With the economy how it is, people are trying to find good ways to earn an extra bit of cash here and there. One way you can accomplish this is by recycling aluminum cans (if you drink a lot of soda and such). It’s not a terribly difficult thing to do, as it merely requires the effort to crush each one and toss it into a bag. Once you have enough, take it down to your local recycling center and get your cash. Of course, if you’re the type of person who likes to have a machine do all of your work for you, then you can build a device to do a couple of these steps for you.
This Arduino Controlled Can Crusher is a great way to not only crush your cans, but to let you know how much aluminum you’ve collected† in the bag. You’ll need a number of spare parts to get this one going, if you’re on a budget. The Arduino, motor and LCD should be the most expensive parts of the build. Once you’re finished, you need only drop your empty cans in the hopper, and let the machine do the rest. You’ll even be able to figure out how much money you’ve collected (if you know the going rate of aluminum), since it keeps track of the total weight of the cans it has crushed.