E-waste given second life at event

Kit Jackson, 5, of Karitane, gets to grips with a projected Pac-Man game at an electronic event...
Kit Jackson, 5, of Karitane, gets to grips with a projected Pac-Man game at an electronic event at the Dunningham Suite of the Dunedin City Library on Saturday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Dunedin volunteers turn trash into tunes in an event promoting the restoration and repurposing of electronic waste.

The Dunedin City Library hosted an event called Cool Sounds on Saturday - combining music with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).

The event was organised by a group of about five to 10 volunteers, all passionate about technology and giving new life to electronic waste (e-waste).

Volunteer Lee Nicolson said the event gave people the opportunity to play around with a collection of tech equipment, while repair advice was also given.

"We found keyboards and lots of things that are very fixable and it’s nice just to give them a tweak and put them back in circulation.

"Even stuff that seems like rubbish ... can be turned into something interesting," Mr Nicolson said. 

The event was supported by Dunedin’s Com2Tech, a community-led group focused on reducing the barriers of digital inclusion.

"There’s a lot of things that are discarded because there’s not really anybody in a position at the time to be discerning on the value of it.

"We’re really doing our best to catch what we can."

There was a wide range of old equipment being used at the event, such as old analog synthesizers, 1960s Italian wind organs, and Mr Nicolson's daughter’s keyboard which had been modified with pitch controllers and optical sensors.

Mr Nicolson said it was "really exciting to see people having fun".

"In the long run, we’re hoping to be organised enough to have workshops and utilise donated equipment to be reassembled into the materials for that workshop so it’s affordable or even free to the public."

He stressed the importance of reducing e-waste and recommended people reach out to them for repair advice.

"There’s just so many uses for everything, right down to Stem education, particularly like access to technology and repair and solving all that stuff for kids is just pretty difficult to find at the moment.

"We’re trying to communicate that it can be done very easily and affordably just by using things that people throw out."

Mr Nicolson hoped his team would be able to grow their reach and create new ways for people to experience Stem or "Steam" which involved art. 

"It’d be lovely to continue it in different iterations. I’d be nice for people to get on board and kind of create and share their own experiences and ideas."

The event was funded by the Dunedin City Council Waste Minimalisation Fund.