Scrounge List

Thought I would start a scrounging thread… It is something I have been doing more and more of lately (scrounging, not starting threads). Seeing how money is not stretching as far. I have a stack of bins which is getting more and more complete. Meaning… anything that I read about on this forum, or elsewhere, I can find most things in my stash.

Not really sure where to post this, I decided here would be safest. I think it would be cool if there were a place either on the forums or on the playground that is a listing of various gizmos and the stuff that is inside them. I know that several sites have a how to scrounge, or introduce the concept, but no real collective for folks to find that mystery piece that they really feel no need pay full price when they could pull it from something sitting within reach.

I bring this up a little proud or this weekends events. I needed some steppers, So, I went to a garage sale. i was on the hunt for scanners and printers. Dust and a couple of cobwebs are your friends. You know the item is not their beloved printer. I asked about a couple old HP inkjets marked 5 & 7 dollars. He did not know much about them. I noticed that one did not have cables or plugs, so I asked and got both for 5$.
Then elsewhere, I also picked up 2 elbow lights (the kind that you can move into place like the magnification glass) and a crepe maker which I hope i will be able to use for a reflow plate (smaller than a full blown electric skillet)

So, I got home and pulled the printers apart. In the older printer there were 2 very nice steppers, plus a whole mess of killer hardware. Springs, rubber grippy rollers (robot wheels), gears, gears and more gears. Electronics… several slot detectors and photo sensing shtuff.
In the other printer had 4 very nice motors, one with an optical wheel on one side and a gear on the other. So the point… for 5 bucks, I went home with my steppers. Scrounging is not hard, it is actually fun. In a time when we are trying to keep stuff out of land fills, this is a great way to reclaim that which would ultimately get tossed.

I think that enough of you have pulled something apart and were surprised what you found. Post it. If we can get enough stuff listed together, then perhaps it would prove a good item for the wiki. We will all increase the size of our kits, and world peace will prevail. Well perhaps not, but, I mean how else are we supposed to pull off a MacGyver and find the flux capacitor in a blender, all the while, amazing all your friends and loved ones. :sunglasses:

This is a great way to acquire parts like motors, LEDs and switches. Plus, you get to examine the inner workings of consumer electronics, which can be a good way to understand how they work. I’ve had success with the local FreeCycle group, too. FreeCycle is a global recycling network, with local groups (e-mail mailing lists) all over the world:

I have some photos of parts that I’ve taken out of printers, fax machines and scanners, here:

Fax machines are great, nobody wants them and they have a range of audio, digital and mechanical parts–often including LCDs.


Hey Anachrocomputer,
Nice work. I had not thought about doing it in pictures. You are far ahead of me. Thanks. I usually keep the camera handy. Did you use a softbox for these pix?
Yeah, I did not think ahead here. Make and model number would be helpful. Seems obvious. I was so focused on the nice little pieces I was pulling.

When you scrounge stepper motors or DC motors from printers and fax machines, don’t forget to check if the printer has a built in power supply. Some older printers has a built in powersupply that can easily be taken out as a “enclosed unit”, this powersupply is usuallygood for powering the steppers.

Glad you liked the photos! I didn’t use a softbox, but I did take care with lighting. I often use a simple white reflector (piece of paper or some polystyrene packaging) to lighten the shadows.

Good advice, too, about keeping modules like power supplies. I’ve also found DC-DC convertors asociated with the CCFL lamps in scanners, which are worth keeping along with the lamp, as a module.

Another good scrounging item is computer mice.

They have 2 or 3 microswitches, and two encoder wheels with photo interupters.

I built an arcade machine years ago using the optical encoder from a mouse as a spinner (for games like Tempest). Now they have folks who have developed some nice repros which work much nicer.

As to the dc-dc converters ccfl, any idea how many volts they put out? I see a couple of inductors, but have not done any good measurements yet. It seems to freak my meter out.

Be careful of this behavior, the disease progresses. I’m now addicted to a local scrap yard. Sure, it’s mostly dangerously sharp metal, puddles of oily fluids, and scary looking guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, operating cranes swinging tons of magnetically held crap over your head, but treasures are to be found.

Last week’s find: Some local company had given up on a prototype machine which packaged and dispensed small quanties of a wide variety of pills. So they wrote off the loss ($0.25M) and had it hauled away to the scarp yard. By the time I got there two guys had already laid claim to the linear slides (10 feet long), huge servo motors, drivers, and controllers. They had no interest in much of anything else, though, so I helped myself to some nice pneumatic cylinders, a few proximity sensors, some very nice knobs, and a curious little red widget that looked interesting only because it had a DB9 cable coming out of it. I took away about 20lbs of junk, and the scrap yard owner charged me all of $20.

It turns out the curious little red widget was a “Microscan Quadrus Mini”, a 3 megapixel autofocus realtime linear/2D barcode scanner. Google shows prices for it around $2500, eBay has similar “Buy It Now!”'s for 1/10th of that, and I imagine I could realistically auction it off for 1/10th of that, thus recouping the cost of my trip to the junk yard.

But then the addiction sets in. “Hey” (I say to myself) “I could mount the thing in the kitchen and scan empty food containers on their way to the trash can, thus automatically building up next weeks shopping list. And with this little jewel, I can scan those containers at a rate of 10 per second!” And so instead of turning the thing into hard cold cash via eBay, it goes into the drawer.

Next to the six CueCats.


“I could mount the thing in the kitchen and scan empty food containers on their way to the trash can, thus automatically building up next weeks shopping list.”
That is the most stupidly brilliant idea of the year. I freakin love it. ;D

I can scan those containers at a rate of 10 per second!

Sounds like it’s time to cut back on the beans just a little. :o

Doood! Freecycle is the BOMB! I have gotten rid of things I was not sure what to do with and received things I would never have thought people would just get rid of. For example I posted a want ad for old broken laptops (so I could make digital pic frames) and I received enough to make FOUR frames plus some extra parts (three of them were fully functional). By the same token, I was able to offload five old, unmatched 19" equipment racks (that we replaced in my server room with nice new ones) in about 3 days. The folks who picked them up were stoked and they came to me to get them. :sunglasses:

Definitely check out Freecycle. Lurk for a while and post a few things you want to get rid of and then start answering posts. You will score big and need a larger garage.

I would certainly use a scrounge list. I recently tore apart one of those all-in-one printers (scanner, fax, etc) and it had a bunch of sensors, 4 DC motors with optical readers, the scanner head. I even kept some of the case materials that were flat sheets, not to mention the scanner bed glass, gears, drive belts, steel rods - the list goes on and on!

Just be sure to recycle the materials you don’t use! (I think there’s an echo in here) :wink:

As to the dc-dc converters ccfl, any idea how many volts they put out?

They put out a few hundred volts at a high frequency, AC. The high voltage is coupled to the CCFL via capacitors, to ensure there’s no DC present. A multimeter will not give accurate results, because of both the high frequency and the capacitive coupling.

I could mount the thing in the kitchen and scan empty food containers

I remember seeing a project to do exactly that, a few years ago. I seem to recall it was done by a guy in Austria. Anybody remember it?