Posts Tagged With: electronics

ScrapHappy May 2020: I can’t believe it’s not a battery holder!


What on earth could you make with these bits of scrap (not the coaster, I need that to put my coffee on)?

I said I would do an electronics-based ScrapHappy because, you know, why not? This is a very simple thing but will be handy to, well, me because I build things from time to time that use these little coin batteries. They need a holder since soldering direct to them is pretty dangerous and makes replacement, well, pretty dangerous too.

So, all you need is a piece of insulating material (like cardboard, thin wood, or an offcut of plain stripboard like I have used here), a piece of stiff, uninsulated wire (an offcut from a component lead is what I used, about 2cms long) and a small bulldog clip (colour optional).

Put the ends of the wire through holes 0.5cm or so apart (long enough to provide a good base for the battery to sit on) and join the ends on the other side. These form your negative connection unless you put the battery in the other way up.


Then put the clip over as shown and remove the bottom handle (? Opening oojamaflip? Thing you press to open the clip). The top flippy-opener thing is the positive connection). Easy, huh?

Eh, voila! One battery clip for any number of coin cells from one to, oh I don’t know, let’s say three (actually, as many as will fit under the clip without pinging out at an inconvenient time).


Powering two-thirds of another thing built from scraps


Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at):

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon (me!), HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, Sue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin


Categories: ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

Shaving the Planet


A Razor and a tool to take it apart… guess what’s going to happen!

There are many things that irritate me in life. Rather than list them all here, I would just say check out Wikipedia, that covers most of them. One thing that not only gets my goat, but then slaughters it in some satanic ritual after which it claims supernatural powers, is the way electronic devices have non-replaceable rechargeable batteries.

I’ve banged on about this before – Chez Snail’s radio is a prime example (here it is, look). I suppose the issue stems from the fact that, these days, rechargeable batteries last a long time by which point I am supposed to be a good consumer and buy a new whatever-it-is.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen…

I have had my electric razor many, many years now. It has a winter break then is eased back into service as I go from full beard (winter plumage), through a goatee thing (Spring plumage), to no beard at all (Summer plumage), Autumn, much like life, is like spring but in reverse. So, I always knew that one day the internal battery in my razor would stop working properly.

That day arrived.

I psyched myself up to have a battle to get into the thing, let alone sort out the problem. There are two screws on the back that I had to enlarge to see what kind of screws they were – those security star-shaped things, as it turned out. My trusty £1 bargain bin tool was the one to use here. After the screws were removed, the whole case came off very easily so well done Philips for making that bit easy.


Joy! Easy to get into and nothing complicated to get in the way!

The battery was soldered to the board, which I expected.

The only problem I had was prising the battery off the sticky pad it was on – quite why it was attached like this, I don’t know since the back casing was moulded around the battery anyway. Never mind…


Old Battery Out…

Thirty minutes later and the job was done. I think the last battery lasted about ten years. I should get another decade out of this one!


…New Battery In

So, have a look at taking that device apart and replacing the rechargeable battery the next time – your nearest repair cafe/geeky me-type person/teenager will probably be able to help you save the planet, one battery at a time!


Categories: recycling, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

ScrapHappy June 2018: Got a couple of minutes?



A few weeks ago, the Chez Snail toothbrush gave up the ghost. Actually, it needed its internal rechargeable battery replacing but Braun, who make the thing, don’t want you to do that. So I did. And it didn’t work. I have no idea why, I just replaced the battery.

Anyway, we bought a new, less sophisticated toothbrush which didn’t have a built-in two-minute timer, so I thought I would build one out of old bits I had lying around. Yes, these are the things I have lying around – the Snailofhappiness has all the wool and fabric.


The box contained something (I forget what) and I have had it since about 1990. The metal to make the front panel is off the cover of a hard disk drive, from about 2011. The timer circuit was one I made earlier (2005 or so) for a project that clearly never made it past the “hmm” stage.


The LEDs are from an old mobile phone system that Motorola tried to introduce in the UK (I think it was called Rabbit or something). It never caught on. I and a friend bought an old roadside box and split the electronics within, in about 1994. These LEDs were a part of my haul.

