I watched the update to Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste. It was the programme that started to make interested in conservation issues regarding the amount of stuff we throw away yet it’s fit for use. This time round the programme was focusing less on food and more on other items that people throw away. This time I took note of something that was more to my speciality which I knew I could get involved with. This time I focused on an idea about electronics.
Back in the day of the great industrial capital that Britain was famous for there were plenty of skilled hands working in industry from plumbing to car mechanics to electricians. Every child educated in school learnt a useful trade for the benefit of the economy and their own housekeeping procedures. One type of engineer was the hobbyist who built electronic gadgets for fun. This was before ordinary people bought computers as consumer products but unlike today’s home computers these were not something that disposed of when they reached the end of their usefulness or went out of fashion. The PC pioneers like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Micheal Dell and Clive Sinclair learnt their skills not in school but as hobbyists and they were able to create electronic gadgets using skills that could be applied to fixing the waste problem.
As it happens I have a collection of disassembled computer components that I have held onto over the years. These parts have come in useful for my own electronics projects building them for fun, just like the early home computer pioneers. That got me thinking about how to develop ways of recycling electronics. To help with the waste crisis I think we can use these old parts to save money on new electronic gadgets. They can also help to improve and make new peripherals to extend the practical applications of computers and other electronic gadgets. This also has the potential to inspire and develop the next generation of engineers. With the countless supply of gadgets out there to be thrown away you can use them to develop ideas to modify them. I still have an old teasmade that I am planning to modify using my skills as an electronic engineer.
There are some useful ways in which I can recommend you use your old PC parts. Lets start with hard drives. The hard drive is the component that holds the data on the machine: files, music, films, etc. There is a way in which you can save your hard drive after removing if from a PC and use it to get shed loads of more data. Go out and buy a hard drive enclosure. They cost about £6 – £12 each and they have a quick and easy fitting procedure. I have several hard drives and I have a number of hard drive enclosures which I use to recycle the drives and save on buying new drives.
RAM chips are useful for upgrading your computers, they work by providing memory space for a PC to perform a task like the playing of a video or a song or a game. I have saved some of them to improve the performance of my laptop in the future upping it from 2GB to 8GB of RAM to speed up the loading process. They are also useful for building your own PC. If you take a look behind the showcase of brand spanking new computers in PC world and look into the computer parts available in Maplins you’ll find bits and pieces that can allow you to build a PC to the specifications that are better than most of those which are currently on the market.
The best way to get people recycling electronics is to turn them into hobbyist engineers. Inspiring people to take up the kind of skillset that their makers had. Schools now teach coding in computer science lessons and some teach building computers as part of the curriculum. Never mind playing computers, teach them how to make them better than what the manufacturers have got. I’ve got plans to buy a second hand laptop and modify it with some new components.