It seems that everyone that knows me, knows me pretty well so when they have something that they don't want they give it to me. This weeks not so interesting blog entry is about just such a thing! What was given to me was a Panasonic fax and phone system. Most people these days don't use fax machines and I am one of them so as soon as I got it I thought "That darn thing is probably chock full of cool stuff!!!" I took it home and I put it in my garage right next to all the other stuff in there...
Today turned out to be the day to open it up and marvel at all it's internal wonders. Otto Jr. and I grabbed a couple of screw drivers and went to town on this thing. It only lasted about 10 minutes under our intense pulling, unscrewing and otherwise breaking.
Many times people ask me "Why is it you just take this stuff apart that people give you?" The answer to that is obvious "Do you know how much crap people give me and how much room all that junk takes up?!?" I take it apart not only because there is neat stuff inside these types of things but also because once broken into it's constituent parts it all takes up so much less room. Another reason that I take it apart is because yes of course I want my own reality TV show but no I don't want that show to be an episode of Hoarders.
Above is a picture of most of the neat things that came out of it. The most useful is probably the power supply that powered this contraption. The power supply (not in the picture above) has 115VAC in and +5,+8 and +24 VDC out so it looks to be pretty useful. I'll probably put it into it's own box with a switch and use it to power other fun experiments. I was hoping that the motors in this would be DC motors but unfortunately they are stepper motors. Stepper motors are cool and useful for some things but generally they are a pain to use in home made stuff because they require some control logic - you can't just hook a battery to them to make them spin.
By comparing the pictures above you can see that there isn't much left once Otto Jr. and I take something apart. I will actually throw away the PC boards as well once my son is done playing with them. Basically the power supply and the gears are all that I'll keep.
Lastly the other bit of insight I get when taking stuff like this apart is how it was put together. I am a designer by profession and I get paid to figure out how to design things so that they will be easy to assemble, service and cost effective to fabricate. Fax machines, printers and pretty much everything else is always interesting to me in that regard, especially if it is broken. How stuff doesn't work is the best way to figure out how to design things that do work.