Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

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Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby nes » January 27th, 2011, 10:01 am

Oh hai new forum. I've been looking for somewhere to post and get tips on what consumer items tend to yield what useful stuff. You know, like a Im-me buys you a pair of TI/Chipcon RF microcontrollers and a handy dev system, or a 3.5" hard disk will give up a really good three phase motor and drive electronics. Is this the right place or do you know somewhere better?

If you want to join in here, I'll kick off with the 3.5" drives. Handfuls of bust ones can be had for free at any PC repair shop if you ask nicely...
  • 1 or 2 really strong neodymium magnets
  • three phase motor with ultra smooth bearings
  • controller ASIC for motor + all required components (leave the controller board intact and cut the pair of traces from the CPU and inject your own PWM signal)
  • .1" pitch headers (good for AVR or PIC ISP connections)
  • SPI eeprom, usually about 1 or 2Mb
  • A 3.3V 3 terminal voltage regulator
  • Molex style 4-pole power connector
  • big chunk of light alloy (maybe good for a heatsink or for metal casting if you've got your own foundry)
  • 1 or more shiny aluminium disks
  • SMT capacitors, especially high value MLCs and tantalums (get a multimeter with capacitance function if you want to know the values though)
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby Error 404 » January 27th, 2011, 11:46 am

I think this is an excellent idea!

Scanners/Printers - Easy to find dead ones. Contain fun things such as...

  • Stepper motors - Usually bipolar, very useful
  • LCD/LED displays - Anything from 7-segment to GLCD
  • Lots of hook-up wire
  • Tons of connectors, may be .1", usually something else
  • Discrete/Passive components - Tons
  • (Depending on the model) Digital logic chips
  • (Sometimes) EEPROM/flash memory in SMD packages
  • Many, many gears/wheels/belts/sprockets
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RC toys

Postby Tomato » January 27th, 2011, 12:46 pm

You see so many RC toys around and they're usually only superficially damaged:

  • Motors and associated gear boxes.
  • H bridge circuits
  • transmitter receiver pair
  • passive components
  • battery boxes
  • NIMH / NI-CAD batteries and chargers
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby Acedork » January 27th, 2011, 12:48 pm

Definitely a great topic idea! Wish I'd had a reference like this back when I was first salvaging parts. My observation has been that the best sources for usable circuit components are generally not newer consumer electronics (IC's and microcontrollers aren't very useful when they've got a hundred pins crammed into 1 square inch). Here are a couple of item that have been good to me:

Old network switches & hardware are a dime a dozen if you work anywhere near an office or IT facility. Now granted, most of the heavy lifting in these pieces is done with surface mount components and custom IC's, so in that respect they're not very useful, HOWEVER:
  • Free regulated power supplies! Pretty easy to mount in projects, since they don't come in those plastic/epoxy enclosures. This also means you can get a bunch of other components:
  • Transformers
  • Capacitors
  • Inductors
  • Resistors
  • Semiconductors (diodes, transistors, etc.)

Non-digital thermostats. I've picked up several of these lying in electronics junk piles:
  • A full complement of components listed above
  • Mercury switches!

I'll post more when I think of them.
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby Stephanie » January 27th, 2011, 1:01 pm

Old CD-Roms have a lot of usefull stuff
  • Usually 1 DC motor
  • 1 stepper motor with corkscrew gear
  • 1-2 plastic gears
  • 2-3 micro switches
  • Lasers! and some optics.
  • 3 rare earth magnets (one donut shaped and 2 square/rectangular)
  • 1-2 magnetic sensors? Not sure because I never tried using one.

The main stepper motor may or may not be usable, along with the motor control chips.
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby PhilKll » January 27th, 2011, 3:16 pm

I like old VCR's myself, have had real good luck with them, plus they are so unwanted I've found it hard to even give a working one away. Also computer power supplies. Both of them contain all sorts of thru hole components.

Lots of good wire (PSU's)
Misc. IC's
Misc Transistors/FETs
Motors and misc odd parts(vcr)
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby Volectorus » January 27th, 2011, 3:24 pm

Spent Disposable Cameras (Free from Drugstores if you are nice)

    300v Capaciter (may vary)

and more, i dont have one on me right now.
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby zool » January 27th, 2011, 4:08 pm

disposable cameras can also be used to drive a couple nixie tubes
i also like VCRs for motors buttons and VFD displays

ferite core
buttons (sometimes hard to find "radio buttons")
small motor
cheap slide potentiometers
3.5mm jack
1/4inch jack
CD stepper motor
CD motor

Power Suplies:
several big capacitors
large resistors
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby wellernumber7 » January 27th, 2011, 4:43 pm

Acedork wrote:Old network switches & hardware are a dime a dozen if you work anywhere near an office or IT facility.

As well as the components that you mention you also get a pretty nice case. I've had several really nice 1U 19" rack cases, and all they needed was a new fascia.
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Re: Salvaging stuff / any good tips?

Postby acomputerdog » January 27th, 2011, 4:46 pm

Computer speakers are good for a lot of stuff, and they are cheap and easy to find:

2+ speakers, depending on the quality/ model
1+ 3.1 mm jacks
1+ 3.1 mm connectors
audio amplifier chip
1+ potentiometers
power supply
1/4 inch jack
other audio jacks/ connectors

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