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Author Topic: Advice for tracking down old datasheets?  (Read 2559 times)
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Erie, Pa.
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I'm pretty new to this whole electronics thing, so I don't have a lot of parts lying around. Consequently, I decided to start tearing apart some old electronics (CD players, etc.) to see what parts I could liberate from them. So far I've managed to pull out four motors, a photointerrupter (apparently), a transformer, and some other stuff. I'm having trouble, though, tracking down datasheets for a lot of them (it should be noted that the CD player in question is from 1993).

So my question is this: those of you who make a habit of scavenging for parts, do you have any general advice on tracking down old datasheets? Sites with good archives, catalogs to look at, general search strategies?
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Phoenix, Arizona USA
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I hate to break it to you, but when it comes to most consumer electronics post-1990 or thereabouts, you won't find much in the way of information about the parts based on the data on the chips or elsewhere.

For ICs and such - your best bet is to compare the chip with a comparable chip from the same manufacturer, and see if the part numbers have a similar pattern. Some of these might be so out of date, that even if you go to the manufacturer's web site (or call them directly), it is obsolete and no data will be available. If the pattern seems right for the chip/style/type, then start typing in and googling the numbers. You may get lucky and find some kind of old datasheet somewhere out on the net, or floating in one of the chip datasheet archives out there (alldatasheet.com is a popular one).

Otherwise, the numbers on those parts (and beware - this is also an issue with surplus/overstock parts, like you might find) may be what are called "house numbers" - that is, they are part numbers that are internal for the manufacturer of the device they are incorporated; you won't be able to get any information about those, generally.

For other parts (transformers, motors, etc) - you might be out of luck; your best bet there is to take notes from the PCB and such (size of fuses and such) to get some information, note anything on the part that might indicate power needs (current and voltage), then maybe do some measurements on your own. You might end up doing a smoke test in the end - just one of the "hazards".

Lastly - rummage used book stores, garage sells, tag sells, boot sells, etc (and ebay and craigslist for that matter) for old IC databook catalogs from various manufacturers (motorola, intel, ST, etc); they'll generally be cheap (you'll also need a large bookcase).

It can actually be better to purchase surplus/overstock electronic parts, rather than try to scavenge stuff from consumer electronics; much of what is in consumer electronics nowadays is ASIC devices (application specific IC) - and they can't be repurposed. You will find some "generic" off-the-shelf ICs with proper markings and such still, but most of that stuff is going to be SMT components and such, and may or may not be worth the scavenging effort (there are ways to do it - one way I have heard of for large PCBs like PC motherboards is to place the board over a cardboard box and heat it with a heat gun or torch until the solder melts, then whack it with a hammer to dislodge the parts - wear proper safety gear, and do it outside, of course).

Finally - be aware of the value of items you intend to scavenge! Do some research on that old radio, that old computer, that old stereo receiver, etc - before you tear it apart. You might find that the value of the device whole is worth waaaay more than it is as parts. For instance, certain old 386 motherboards are becoming rare and worth a lot (!); also, 5.25 inch floppy drives are becoming rare and valuable as well. Did you know that certain "ghetto blasters"/"boom boxes" from the 1970s and 80s are now collector items?

With that said - keep trolling for old stuff - you never know what you might find (my "pride and joy" in my collection is an Altair 8800 I found at a local electronics salvage yard for $100.00 a few years ago)...
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pudn.com, baidu.com are your friends. and anything in chinese in general, thank god for the "openness" of the chinese electronics community. get clever with finding products in a similar family.
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Cumming, GA
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www.datasheetcatalog.com/
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I use google with search criteria : "part_number AND datasheet"
I get a lot of results like that
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I used to scavenge a lot in a similar manner.

I found for motors old printers were the way to go, but to be honest with the trouble of getting it all working... after the trauma of trawling for datasheets etc, I now find that ebay with the cheap Chinese parts is the way to go for me.

Most of the parts I took out were good for nothing more than the de-soldering practice.

Unless you have the time, it is often easier to buy parts to spec than to make do... although, I'm guilty of making stuff work "just because I  can" - and in fact am waiting for a moment to feel brave enough to start trying with an imager ic I took out of an old scanner (and *did* find a datasheet for).

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pudn.com, baidu.com are your friends. and anything in chinese in general, thank god for the "openness" of the chinese electronics community. get clever with finding products in a similar family.
Now there is something I never thought of.... thanks for that tip, Ill try it next time I get stuck.
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