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
Beeper Cheap sound effects, some need ac drive others just dc.
  • 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. Leads usually just long enough to go through a board.
  • Many different devices.
Cases Enclousures

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.

Crystals Are the frequencies useful, can you figure out how to drive them?
  • Computer devices
  • Radio receivers
Diodes: Full Wave Bridges and Power Nice for your own power supply.
  • Many different devices.
  • Power Supplies

Diodes: Small Signal

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

  • wherever
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 Do not blow your budget, get a free fan.
  • Computers
  • Power Supplies
Ferrites Rewind for use as small SMPS transformer cores due low hysteris losses.
  • CRT monitors
  • Power Supplies
  • Cable "bulbs"
Hall Effect Sensors Can be used to sense magnetic fields or to measure current.
  • Lots of CD Spindle motors seem to have them mounted at the edge of the rotor ( more or less ).
Heat Sinks Keep your power components cool.
  • where
Infra Red Receiver Useful for IR remote control projects. Usually tuned to about 40 kHz and have digital output.


  • Any equipment with with a remote control
Jacks: RCA Phono Nice for audio and some video.
  • Audio equipment and many computer mother boards.
Jacks: Miniature Phono Jacks Use for audio or low power.
  • Audio equipment. Sometimes on computer mother boards
Jacks: USB Handy because there are so many usb devices out there, make an IPod charger.
  • Computer mother boards
Jacks: 9 Pin ( serial ) Often useful particularly if you harvest cables from old mice.
  • Computer Mother boards
Jacks: Key Board Jacks May be useful particularly if you harvest cables from old keyboards.
  • Computer mother boards
Laser Please be careful.
  • Printers, cd rom, dvd players
LED: visible Very, sometimes leads too short, but usually ok. Computers often have several with plug in leads which can be really handy. Mount 2 pins from a header ( also salvage ) to plug in.
  • Many devices, often on a control panel separate from the main circuit board
LED: Infra Red Usefully for IR remote control projects. Note that they can be used as recievers as well.
  • Remote controls.
LCD Displays Mostly useless, too hard to find out the specs. *wherever
Low Voltage Power Supplies Wall warts that may come with devices. Some other devices have power supplies as separate components. May want to supplement with a three terminal regulator, which you can also get from salvage.
  • Computers.
Motors: DC Nice if you need a motor and every robot needs many, see also steppers.
  • VCRs, Tape Recorders
Motors: Stepper Can be real useful for low power devices. Can be expensive to buy.
  • Printers, some old floppy and hard drives.

Motors: Brushless

These are hard to drive and often built into the circuit boards. May be most useful for the magnets in them. Sometimes you can find and use the hall effect sensor.
  • CD and VCR drives and players
Magnets More pictures on your frige, Hold down tools on cast iron in the shop. Often quit strong and/or of odd configuration.
  • Hard drives, brushless motors. Microwave oven magnetron.
Potentiometers: trim Can be useful, but new ones are not very expensive.
  • Audio equipment.
Relays Useful to go from logic levels to 120 vac. Coil is often 12v or 24 volts, use with a transistor low side switch ( for example ) to interface with logic levels
  • Microwave ovens.
Resistors: Power Useful Many different devices but usually not computers.
  • Power Supplies

Resistors; ¼, ½ Watt

Usually useless, leads too short
  • wherever
Ribbon Cables and Sockets I ( russ_hensel ) have found a bunch or applications that may not be obvious, I will write it up soon, or contact me.
  • Computers
Sockets: DIP russ_hensel ) I sometimes cut these up in various ways and epoxy to .1 inch perf. board to get special sockets for LED arrays....
  • Computers and many other components.
Stepper Driver Chips Very useful if you can find some of the standard chips, I have found .....
  • Printers and Devices with stepper motors.
Three terminal regulators Often standard parts, sometimes you can take the whole power supply as a unit
  • Many different devices
Transistors: Power Often useful, often can find specification from part number.
  • Audio equipment, TV's

Surface mount devices Useless for me, too hard to remove, too small to work with. Some of you may have figured SMT out, more power to you.


  • wherever

Transistor: Small Signal

Some use, but may be hard to identify which are useful as many use house part numbers. A few hours work gave me a couple of bucks worth of parts russ_hensel, probably not worth it.

Many different devices but usually not computers.

Transformers Inductors – Misc. Test with ohm meter and audio oscillator.
  • TVs Audio Receivers.
Transformer Flyback transformer Useful for high voltage – but can be dangerous.
  • TV's
Transformer: Line to Low voltage Useful for making power supplies.
  • Audio equipment particularly receivers.
  • Computer perifferals (sp ) but not computers.

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.