Wire and parts salvage

Figured I'd create a discussion on this. What is your go-to source for salvaging parts? Where do you get this salvage?

I'm not really asking for assistance with anything, just wanted to start a discussion and see what people's thoughts are.

EDIT - Accidentally posted in the wrong place. Fixed it.

Personally I think ATX power supplies and DVD drives are pretty great for parts.

ATX PSUs contain transformers and inductors which can be used for wire salvage (not to mention the thing's actual wires). There's plenty of capacitors, resistors, and voltage regulators depending on where you look.

DVD drives contain stepper motors, DC motors, potentiometers, LEDs, and powerful lasers. (Powerful enough to delete your eyeballs in nanoseconds. Be careful.)

What sort of parts are you looking for?

A good source of parts are old printers. There are motors, sensors and power supplies.

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I've sort of given up salvaging parts. I have decades worth of salvaged parts (from equipment, from surplus, free samples, show giveaways, stuff from dumpsters where work threw out brand new or slightly used parts, from ebay and surplus dealer sales that I thought were too good to pass up, etc...)

And now I have piles of largely obsolete parts that are unlikely to be used, require special tools and programmers that are nearly unavailable, have unpopular values, and can't be obtained if anyone wanted to duplicate my project, or if I wanted to build them in bulk. 27C512 EPROMS. 4bit microcontrollers. ATmega48 microcontrollers (cause that was "big memory" back then.) 8kbyte and 2kbyte static RAM chips. (shucks. 1kbit static RAM chips!) CPLDS, FPGAs, SIMS, and DIMMS in at least half-a-dozen obsolete styles. Stuff that was discontinued, from companies that don't exist any more.

Further, the brand-new equivalents are pretty readily available and pretty cheap. (or were, before the current global shortages.)

(huh. The most useful "old" parts have been "indicator" LEDs; the sort of thing you use for "power", TX, and RX indicators on an Arduino board. I've got a reel of 3mm RED LEDs (on sale!), and a drawer full of green 3mm LEDs (pulled from boards and removed from holders.) And they actually get used, when I'm building something that uses TH LEDs.)


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Yes, I can't resist salvaging and find it hard to throw things away - I look at something and think "what can I use that for?".

Years ago, there used to be shops and market stalls specialising in junk, especially WW2 reclaimed parts, and mysterious circuit boards.

Exchange and Mart full of 2-way radios.

I still look at PCBs from duff equipment and see if anything is worth recovering, but realistically, there never are, given the effort to get them off the board etc.

It's hard enough keeping track of new components and containers from TicTacs to pocket money envelopes come in handy, plus a large Excel spreadsheet to try and locate the stuff.

The only things I regularly strip for bits are old printers for motors and gears, but HHDs so far have never yielded a motor.

I always remember my first successful electrical experiment with an Ever Ready cell, some fuse wire and a bulb - hooked for ever.

I still rifle through skips and the other day found a 6-ft Stabilo level chucked out because it was slightly bent. Leaned it against the wall and applied some pressure. Job done, now have a £40 level to add to the collection.

I think salvaging and possibly hoarding goes back to times when things weren't so easily available, but I must agree with @westfw, there comes a time when you have to stop and a possible house move is going to force some hard decisions.

On the other hand, buy a bigger house and get more junk room.

Old printers don't seem like a bad idea.

I wonder if you could make a CNC machine out of one...

EDIT - Power supplies are great because all of the components are THT so you don't need a heat gun to take them off. Also, the transformers and inductors make great sources of free wire.

One of my first electrical projects was when I attempted to light a small bulb.

Nothing happened, so being like seven or something, I decided to put both wires in a lamp socket.

The power was out for like an hour. But the most disappointing part was that the bulb didn't even light.

I have an HDD from 2009 in my PC. If you want to bring back bad memories, the phrase "5400RPM 160GB laptop hard drive" should work pretty well.

I actually used some old printer parts to make a mini CNC engraver for wood using a Dremel. And some parts of another to make a CNC sand (Zen) plotter.

I have a lot of salvaged parts and every once in a while use some. But, I fear, most will not be ever used. I do hesitate to throw them away because I figure that as soon as I do I will have a use for them.

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I took apart a Snap Circuits IC (strobe IC) and found a pretty nice little variable frequency generator working from a few hertz to a couple of kilohertz.

You could embed the most obso bits in a clear plastic table top, maybe arranged to look like other thing(s). If people like it, you can make more and the pile gets smaller!

Maybe with just superglue and time make a robot statue?

Replace the drive, should be cheap, and open the old one up to get the voice coil super magnets (2) in likely-mu-metal cages. The disks are a plus, there is a motor too.

Some parts have lifetimes, certain caps ferinstance...

I tried opening some very old drives a while back.

Those screws were not meant to be loosened.

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Get a set of security tips with handle at Harbor Freight! Take the drive with you.
There's different patterns, I've had to get a small 5 bladed "cross-tip" before.

The intent of having those fasteners is only an incitement.
You're NEVER going to put the drive back together. This is Salvage.

You have 2 quarter-circle supermagnets arranged to move the very light read heads extremely fast and accurate at the same time. The same might mimic a muscle.

There are many HD salvage videos on youtube and Delphi used to have an Electronics Salvage Forum IIRC. Tons of how-to on those.

The last HDD I bought was a 500G for like $40 in 2017.

Cool. Looks like I'll have to take apart another one. The last ones got thrown away...

The field between the poles changes uniformly. With a Linear Hall sensor, angles could be read on say a non-ferrous caliper where one arm has the magnet mounted on it and the other arm holds the sensor that moves along the magnet as the caliper opens and closes.

The voice coil runs current through itself to make a certain strength magnetic field inside of the loops. The magnets will try and center the loops where the magnet field average matches the field in the loops, it pushes strongly -- the drive heads move track to track and settle in a fraction of a ms.