The on/off switch comes from ever further back. In 1984/5, as part of my university degree, I worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in the UK. It was like going to work in a Sci-fi film everyday – I loved it! During my time there, the old temporary hut (temporary = built in World War II) where I worked was decommissioned (i.e. pulled down) and we all mucked in to fill the skip with old junk – much of which we then fished out when no one was looking to salvage. There were pieces of computing history in that skip, and if I had had a car back then… Anyway, the switch for this scrappy project came from that skip (along with about 100 of its friends that i am still working through today).

The battery clip came from a broken toy.

The buzzer was going to be from an old ultrasonic parking radar thing but that buzzer was rubbish so I bought this one from a company as it was going bust (so bought it half price).

A bit of finagling later and it all works! Flick the switch as you start to clean your teeth, the green LED shines encouragingly, then after two minutes, on comes the red LED accompanied by a buzzer. Unfortunately, the new buzzer is, like the one it replaced, also a bit rubbish and you can’t actually hear it above the sound of the toothbrush. It isn’t a problem but I may try to improve it one day (in the very far future).

Throughout the whole build, I kept singing “Three minute hero” by The Selecter but with the words “Two Minute Timer”. Try it for yourself!

The Selecter – Two Minute Timer (well, OK, nearly)

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked a non-fabric-based Scraphappy in when no one was looking!


…and Stop



Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

What’s in a… Compact Fluourescent Lightbulb?


“It came apart in me ‘and, honest Guv!”

First, a quick “Hello!” to everyone and a quick “Sorry!” for not having written anything for a while. I’m not sure where the time goes but, since my last post, I have been doing ‘things’ which seem to include not finishing the first draft of my third novel or figuring out what to do with the bits from… well what follows. I did build a snow dog…


A Miniature Snowzer

… but that probably isn’t relevant here so forget I mentioned it.

Whilst playing with Sam, a real flesh-and-blood dog, a light bulb was mortally injured and had to be put down, well, removed from the light fitting. Basically, the toy that I was throwing hit the hallway light and knocked the bulb out onto the carpet, where against all expectations and possibly a few laws of physics, it shattered. The bulb, not the carpet.


Opening the case is a Saw Point

Having cleaned up the glass (nasty in itself because of the thin mercury coating on the inside), I turned my attention to taking the rest of the thing apart. Actually, this was something I was intending to do and have had an old defunct bulb on my workbench for about a year now. Clearly this was a message from the universe telling me to stop waiting!

I had to saw the case in half – apparently other makes can be persuaded to open much more easily. This one, a cheap IKEA bulb, was moulded closed, presumably because it is easier to manufacture that way.


How the tube is connected


The Board with the nifty bits on









The components in this bulb will be similar to those in every type of lamp like this – even the mini CFL things we briefly used (they heat up so much that the holders warp and then they don’t work – a design flaw if ever there was one!). I think there will be a few slightly different components in the LED bulb that I bought and doesn’t work properly (unfortunately, the company I bought it from have failed to reply to my requests for a replacement).


In answer to the “What’s in” question…

Surprisingly, most of the components are standard sized ones – only a few resistors are the surface-mount variety, which is good because they are virtually unusable for hobbyists such as myself (you need a specialist soldering iron to remove them and re-use them easily).

From the left, the two things with three legs are transistors, then there are some inductors (coils of wire), a big capacitor (stores electric charge), five diodes, 3 small capacitors (store tiny amounts of charge) and a diac (that small blue thing, but probably wasn’t the one Suzanne Vega sung about). Below that is the circuit board and three surface-mount resistors.


There is a similar haul of components in the small CFL

The daft thing is that these electronic bits could be built into a holder that screwed into the light fitting (or just built into new light fittings), removing the need to have to keep building them. The bulbs would be easier to recycle then – just separate the base from the glass, and process the bits accordingly. At least one company can remove the mercury coating to produce safe, re-usable glass (well, it says so on their website so it must be true). I believe business premises have this arrangement in some places. Why not for the majority of users? Old fluorescent tubes had replaceable starters, after all.

I was hoping to have designed and built something using just these components and perhaps a solar cell, but haven’t managed to make something that works – yet. Watch this space!


Categories: recycling, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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