How to Recycle an Old Dead Cable

Introduction: How to Recycle an Old Dead Cable

About: I'm from California. I like free stuff, and making apps, music, and music apps.

Step by step how-to to pick up some nifty supplies by recycling an old cable using only a utility knife and wire cutters.

My garage is an electronics graveyard at the moment, filled with outdated/redundant/incompatible DB connectors of varying pin numbers that will in all likelihood, never see a signal again.  All the DB-x connectors have pretty much been replaced by the ever popular 4 pin USB.  So if you have any Serial, Parallel, or whatever connectors lying about and your into electronics, this may be handy. (I found a 40 pin connector in my garage buried under the mountains of floppy discs containing tax records of previous years)

Dont let your serial and parallel connectors go to waste.  Just to put things into perspective, with 5 minutes of work and a dead cable, I got 200 ft of color coded hookup wire.  Online the prices that come up for this quantity of hookup wire is around $50.00.

Step 1: Dissassembly

First youve got to take apart the cable obviously. Using a pair of heavy duty wire clippers, cut off the two heads of the cable, like the male part or the female part. I guess this sub-step could be called the castration. Anyways, next you make a long incision down the length of the cable. Sometimes there is a layer of teflon looking paper under that, which can be cut and disposed of. Next you should see a braided metal shield. Slide the wires out from the braid.

Step 2: Recycle Ideas

The wire can obviously be recycled into hookup wire for electronics projects.  The nice part about this is that the wires come color coded and twisted for reduced noise and crosstalk.  Nifty eh.

The braided shield cable could be recycled as solder wick, which sucks up solder like a paper towel when you are desoldering.

Any other ideas out there? Comment them.

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    Something nice about a lot of cables you take apart like this is that they are usually single-core wire too. I don't know about D cables (have one I'll probably cut open soon), but a friend of mine pulled a 20 foot ethernet cable out of the garbage in his networking class that's sheathing was destroyed (looked like a vacuum cleaner massacre lol). The wire inside was indeed color coded, single core, and fit perfectly into a breadboard ;) Great way to recycle old wire. Nice instructable!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    A few minutes ago I threw away a 50 foot cable because the cover was damaged and expose al the braided shield and jumped and recovered it. Thank you for the idea. I will try it in about an hour. thank you for the great recycling ideas


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The old braid doesn't work well as solder wick, unfortunately, unless you can find a way to impregnate it with flux (and the liquid stuff just isn't adequate). It's good to use for earthing straps though.

    When I cut moulded connectors off cables I always leave a few inches of cable on the connector, so I can still use it for something, I just need to connect onto the wires.

    I've been using the insides of old cat5 cable for breadboarding. Found the stranded stuff used for patch cables works much better than the solid core stuff - the solid stuff moves and makes noisy connections. Stranded has more points of contact, but this stuff has only a few strands so it's still more stable than standard hookup wire. However the solid core stuff works really well for perforated board lashups.

    Old USB 1.1 cable contains excellent red and black wire for power as well 2 pieces of good fine signal wire. Old phone extensions also good.