Unknown Domain

Cable Rewind

Another aspect of this project to be examined is the cable rewind mechanism, I have found assemblies online for replacement, but I think I will wait until I take apart the Dyson as I can save buying one this way.


I have been having a look at how I might create suction using motors and initially thought about using a ‘standard’ motor what ever that might be, however I soon realised that the motors inside all vacuum cleaners are specialised for their purpose.

I have found a few companies who make vacuum cleaner motors, with little actual effort:

I specifically looked at YDK vacuum cleaner motors and compiled a list of all the 240V motors and their ‘specifics’:

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I discovered that the vacuum presure is measured in Pascals and that the airflow is measured in Decimetres which is essentially able to convert into litres per second. Interestingly they seem to use dm³/s which seems to be to make the numbers look bigger as dm³/s is just an order of magnitude smaller than m³/s (a decimetre is basically ⅒ of a meter or 10 centimetres).

I was quite shocked at the short life these motors have and at the rotational frequency (RPM)!

With the idea of off the shelf being important, I wonder if using a replacement part from a popular or frequently repaired vacuum might be a better way to go, rather than trying to buy from the manufacturer.

Cyclone Separator

379009317722Inspired by a video I saw a while I have set about trying to build a cyclone separator.

A cyclone separator is essentially what inspired James Dyson to make the cyclone vacuum cleaner. It works using the simple principal of centrifugal force. Air contaminated with particulate matter is sucked into a conical or cylindrical shaped chamber, the air enters at the top of the chamber parallel with the wall. The air is forced to flow around the curve of the wall, forming a vortex. Through centrifugal force the vortex pushes the particulate matter out to the sides and against the wall of the chamber where it slows down and falls out the bottom of the chamber. The remaining air is sucked out the top by a motor fitted with a fan to create suction.

I built my cyclone separator using an upright vacuum cleaner someone gave me that had been converted for use in a wood workshop, it no longer had a brush bar at the bottom, handle or any tools, just a motor, dust bin, filters and a pipe coming out with a good amount of suction.

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Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 16.20.54I made a special trip to Robert Dyas to pickup a couple of items, such as a plastic cup and a measuring jug and used a few ends of plastic pipe too.

The end result was a rather bodged but working cyclone separator, which with a mesh filter would probably be quite effective! I did some testing with polystyrene balls but it happily picked up all the other light pieces on my desk, and wasn’t even that well sealed!

In the process of building this I did a bunch of research and found some other projects that were interesting:

This was the series of videos that inspired this experiment by Matthias Wandel:

I will post the results soon, but it’s good news!



Vax are another UK manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, they provide much less info about their company than Dyson but here above I found out about a Cardboard eco friendly vacuum cleaner they have designed with a student on placement.

Below is an image showing a prototype through to production, perhaps cardboard prototyping is more common than I thought.


Cardboard Prototyping


Screen Shot 2013-01-01 at 20.24.33I recently attended Geek Lates a science fair for geeks in East London, there were a number of stalls where you could go at set times and learn about a certain area of expertise.

One of the stalls was about Cardboard Prototyping by a clever designer/maker from Dyson called Jude Pullen, who calls it Design Modeling, and has produced a series of videos and details about this on his website.

I also did some more research and found some other people showing clever uses for it.

Looking around I found the above and below images of some of their prototypes…




James Dyson Foundation


The kind people at the James Dyson Foundation have kindly provided me with a Dyson DC11 vacuum cleaner to destroy, I mean take apart and analyse!

I have ordered some test equipment to allow me to take some measurements of it before and during the disassembly process.

What is the Open Source Vacuum Cleaner?

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My final masters project at the RCA will focus on my main interest, and the area of my dissertation.

This project is inspired by the maker community, people who are hacking, tinkering and constructing their own DIY kits and projects to produce useful, bespoke or repaired items for fun and learning. These people have an open and liberal approach to sharing their work.

Over the course of the next two months I am running a series of workshops to kickstart a community effort to build a open source vacuum cleaner, the vacuum cleaner will be designed to be home manufactured using, where possible standard, easily obtainable parts.

I will be running a series of workshops to kick-start the process of creating a community around this object.

Blog Takeover

Over the next three months I am going to be focusing hard on my Open Source Vacuum Cleaner Project, and documenting it through this blog, just as I have with my Split-Flap Display project in the past.

More details about this project to follow…