by Sonia, Faria, Elias, & Jessenia

1st Imagine: 

The Problem

Not that many people recycle properly because of the troubles of sorting out cans, paper, and plastic. Even though there are different types of recycling bins for each things, people don’t usually get attracted to recycling that much. 

What We Will Build

We want to build a recycling bin that has 3 slots on the inside for papers, plastics, and cans. Each slot will have pressure plates on the bottom which will be keeping track of how much stuff has been recycled and give the amount through scratch programming. We plan to do this through Makey Makey. It will be made out of wood and have a quote about recycling on top of the bin.

Intended Audience

We intend on putting these onto schools or in parks and they can also be in homes. 

How it will help

It could help schools teach their students about recycling through a fun process and they can even get money from it. there can be a point system that teachers can use and give their students extra points for recycling. Students can come in to us and build the whole bin with us, so we can teach them too. 

3 most important things it will do

  • It will help kids learn about recycling in a fun way.
  • It will help people keep track of how much they are recycling
  • Students will be able to learn about pressure plates and Makey Makey through working with us to make bins to their schools.

Most important parts and features:

The most important parts are the pressure plates under each of the slots for the recyclables. We are intending on getting the amount of recyclables through the plates.

3 technologies we might need

  • Scratch
  • Makey makey
  • Fab Lab

Our sketch of the project 


Handmade prototype 1.0!



2nd Imagine:

The Problem

People do not recycle properly because of the hassle of separating cans and bottles and are not drawn to recycling because they think recycling might not be fun.

Our Solution

We are trying to make a more efficient  system for recycling that separates cans and bottles by itself after a button is pressed or if someone says whether they are recycling “cans” or “plastic”. This bin would have both a voice recognition system and buttons to press for the types of recyclables. 

Technology & Modules Utilizer

Fab Lab

– To make the recycling box from cutting out wood 


– to design the recycling instructions


– To program the motors


– We are using arduino to program buttons

Concepts & Design

image image copy 2

image copy


We have programed one servo motor to act as the sorting mechanism for putting cans and bottles into the 2 different cans. The motor is programmed with Modkit. The prototype reflects our idea of having one hole in the top of the bin for either cans or plastics, and it has buttons that help move each item onto the bins. 

Materials Needed

  • BitVoicer 1.2
  • Wood
  • Paint
  • Motor
  • Bottles 
  • Cans 

The Audience / Consumer

The audience is people in cities and schools where it would be easier to recycle properly. There is a motors system that would  sort cans and bottles into different bins. It is useful because it makes recycling cans and bottles more efficient .



Update Log / Journal

  • 07/08/2014 — 

    Imagining   R3

    Group members : Sonia , Feria , Jessenia , Elias

    What is problem are you  solving or what issue are you addressing ?

    We are trying to make a more efficient  system for recycling and a more efficient tracking system  as well.

    What will you build?

    A recycling bin  with 1 hole for a plastic bottles  cans that will sort the bottles into plastic and cans into the cans

    Who will use it ?

    People who recycle, possibly the city, companies.

    How will it help ?

    I t could help the city know which sections which area of the city recycle which items more with or actually having to humans count the things .

    What are the 3 most important things it will do ?

    -Sort cans plastic bottles into their places .

    – Make recycling more efficient .

    -Help the gang green movement go forward.

    What are its most important parts of features ?

    -The most important part is the separating system because its doing the smart work  of putting the cans where they go and putting the bottles where they go .

    What are the three technologies you imagine needing and how will you use each ?

    • Kinect – recognize shapes  of cans and bottles

      • program to recognize faces

      • bottles

      • arizona

      • pepsi

      • cans

    • Arduino

      • to program the servo motors

    • fab lab

      • to make the recycling bin exteriors


  • image (1)

    The audience  is cities. There is a database system  that  would  sort  cans and bottles . It is useful because it makes recycling cans and bottles more efficient .


  • 10/09/2014 — 

    10 questions about Recycling Power that need answering:

What things are actually able to be recycled?

-Cans and plastics only.

How will we incorporate speech recognition into the bin?

– There will be a mic that will be attached to Arduino which is all going to be programmed onto a microcontroller.  

 How do we get people to want to recycle?

– It is a recycling bin that saves you from sorting out cans and plastics by yourself and so a more efficient and interactive recycling bin can attract a lot of people.

