what happened to Mr. Machine over the years (he was part of a large and chaotic household).  Many years later, genebren's mother found a 70's version in an antique shop and bought it for him as a gift (birthday/christmas?).  He is in good shape and he did not want to damage/modify it, so he recently bought one off of eBay to be a stunt double and to be the donor for the upcycle project. The donor Mr. Machine arrived and during the disassembly process he noticed a problem, one of his arms was badly damaged.  Double checking the eBay post, sure enough a crack is visible (barely), so at least he was sure that he did not cause the damage.  Still he had already turned his donor into a box full of parts, so he was not likely to be able to return it.  He did not want to enter the contest with a broken arm, nor did he want to re-print an arm (too much trouble and muddying the waters between recycle and new construction), so back to eBay to find another reasonably inexpensive donor. This time he found a Mr. Machine that had damage to it's other arm.  Hopefully he will now have enough of original parts to build a single Mr. Machine. For the most part he's written enough code to exercise the basic functions of the three boards that make up Mr. Machines electronics.  There was a fair amount of hacking involved to get some of the functions to work and the once pristine PCBs look like that have survived a war.  The most glaring of errors occurred in the LED dimmer circuit.  He used the dimmer chip (TLC59731) before in another product, but it was a single LED channel.  In copying the circuit (which he designed a few years ago), he failed to remember that I single MOSFET in the serial path was both a switch (to suppress other serial traffic) and an inverter.  The inverter is used to invert the uart output to match the requirements of the dimmer chips requirements, so without it, he0 was unable to program the LEDs.  Also, due to the use of multiple LED dimmers he needed to work out a method of injecting a fixed width low signal between programming bursts.  This one took a bit of head scratching, but he ended up using a time interrupt to signal when the serial stream should resume.


    Mr. Machine gets an upgrade


    "A fun and ambitious project, a lot of skill was shown in developing the printed parts to upgrade the original toy. Plenty of detail of the project was developed over multiple engaging blogs." - Community Member Judge

    "Great project, very complete and detailed description, nice video." - Community Member Judge

    "Mr Machine gets an upgrade by Gene. I think Gene has to win my the sheer quantity of photos – I love photos in a blog and it makes it really special and easy to follow what he has achieved. His desire to not modify the original toy is also very commendable and this is a great project. It even contains his own PCB designs, a project in its own right !" - Community Member Judge



    "WiFi9600 Modem by  baldengineer - This is a project that centered the mood of the challenge. Not in my absolute preferences but deserves to be one of the winners for the very professional quality of the building." - Community Member Judge

    "Mr. Machine gets an upgrade by genebren - I Liked this project, it is always a pleasure to see a toy from the past transformed in something better and new. But... The sound?" - Community Member Judge

    "Wonderful project using a very interesting toy that has a personal connection with the author.  Gene overcame numerous issues this very challenging project.  I flipped several times on whether to give this the grand prize." - Community Member Judge

    "Thank you Genebren for bringing Mr.Machine to life again. Reading your blogs literally put me on the edge of my seat. I was worried about whether or not you will finish it on time. And you completed it beautifully." - Community Member Judge

    The Runners Up

    Runners Up:


    The following members received first place votes.


    Convert a PC PS to a Bench Power Supply by dougw:


    dougw  has a collection of old PCs from various scavenging activities. Somehow he just couldn't seem to pass up opportunities to acquire "free" PCs. They are probably all working, but he doesn't actually have a use for them as computers. He had "intended" for a long time to scavenge whatever might be repurposed off some of these computers - disk drives, power supplies, heat sinks, etc. But even for those items, he doesn't have a pressing need. He did make several attempts to design a conversion to create a bench power supply from the PC power supplies, because in the past he always seemed to need more power supplies, and they can be pretty expensive to buy. He bought connectors and binding posts and even designed a couple of versions of PCB to get started. However he always stalled when trying to come up with a reasonable (cheap) way to package the bench supply. This Projec14 Upcycling theme is a good excuse to finally put a complete supply together.


