then go to the local thift store and get a 3$ VCRthe VCR will give you motors, piles of wire, buttons and random crap
Wow I really should have done that, I took apart a lot of disposable cameras from a wallgreens for a lot of my components but VCRs would be a goldmine. Perhaps DVD players as well (since VCRs are actually kinda hard to find nowadays).Another good one is to go to gamestores and get old videogame controllers if you need buttons/thumbsticks. Cheap radios can do the trick too.The real trouble with recycling parts out of old electronics though, is finding out what everything is.
You probably have more than a few Goodwill stores in your area (as well as other thrift stores); while not all Goodwills are "equal", it is worth your time to go on a Saturday (or, if you want to avoid the "rush", go on a weeknight) to -each- of the stores nearby your house (I make a round every Saturday or so of 3-5 near my house here in Phoenix, AZ), and see what they have for your electronics and prototyping experiments. Check out the toys, computers, and other assorted junk. I've found things like somewhat "incomplete" Erector and other toy building sets that have a great many number of parts for robotics and other such uses (great for prototyping and experimenting). Then there are the old toy RC cars, old Robosapiens, etc...You wouldn't believe what you can find. Not every store is the same; some you might find are "better stocked" than the others. There also may be certain days or times when "good stuff" is there that isn't grabbed immediately. Depending on the area of town, you may notice different "stuff". For instance, Goodwills in the retirement areas here tend to have "older" electronics - some of it in quite good condition; in some cases "collector" condition.If you do see stuff like that (ie - older electronics and toys; anything pre-1980 generally - though it can span some years - heck, have you seen prices for 386 motherboards?), you check out its quality, its vintage, don't immediately plug in an old device or whatnot - you may blow stuff; some of that stuff can be worth a -ton- of money if you know what you are looking for.You might also check into if you have a nearby (within 50 miles?) electronics junk recycler; we have a couple of good ones here in the valley (Apache Reclamation and Electronics, Equipment Exchange - and online only: Electronic Goldmine); maybe something like those can be found in your area.Also - keep an eye out on Freecycle (if it is available for your area) as well as Craigslist (same) - sometimes things fall thru the cracks there. Oh - yard sales too are good sources for things like this...
Plenty of goodwill stores around, haven't gotten enough into a project yet that I didn't have the stuff on hand already. Though I have gotten some Wii motion plus addons from there (BS that they don't sell them at stores anymore. Trying to get gyros out of a motion plus remote sucks).It'd be awesome if any of them around here would have Erector sets in them (I remember those from back in the day).
And even if theres no electronics recycler, a regular scrapyard (we have one) tends to gather electronics anyways (also lots of other stuff, I got a pair of 10ton hydraulic pistons a few months ago including the jack to control them with. Those were probably a few grand each new) For building projects like robots its pretty easy to find aluminum and steel frames (or extruded aluminum) at the scrapheap, and for heftier projects, theres a good share of electric motors that are "broken". Actually, its really not that hard to walk into a junkyard one morning and come out with several thousand dollars in prefectly good stuff, electrical or otherwise. Maybe I'll start logging all the stuff I can get my hands on.
Post it, see if anyone needs stuff. Id say to an extent, the fun I've had with my projects since learning of this has been worth paying the forums back in some way.Perhaps it might be good to add an exchange forum to the arduino site here. I know lots of airsoft forums have them... kind of a pay it forward system.