Why is it important to have both buttons and a speech recognition system?

– If the area is too loud and the recyclables do not get sorted out, people can press the buttons.

 How do we make a recycling bin aesthetically pleasing to the general public?

– We are going to have the front with clear acrylic so people can see what goes on inside.

 What major cooperation can contribute to this idea and helping it become more widely known?

Environmental cooperations and other organizations can buy this product and make more of them to encourage recycling.

  Would the design be difficult? How would we design it?

The design is very simple since it is made of wood and a wooden box is easy to make.

 What materials would be difficult to get?

We think that getting the proper servo motors would be difficult to get.

 Could this project ever be reduced to a DIY?

If we make instructables for people then it might be easy to make except the fact that they might not b able to program it. 

 How will this be powered?

Battery source

 5 keywords to Google about Recycling Power:


1. Recycling

2. servo motors

3. Speech software

4. wood DYI

5.Environmental projects


3 examples of products that have parts like Recycling Power:



Smart Recycle Bins & Treadmills for Gamers 


This is a smart recycling bin that tracks and targets ads at passing pedestrians. This is similar to ours because it is a step up from normal recycling bins and instead combines them with technology.


Target’s Recycling Program One Year Later


This is a sectioned off recycling bin that Target uses to make the recycling in and around their stores much more effective.

3. Use a DIY Pressure Plate Switch to Automate Your Haunted House


This is a DIY on how to use pressure plates.


3 DIY Projects that we can “steal” from:


How To Set Up a Home Recycling Station That Works


This DIY is about organizing recycling and making it much easier for the person to reuse it later.


DIY Pantry Recycling Center Makeover


This DIY is an easy to make recycling bin. They use very accessible materials and a simple step by step process.


16 Ways to Organize Your Recycling


This another very good, easy, and cheap way to organize your recycling into bags and not have to buy bins.


3 Internet Sites that have technical information we need:

1. Scratch Alarm


The technical information that we need is how to connect the pressure plates to the makey makey and how the wiring is set up. This source helps us a lot with that because it gives us guidance as to how to start our project.

2. PicoBoard


The information that we found on this website could possibly help us if we choose to incorporate more sensors into our scratch program as a way to advance our project forward even more.

3. Get smart about metal detectors : Plastics technology


The information this link provides is about metal detectors. From it we can learn about whether to put some type of detection system inside the bin to detect what type of can is put in and if it is recyclable or not.

Identify 3 Pro’s and Con’s for your project:


It encourages people to recycle more while also being effective.

Makes sorting trash and recycling material more efficient.

Recycling items will not be contaminated.



Might be hard to move from place to place.

Could be difficult to place because of its need for power.

Wet materials can make the box malfunction.

  • 07/10/2014 — Today we finished our second prototype and finalized the idea of us using a voice sensor to control the trash can and which recyclables go where. 
  • 07/14/2014 —  Today Sonia and Faria figured which hardware we want to use with the software that we chose. And Elias started planning on how we will make our new and final design. Jessenia helped with fixing the prototype properly so it would move. We also had our Design Review.
  • Some of the  feed back that we had is below:

    Make it into a game (pinball game to have it toss around the recycling until it lands in)

    Have 3 different slots connecting from top to bottom.

    Make it pretty

    Buttons + Voice

    Recognize where the can or bottle exactly is.

    Make giant flipper.

    Don’t have voice recognition

    LCD Screen for taping

    After that as a group, we went over the feedback and decided what we wanted to change for our project and took the suggestions into consideration.

