Harvesting Electronic Parts

Introduction: Harvesting Electronic Parts

Have you ever needed a part, but didn't have the money to buy it? After coming across this problem a million times, I discovered this cheap quick solution. Many people have electronics lying around that they don't use anymore, why not go green and recycle the parts in these?

You will need these tools:
-Soldering Iron
-Assorted screwdrivers (including the Mini ones)

Step 1: Scavenging

First, you need to go around your house, and find objects that require electrical energy, that you don't use anymore. There are more of these things lying around than most people think.

Here are some examples:
-Sewing Machines

Then, take them apart. you might need to break the outside of these, but try not to damage any of the electrical parts inside.

Step 2: Setting Up

Now that you have all your electrical parts that you would like harvest, you need to set up your work station. its very simple, this is what you need:
-Plenty of light
-A comfortable seat and table/desk
-Ventilation (Like a window)
-Container for the little pieces.
-Soldering Iron

I used a Muffin tin to Keep the little parts in place. it works great.

Step 3: Harvesting

Now your ready to begin. take your soldering iron, and press it into the solder holding down the desired part. Wait until the solder melts, then pull the part out with your other hand. Its that simple. You can use this to get resistors, LEDs, Capacitors, and pretty much anything held on with solder, even the breadboard.

*** Do not keep the Iron on the solder for a long time, because you can damage the part, the board, or your fingers.***

Now your probably thinking, wow this guy sucks, a 5 year old could have thought of that. well as you think this, look around you. chances are there is at least one thing within sight that you don't use anymore. Go ahead, its calling your name. Recycle. This is one of the many ways to do it that people overlook.



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    19 Discussions

    I always do this but up until today I did not think of remotes. Thanks SO much.

    Any advice on removing the white goo that seems to be connecting almost every large component in a PC power supply I dismantled recently?


     If I had a nickel for every time pulled a broken dvd player out of the dumpster...

    1 reply

    I take apart old computer Monitors remove the tube a everything then put the case back together as a empty shell they make nice scrap holders. Then I take off all the copper there is loads of wire in those, same thing for CRT TV's or ones with tubes. You have to be careful of certain components though I've not ever been shocked while taking one apart and they don't explode. People always told me that when I was a kid I haven't seen one explode yet I've taken them apart for over 22 years.

    There is a little know secret to discharging the elements though, Rain water.

    I am condensing so many of my large electronics. I ripped apart an old scan/printer and took out a few stepper motors, the light, a wicked magnifying glass, the three mirrors, the plate of glass and a few other things. Plus I love taking the laser out of DVD burners. I have not used the laser yet, but I have plans. I really liked hearing how other people are doing these same things.

    Just for folks who want to take this to the next level, Radio Shack sells a "De-soldering" iron... It's just like a soldering iron except it has a suction bulb so that you can extract the solder real quickly... It makes it much easier recycle parts... Plus you don't tend to over heat the parts as much. Buy a few extra tips though... After about fifty or sixty parts removals, the tip will start to break down and won't work anymore eventually! Have fun!

    de-soldering iron.jpg

    You should include a couple of small projects you can do with the components you found

    Yep, it's a good way to get free components, researching old equipment can save a lot of money on... new projects.

    A way to do it more quickly...

    Use a small (old !) electric grill and  place your PCB, THT-components downwards, just under the heating spirals. Wait for the grill to get hot and... hit the PCB gently wit a screwdriver while it gets hot.

    It will take some time for the solder to melt, but once the first salvaged part drops, most other parts follow soon.

    With SMD-components one has got to place the PCB with the components upwards. Try to move an insignificant component while the PCB heats up.
    You probably have to wait a little longer once you can, but then it's pretty easy to harvest most components with a knive or piece of metal.

    Some SMD components are glued to the PCB, they'll still stick when all solder is melted. Just hit it with  a little more speed and force to get those loose. You won't break pins since the solder is already liquid.

    Last but not least, One should not forget health issues when gathering recycled parts this way. Good ventilation is a definite must, it's best to do this outdoors. One should also not use an oven/grill that is still used for the preparation of food.

    The technique takes some getting used to and some components... may get damaged, but most turn out fine. A second hand grill shouldn't have to cost much more as $10-15. 

     you don't have to be all green/hippie/tree hugger to do this. I'm a high school student without the money to buy the parts i need to build the stuff i wanna build. actually none of my shells went into a landfill. i burnt them all in a bonfire.  so either i missed what your trying to say, or i'm just confused. 

    recycling really isn't that high on my list....I want free parts and I don't want to have to pay somebody.
    I mean really......are you really saving the landfill from over flowing??
    All of the crust that you are left with  (for example: all of the plastic enclosures, ect....what are you going to do with that??
    ....I have an IDEA....send it to a liberal bonehead and let them recycle it.

    ya, and you would be surprised at the things radio shack and other electronic stores throw out.

    Especially the radioatcive substance in smoke alarms. Oops now im on the terrorist watch list...

    1 reply

    I have a friend who works for a Satellite TV service as an On Site Tech. I was telling him one day about getting parts for electronics like this and he told me to hold on a moment. A minute later he comes back with two LARGE boxes of old remotes from their set top boxes. Turns out he was just throwing them in the back of his truck rather than throw them away like the company dictated. Nice score as each remote had two IR LEDs in them, and two small Capacitors. So check with your local cable repair guy and see if they have anything left over from installs or service calls.