Introduction: Fax Machine: Explaining Parts and What Is Worth Salvaging

About: My name is Lazar and I work with all kind of electronics from toasters to computers. Now I'm going to share my knowledge with you.

Recently I've found this fax machine. I cleaned it and connected it with power cable and phone line, and it was working correctly, but I don't need fax machine and I thought it would be nice to take it apart and make another instructable about it. It was easy and very interesting.

WARNING: The power supply is connected to mains, touching uninsulated parts can cause electric shock and death; it contains capacitor which can stay charged even after you disconnect it from mains; I'm not responsible for any damage you make.


I used a multimeter for testing and set of screwdrivers to open and disassemble it and a soldering iron and vacuum pump to desolder salvaged parts.

Step 1: Removing the Cartridge

To remove the cartridge you need to find some lever or button to open the fax machine. In my case it was on the right side of the machine. Then you carefully pull it out, it has step by step instructions with pictures on itself.

Step 2: Opening the Case

First thing I saw after removing one of the cover is the EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory). It can be erased by removing the sticker and illuminating the chip with UV light. Then it can be reprogrammed. It can be saved for some future EPROM programming project.

Then, after removing bigger cover, we can see SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supply) and controlling boards of the fax machine.

We now need to disassemble all of that.

Step 3: Removing Circuit Boards

It's quite simple, there are only some screws that you need to remove and some connectors too and that's it.

Here you can find EPROM, spark gaps (I'm not sure what are they used for, probably some high voltage spike protection), infrared sensors, transformers, relays, fuse, power transistor, ferrite cores, heat sinks and bunch of other useful things.

Infrared sensors: there is one infrared LED and photo transistor. When the IR LED illuminates the photo transistor it starts conducting electricity. And it stays that way until the IR beam from LED is interrupted by some opaque object.

Step 4: Telephone Base

The headphone is easy to remove, just like the internet cable from computer or router, or phone jack...

There was one screw that holds it in place, and another screw that holds two plastic parts together. Inside there is one speaker and board with switch soldered on it.

You can reuse speaker, switch and headphone in some future project. That's what I'm going to do.

Step 5: Stepper Motors

There are two stepper motors in the fax machine, one is 75Ω, 7.5°, other is 90Ω 7.5°.

Stepper motors are very useful and definitely worth salvaging. They are attached to metal piece with gears and you can use it like that or disassemble them from that metal piece.

You just need to attach them to the stepper motor controller and they are ready to use, and the only limit is your imagination.

Step 6: Scanner, LED Stripe and Some Weird Thing

Here I found green LED stripe, some mirrors, lens, sensor and something I don't really know what it is. I took a picture of it, it is some kind of electric transparent thing, it has connector on it, maybe another sensor. With a microscope you can see tiny little golden wires for connections and it looks like a ruler to me. If you know what this thing is let me know in the comments.

Step 7: Pictures Taken With Microscope

There is а little window on the housing of the EPROM chip, above the actual chip. I took some pictures with my microscope. Also I took some photos of that thing I don't know what it is.

You can see golden contacts, tiny little wire bonds and a die, in the context of integrated circuits. I found this very interesting.

Step 8: A Display and a Keyboard

They are mounted on the front panel of the fax machine and I think that LCD display is not useful but I might be wrong. But, I know that there is some plastic layer glued on top of the display, that's a polarizer. It's very interesting to play with, and can be used to do some experiments about quantum physics.

The keyboard can be useful, of course, but you need to fit it into your project.

Step 9: Other Useful Things

There are some rollers that are very interesting to me, they have mechanism in them like rear bicycle wheel that stops them from rolling backwards, but doesn't make any noise and has absolutely precise stops, where it stops it stops and it's not going back to lock.

Also, connectors are always useful, I recently took one and used it to connect a stepper motor to a driving board, with a little bit of corrections to the connector.

And last but not least, the screws! Always save them. I have many times used saved screws to screw something and spare myself walking to buy it. Very useful.

That's it, no more parts. I hope you like it and you learnt something new today.
Feel free to leave a comment, ask any question and don't forget to share and follow. You can support me on Patreon, it would be nice.