  • 07/15/2014 — Today we finalized our post design review design together. We sat down together and discussed each detail and suggestions from yesterday, that we got from the design review. We figured out that we wanted our recycling bin to have 2 slots, one for cans and one for plastic. We want it to be able to recognize speech when someone says “can” or “plastic” and have motors that have flaps attached to them, which pushes the recyclables onto each bin. We figured out that we want the front side of the bin to be clear and use acrylic so that people can see what goes on inside. We also agreed upon having buttons for when speech can not be recognized. We will have flaps for the cans or plastics to rest upon and that would open up upon pressing buttons or saying what type of object it is. After we had a clear idea of what we wanted our recycling bin to do, we all started our new prototype. Elias fabricated and put together the box for prototype # 2. Jessenia worked on using Gimp for the sign of our new design. Faria drew the new detailed drawing of our bin. Sonia and Elias both worked on programming the two servo motors and aren’t successful because Modkit is not cooperating properly.  
  • photo
  • 07/16/2014  – Today we worked mainly on finishing our new prototype and proving the technological aspect of our new design. Elias worked on the programming for the motors connected to the flaps in ModKit. Faria researched about the different kinds of servo motors and which ones would be helpful on Adafruit. Sonia cut out the new flaps for the prototype. And Jessenia finished the sign for the instructions on GIMP. In the afternoon, Sonia and Faria made phone calls and researched different wood sellers to see which place is best fit for the wood needed to make our final box. Elias and Faria also put together the prototype after proving that the motors work. Jessenia assisted them in assembling it. 
  • 07/17/2014 – The flaps for our new prototype is done. Elias worked on it and programmed with Modkit. 

modkit  flapcode


 Sonia has figured out how to order the wood and how to cut the sheet wood that we will get. 


Today we also cut wood using power tools. 











07/22/2014  Today we started making our final flaps and seeing if our design is going to work with the sizes that we chose. We selected the acrylic that we wanted to use because it was very thin and light. Then, Elias laser cut it because it was a little too long. Once it was down to the right size we attempted to hot glue the pieces together before realizing that press fitting them would work better because that ensures that the pieces to the flaps will stay together. However, the laser cutter was not working correctly so it took longer than needed to do this part of the flaps. We also selected the buttons that we are going to use in addition to the speech recognition. We chose one green and one white because it is good recycling colors. 


We also made a diagram of what the electronic will look like for the final and how they will work on the inside of the recycling bin. 

 photo (1)

 Jessenia gets her electric saw power tool on and prototypes Arduino powered parallel circuit LEDs for the interactive recycling station!


JesseniaSeriesLightsRCube JesseniaPowerToolToo











Today Sonia and Elias cut out the rest of the wood. Jessenia worked on the voice software. Jessenia got the BitSophia voice software and started figuring out how it works. Elias started building the box however he had a minor setback with the wood cracking. Brad help him fix it and the box should be done by tomorrow. Sonia worked on the motor and the flap and found out we needed two motors. What we need to do tomorrow is finish the box, make the box of the Ardunio, and work on the voice recognition.


07/24/2014 – Today Elias finished nailing together the box. Jessenia helped him with putting it together. Sonia started to look at the programming for the voice recognition and tried to make progress in that. We also got a bread board from Susan and that made everything  a lot easier because that is what we needed to continue with the voice recognition software. 



7/30/2014 Today Sonia and Jessi  were trying to figure out how to connect the buttons to the Arduino. The code was complicated so they got help from Beckett but there is  more to do . Elias , Sonia and Jessi built the door of the box out of acrylic and wood . Getting the pieces to line up was hard .

picture picture 2




So what happened today was we attached the front to the rest of the box, which is the door for when the bins are full they can be empty. What we plan on doing now is either use magnets or velcro to hold the door closed. Once we do that we should be almost done with the box. We also plan on putting 100% focus on the programming the flaps and motors so that we can attach them asap.


Today we worked on making the motor turn when we press the button. We couldn’t make it work, so we asked Beckett for help, but he didn’t know why it wasn’t working.


Today we worked on the buttons using these two tutorials. We got some help from Ming, but are still having trouble making it work.

Button: http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Button

Sweep: http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/sweep


On Friday Elias, Jessi, and Ming figured out how to make the button turn on the motor. Today Elias and Alex worked on furthering the program for the motor. Sonia worked on the parallel circuit for the LED lights and is almost done. Jessi also worked on the BitSophia software.


Today Elias, Sonia and Jessi were all teaching for most of the day. When we got back in the afternoon, we talked to Ming, who knows a lot about computers and programming. During that conversation we decided to change the design of the flaps from 2 flaps to 1. We also changed the material of the flaps to something that is lighter than acrylic and will be easier for the motor to move. We are going to use a thick white plastic-y material. 


Today Sonia got the buttons to work with the flap so that one button makes it rotate one direction and the other button makes it rotate the other direction. Jessi made the piece of acryllic that will hold the buttons and then figured out how to resize the holes so the buttons will fit perfectly  inside. Elias drilled holes for the flap in the box. 

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