    Convert a PC PS to a Bench Power Supply


    "Doug Wong has made it look easy. 3D printed case looks carefully planned and neat. I have been meaning to make a bench power supply for myself and this project motivates me to do so." - Community Member Judge


    "PC Bench Power Supply, Great project easy to make." - Community Member Judge

    Soldering fume extractor from a broken microwave and soldering iron by  apreed:


    A fume extractor for soldering is something that Iapreed  wanted for a long time now, however he's always ended up having more important things to spend his money on. Fundamentally they are pretty simple, at the bare minimum just a fan to pull the fumes away is all that is needed. Conveniently, his microwave died recently and upon dissection for useful components he discovered (among other things) a large mains AC powered fan plus housing in the back of it. He removed this and tested it to check that it still worked. Because the fan runs straight off the mains it was easy to power, and it also moved a decent volume of air. He therefore decided that this would make a good starting point for a home-built fume extractor. Although not strictly necessary, it would be nice if the extractor fan speed was adjustable so that you could control the rate of air flow and level of noise.  Fortunately, his pile of broken electronics was able to provide here too. His trusty old Maplin adjustable soldering iron bit the dust a few months ago when the heating coil went open-circuit.  While investigating to see whether it would be repairable, he discovered that the temperature adjustment dial on the base simply varied the output voltage supplied to the iron between roughly 50-210V, like a dimmer switch. He connected the iron lead to the fan, to test whether this would work for controlling the fan speed. This worked perfectly, so he disassembled the iron and removed the small control board for fitting inside the fan housing.  The existing fan housing was designed to be inside a microwave, where it didn't matter that the back side of the fan was completely exposed.  Obviously this won't be suitable for use on a bench, as various detritus such as fingers would find their way into the fan while it was spinning. He had an old fan guard lying around, most likely from an old PC, which was about the right size to cover the back face of the fan. Due to the way the fan protrudes out from the housing this alone wouldn't be sufficient though, as it didn't protect the sides. To make a shroud for the sides of the fan he hunted through the various collections of scrap plastic available to him, and settled on an old Maltesers tub that happened to be almost the perfect size to fit around the fan. His Dad has been using it to carry waste around in the garden for the past 10+ years, so the decals on the outside have had a hard time but the plastic itself seems sound.


    Soldering fume extractor from a broken microwave and soldering iron

    "Very useful, a real recycling project. I'm missing some details, e.g. schematics in the description." - Community Member Judge


    "This project made the use of multiple redundant items destined for junk to produce a full functional extractor that would be a valuable addition to any makers bench." - Community Member Judge


    LiFi Pi Lamp by  ritvi:


    ritvi is an undergraduate student pursuing engineering majoring in electronics and telecommunications. While she loves her subjects there is nothing that helps her learn better than reverse engineering devices. This month's theme was perfect to show off her retrofitting experiments. She comes from a sustainable living obsessed family and hence recycling and upcycling things is second nature to her. Adding to this, she's been playing around with Li-fi applications for a while now, and she loves how simply one can start implementing it in their houses and so she tried to add that here as well. So what did she recycle? She started with the bluetooth speakers that she had opened a while to understand the circuitry and hopefully reuse soon. She was planning to redo the bluetooth wiring but then she realized we could use a Pi, so she replaced the bluetooth part of the speaker with Pi and the speaker was replaced by LEDs on the lamp, and the speaker has been connected to solar panels. So this is the first iteration of what she want to finally implement. For ease of explanation she used a speaker which already has a powered amplifier circuit, in her final implementation she will deploy her own amplifier circuit


    LiFi Pi Lamp

    "From light to sound with a solar panel was a great experiment." - Community Member Judge   



    RaspberryPI VU-EDITOR  by sebathorus:


    For Recycle&Retrofit monthly project, sebathorus tried to bring a new life to an old OHNAR VU-EDITOR.  He bought this device few years ago at a flea market and since he'd seen it he knew he'd fit some kind of electronics and display on it. Although have no manufacturing date on it, he found this type was built around 60s-70s and was used to edit 8mm film reels. It was in a non-working condition so it was a perfect candidate for a retrofit job. He kept its original look as much as he could, only few cuts and holes here and there. To bring this guy into 2020 (not the best year but...) he decided to make it a Linux computer with the help of an Raspberry Pi and few accessories. His aim was to use for this project for other stuff he had around the house and buy new stuff as little as possible. Power is supplied by a laptop power adapter (18V/4.58A) and a DC-DC converter (5A). He choose this converter because it accepts input voltage up to 37V and he thought he might make this thing portable by using a 3S Li-Po pack instead of wall adapter. He used a hacked USB hub to provide power and connectivity to RPi and peripherals (audio/keyboard/etc).  A recycled USB front connector from old PC - for front 5V only.   Audio uses a USB sound card + small amplifier and speaker (probably from some USB powered speakers, it works well on 5V).  The initial keyboard was recovered from an old/non-working tablet cover+keyboard combo.  It worked for few weeks then one day stopped.  He replaced it with a mini wireless keyboard, as a plus, this one has a touch pad and Linux was able to recognize/use the media buttons without any extra configuration.  The 5 inch display is configured to use only original frame area. Pico HAT HACKER to bring RPI pins to front panel for easy access to them.  A Raspberry Pi 3B with Buster.


    RaspberryPI VU-EDITOR


    In the comments below:


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