Introduction: Turn $3-$4 Into Around $100, Help the Environment, Learn Something, and Do So in Under 5 Minutes!!
Okay, so the title may be a bit misleading, but in a sense it is true. All you need to accomplish the parlay of $3 into $100 is:
1) Thrift shop
2) Screw driver
3) Internet access
4) Desire and/or will
6) Soldering Iron
8) something more "Pro" than scissors and soldering to pull parts off a board
I go to Goodwill almost every day because I'm mildly unemployed, bored, restless, and I live around the corner from one. Well, it's a few corners and 90% of the time I walk and take pictures with my Nikon F5 so I look important and not unemployed, bored, and restless. I've pretty much taken every shot of the walk in every angle possible, BTW. Down at ye ole' Goodwill, each day the busy blue bees put out new and mildly exciting things. This happens daily and there is a methodology by which they accomplish the task. Don't ask. Sometimes, however, they put out something really awesome and when they do, well that's worth a fortune in lucky bucks. You may even get an anecdote out of it, or maybe some envy by your peers or even other GW shoppers. However, I am not here to pontificate on the awesomeness of a thrift store for we all know their value. In this Instructable, I am going to show you how to turn $3 into $100 or more in savings. Huh? Wha? "Booooo! Savings! I want real cash. Your title makes you a liar, liar" Well, now now my friend, don't boo who just yet. A dollar not spent is as good as a dollar earned and you get to do something for the environment too, in a sort of way that you may have never considered. By buying an alarm clock, you open up space for other donated alarm clocks that might get thrown away should the shelves get too full of stagnant non-selling alarm clocks. Also, think of all the costs and waste involved for you to get a 7 segment display mailed to your home. It isn't the $2.95 plus shipping that you pay which are "costs", but all the extras involved that your order creates. Paper, boxes, fuel to deliver, electricity, padding and so on are all created as waste once you order something and have it delivered. Or what if you source parts from a couple of dealers? Wow, that 555 or Arduino you ordered just melted an iceberg and now a baby Seal may not realize his mom is blond 6 ft. goddess; even with that accent, dumb tv show, and 8 other baby Seals. Anyway, here is the breakdown on two different Alarm Clock radios I bought at Goodwill for under $4 each and what I got in savings and education for those two purchases. I also went to www.Jameco.com to price out these parts figuring they were about the middle when compared to Newark, Ardafurit etc., on the lower cost end and Radio Shat on high end. These are fairly rough estimates, but pretty good as well. Since I walked, the amount of waste created is fairly low compared to ordering one of Amazon.
Radio #1 Panasonic Alarm clock with Bells
1) 7 Segment Green LED Display $2.95
2) Transformer $10.95
3) Speaker w wires $1.95 w no wire attached
4) 10 tactile buttons $0.35 a piece or x10 3.50
5) 4 switches, some with more than 2 settings $0.75 each or $3.00 for 4
6) a potentiometer $1.55
7) 1 IC for an alarm clock which drives the 7 segment displays. No 555 timer or other nonsense. One chip. N/A @Jameco, but seen on Ebay for $24.95 and online for $10.95 but you cannot order just one. Split the difference? Say $17.00?
8) a motor(this alarm clock had bells for an alarm. the motor spun around and the attachment on the motor hit the bells) $2.50
9) trimmer capacitors $1.05 x5= $5.25
10) AM/FM radio since this one is wired and ready call it $24.95
11) 9 Volt connector $0.39
12) 11 Transistors(+or-1 or 2 bc I lose count) $0.05 x 11 = $0.55
13) Over a dozen Capacitors of various values and types. $2.00 assuming individual order. $4.99 at RS a an assortment
14) Dozens of resistors. On individual order $2.00
15) Over a Dozen Diodes $2.00
16) a 4040 chip. $0.60
16) lastly and lazily, a schematic on how to build an alarm clock. ahhh free.
17) learning how the thing works by adding a multimeter? semi-priceless.
Total educated estimate on parts alone= $81.09 add shipping which for me would be, with the "cheapest option" $10.21= $92.10
And that's at a lower price website. At Radio Shat? Good lord, we're looking at walking with $200 in parts and a new cel phone plan.
So on this $3.95 purchase, I can grab $80ish bucks in parts, get items that are difficult to collect, and learn how to wire an alarm clock. Whoopity doo! But! I can make a Sunrise clock with very few parts and add a radio. Or re-purpose the whole thing!
Not quite a $100, but close. But wait!! They don't just have one alarm clock there. Nope. Dozens. Scores even. Look at what else I found for just a dollar less.
A GE VFD 7 segment display with Green tint screen and radio:
1) Vintage Futaba 5-LT display. No longer made, but can be found on Ebay for around $25.00
2) all the same parts as above more or less. 81.09.
With this purchase I totaled $106.09 in parts. Not including shipping of course. No need to bother because I'm RICH!!!
I also have purchased a couple of old calculators for their innards and have some great VFD displays and easy layouts to snatch parts.
The point of this Instructable was not about money per se, and I must say the totals are inexact, but about re-purposing and thinking outside the box. No pun intended. Next time you're out thrifting or garage sale-ing, don't look at the products exteriors alone and what they were designed to do. Think of how it was made and what YOU can do with it. You can have a nice supply of parts very quickly with a $1 clock radio, 50 Cent calculator(yeah I'm from hood, I just calculated a butt whoopin' on yo a$$. now gimme a vitamin water, oprah.), or even a neat toy snatched from some sad little handless child's handless hands.
Have fun and be safe. Those transformers are a blast, try the yellow wire. gnaw.