Scrounging Electronic Components

Old PCBs (printed circuit boards) used to be a great source for electronic parts.

Especially if you need a power transistor, MOSFET, voltage regulator, big capacitor, or reed relay which is not available locally. It just does not pay to mail order small numbers of parts, so having a grab bag assortment at home is handy.

But I have noticed that the some higher-quality PCBs just loaded with cool parts can be hard to scrounge from:

1. They are double-sided, or even multi-layered, with copper plating right through the holes (vias) so it is like pulling teeth, only harder.

2. They use no-lead (RoHS) solder which needs high temperatures to melt

3. They use surface-mount components and good luck removing and using those.

I use 15 watt, 40 watt, soldering irons, solder sucker, solder braid, flux, and a soldering gun. And for some items, a small windproof butane "jet engine" lighter as a mini torch to remove multi-pin items. Just heat-sink the legs and bang the hot PCB down to remove lots of solder at once. Of course I use gloves, safety goggles, ventilation, and proper recycling.

But the main issue is that it is getting harder to scrounge parts to build up a pile of useful stuff. 

What resources do you use?

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Arano5 years ago
some time ago i had to work with the surfacemount components and i think the parts with only 2 points where they ar soldered are very easy to get them off the board again, but i had soldering iron that was like a hybrid off a soldering iron and a pair of tweezers...
iectyx3c (author)  Arano5 years ago
That hybrid iron and tweezers sounds cool. With my eyes being farsighted I would also need a stereo microscope. I understand this is what the people who rework and repair surface mount boards use.
Arano iectyx3c5 years ago
i just found a picture of one (the one i used had points of a different shape but that doesn't matter much i think) the price of that soldering iron in the picture is about 11€.
iectyx3c (author)  Arano5 years ago
Thanks, your photo gives me an idea.

Our local dollar stores sell 15 watt soldering irons for $1 USD, Maybe I could attach two of them to a spring-handled kitchen tongs (also $1 USD) and make my own Surface Mount iron.

I'd bend the end of the tongs, attach the irons with cable ties or hose clamps.

I could splice the wires so there would be just one plug.

I just now opened a $5 USD radio control truck to mod it, and nearly every capacitor, transistor, diode and resistor was surface mount. Only the radio coil and some power transistors for the motor control were through-hole.
Arano iectyx3c5 years ago
Heh funny, at first I wanted to write something like 'maybe you want to build that tool' in my last post.