Salvage Parts and Sources

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Another page in early construction by russ_hensel, this attribution will be removed when I am "finished" with the page.

Parts -- Where to Find Them

What Comments Where



  • Mother boards
  • Microwave ovens

Caps: Electrolytic

You can get tons of these from most devices, usually marked with voltage and capacitance, they are pretty much ready to use.

  • Many different devices.


Can be very useful, may want to replace or overlay the front panel. Sometimes use a different side of the case as a new front.


Are the frequencies useful, can you figure out how to drive them?

  • Computer devices
  • Radio receivers
  • Diodes: Full Wave Bridges
  • Diodes: Power


Many different devices.

Diodes: Small Signal

Usually have leads that are so short that they are not worth bothering with

  • --

Headers and Jumpers

Useful as headers or to adapt parts to prototyping boards. You can also often find cables with plugs that plug into the headers very nicely. Also true of RC hobby servos.

Computer mother boards.

Fans: Small


  • where

Heat Sinks


  • where

Infra Red Receiver Useful for IR remote control projects. Any equipment with with a remote control


  • where

Jacks: RCA Phono


Audio equipment and many computer mother boards.

Jacks: Miniature Phono Jacks


Audio equipment. Sometimes on computer mother boards

Jacks: USB


  • Computer mother boards

Jacks: 9 Pin ( serial )

Often useful particularly if you harvest cables from old mice.

  • Computer Mother boards

|-valign="top" | Jacks: Key Board Jacks | Yes |

  • Computer Mother boards

|} |-valign="top" | Jacks: Key Board Jacks | May be useful particularly if you harvest cables from old keyboards. |

  • Computer mother boards

|-valign="top" | Laser | xxxxxxxxxxxxx |

  • Printers, cd rom, dvd players

|-valign="top" | LED: visible | Very, sometimes leads too short, but usually ok. |

  • Many devices, often on a control panel separate from the main circuit board

|-valign="top" | LED: Infra Red | Usefully for IR remote control projects. |

  • Remote controls.

|-valign="top" | LCD Displays

| Useless, too hard to find out the specs. |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Low Voltage Power Supplies | Yes |

  • Computers. Wall warts that may come with devices. Some other devices have power supplies as separate components.

|-valign="top" | Motors: DC Yes VCRs, Tape Recorders

| Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Motors: Stepper

Printers, some old floppy and hard drives. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Motors: Brushless Not very, these are hard to drive and often built into the circuit boards. May be most useful for the magnets in them. CD and VCR drives and players | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Magnets, often quit strong and/or of odd configuration. Useful Hard drives, brushless motors. Microwave oven magnetron. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Potentiometers: trim Quite Audio equipment.

| Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Relays Useful Microwave ovens. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Resistors: Power Useful Many different devices but usually not computers. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Resistors; ¼, ½ Watt Useless, leads too short | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Ribbon Cables and Sockets Computer | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Stepper Driver Chips | Very if you can find some of the standard chips, I have found ..... |

  • Printers and Devices with stepper motors.

|-valign="top" | Three terminal regulators | Yes |

  • Many different devices

|-valign="top" | Transistors: Power | Often useful, often can find specification from part number. |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Sockets: DIP | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Surface mount devices Useless, too hard to remove, too small to work with. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Transistor: Small Signal | Some use, but may be hard to identify which are useful. |

  • Many different devices but usually not computers.

|-valign="top" | Transformers – Misc. Maybe TVs Audio Receivers. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Transformer Flyback transformer Yes for high voltage – but can be dangerous. TVs | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | Transformer: Line to Low voltage Useful for making power supplies. Audio equipment particularly receivers. | Yes |

  • where

|-valign="top" | what | Yes |

  • where


Computers and computer mother boards

useful Almost all, although surface mount is driving them out.

-- Switch, PB pc board mount Very Many devices, often on a control panel separate from the main circuit board.

Meters Yes Some old audio equipment

Power supplies, any component with a power supply.


Hall Effect Devices


Sources -- What Can You Get Out Of Them

Computers Power supply is useful as a unit, or can be taken apart for transformer, caps, diodes, and similar. There are usually some LED and switches on the end of wires that plug into header blocks. They also may have CD DVD Floppy Drives see separate discussion. The connecting wires are often useful, sometimes taking the connectors off the mother board makes them more useful. Individual boards may be useful as they are. The mother board is not usually useful for its chips, most are too small and specialized for much use. Crystals may be found, not sure if frequencies are useful

Floppy Drives Often have stepper motor and Brush less motors. The old 5 ¼ drives are most likely to have reasonable power steppers. most of the chips then to be too small and specialized for much use.

Microwave Ovens Make sure you discharge high voltage capacitor prior to salvage, if you do not know how to do this find out firs. High voltage transformer ( dangerous ), high voltage capacitor and diode. Good magnets in the magnetron tube. Lots of micro switches. Small motor, motorized fan.

Printers Often have stepper motors. Plugs, jacks, power transistors, diodes. Gears, shafts and other mechanical components. Control panels may have led's and push button switches.

Stereos, boom boxes, radios Plugs, jacks, power transistors, diodes.

TV May not be a good salvage candidate: There are high voltage dangers and dangers from imploding picture tubes. Also when you are done there is often a disposal fee as the picture tube contains a few pounds of lead. Do not dispose of irresponsibly.

VCR DC motors, plugs, jacks, power transistors, diodes.

Salvage Techniques

Use a propane torch to salvage components from printed circuit boards ( from russ_hensel ).

First, this technique can be dangerous, in addition to possible burning yourself or burning your house down the components can emit dangerous fumes including fumes from the lead solder. Make sure you are operating carefully in a very well ventilated ( perhaps outdoor ) area. If you are not an adult have an adult approve of your procedure.

I use a propane touch with about a liter container of propane often used for plumbing work. I take the board and clamp it vertically in a vise. The torch is adjusted for about a 1 inch flame. Play the flame over the component leads while pulling on the component with a pair of pliers ( have several sizes available ). Work the component out and drop in a box. Move on to the next components. Some components can be pulled out with your fingers if you do not mind occasional burns, some can be pull out with your fingers but will burn you almost every time. If a component has heavy duty leads and light duty leads ( as some transistors that are connected to heat sinks do ) heat the heavy duty leads first. If the components has much plastic near the board ( for example ) headers, you may destroy the part. Practice will improve your technique. Keep your head out of the fumes. Try not to set the board on fire too often. When you do make sure you put it out. Do not leave the site of the work until the boards are cool. Even surface mount components can be removed, apply heat from the side away from the component, this will often ignite the board. This technique is at least an order of magnitude faster than using a soldering iron. Some people replace the torch with a paint removing heat gun, I have tried this but like the torch better.

Do the parts work after heating this way: for me almost always.