How to Take Apart a Microwave

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Intro: How to Take Apart a Microwave

Taking apart microwaves can be dangerous, on this instructable I will show you how to take apart a microwave safely and explain the parts and what you can do with them...

I found this microwave (pictured) lying around in the streets, I took it home with me and took it apart, meanwhile, I decided to make an instructable so you can get an idea of how to take apart a microwave and what its parts can be used for.

Step 1: What Equipment You Will Need...

You will need tools to take apart a microwave, your bare hands won't work. :-)

  • A set of screw drivers with different shapes and sizes.
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Alligator clip
  • Hammer (you don't need this unless something needs to be banged apart)

You might need other types of tools depending on the type of microwave you are going to take apart.

Step 2: Warning!

Yeah, thats right, taking apart microwave can be very dangerous if you do it improperly...

There is an high voltage capacitor in there that can be still charge and can give out an lethal shock.

Step 3: Begin Taking Off the Cover

Start taking the top cover off carefully and try avoid touching the wiring!

Step 4: Discharge the Capacitor

Locate the capacitor, it should be near the big fat chunk of metal, the high voltage transformer. Then get your alligator clips and very carefully touch both terminals of the capacitor...

You may get an loud "SNAP" (which is unlikely) and that indicate the capacitor is discharged, do this a few more time to really make sure the capacitor is discharged..

And you're done! The microwave is safe to gut out!

Step 5: Gut Out the Microwave

Well, what are you waiting for? Gut the microwave part you want!

Step 6: What to Do With All of This Stuff?

After you had gutted the microwave, you can find a lot of pretty good stuff, read on through the instructable to fine out what they are and what you could do with them!

Step 7: The Magnetron

This device, the magnetron, is what heats up our foods...

There is hardly any use for this device, but the magnetron have two very large and powerful ceramic magnets! You can hack the magnetron open and extract the magnets and use them for your other projects.

Step 8: The High Voltage Transformer

Now this one, is the most dangerous microwave component of all... The high voltage transformer...

The transformer give out 2Kv (2000) AC with outputs of 500mA to 2 amps, far more than enough to instantly kill a person...

The transformer can be put to good use for many high power projects, but most often, people would mod them, and use them to draw arcs for fun... But that is going to be another instructable...

Here is an video of me drawing arcs and lighting sparklers with the microwave transformers.



For some very odd reason, after the sparkler is burnt out, the arcs are much longer, I don't know why it is doing it... Can any body give me an explanation?

Step 9: Capacitor and Diode

You can use those for some of your high power projects like tesla coils, can crusher, ect.

Step 10: Line Filter

Those things can be useful if you know what you are doing with them...

Step 11: Cooling Fan

You can use the fan to cool your self down on a hot day...

I used it as a ventilation fan for my workshop to get rid of all or the solder fumes and other smokes...

Step 12: Turntable Motor

Those motors spin very slowly, you can add an plate on it rotors and display your things on the table.

Step 13: Power Relay and Light Bulb

You can use the relay for heavy load switching and if the light bulb still works, you can save it as an replacement bulb for other microwaves.

Step 14: Bell and Timers

You could use them as a timer for something?

Step 15: Thermal Fuses

Sometimes, you can find an thermal fuse(s) in a microwave - often found near the magnetron. They are used to break the circuit from the mains if the magnetron overheats...

Step 16: Safety Switches

The safety switches can be found near the door. You can use it for safety on your other projects or possibly build a beam robot with it...

Step 17: Heating Tubes

Very strangely, my microwave has two quartz halogen heater tubes.

If you have those tubes, you could use it to make your own heater, or you can salvage the tubes for the nichrome wire (heating element) and use it for some of your other experiments...

Step 18: The End

Well, I hope you find this instructable helpful!

If you have any questions, or need help, or found an error, or anything, make a comment!
I like comments! :-)

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    268 Discussions

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    dflounders

    4 years ago

    Daft gits! Discharging of large capacitors should be Dr be done with jump leads, screwdrivers, etc, that will cause a zero ohm resistive short circuit. Use something like a 2 watt - 2Kohm resistor across the cap terminals. You only need a few hundred milliamp shock to put your heart into cardiac arrest. Yes, caps usually discharge quick, assuming they are designed properly and the unit is not faulty, but neither case is guaranteed. Safety first or lose your tool.

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    SethJ13

    1 year ago

    is it a bad thing if your magnetron was the part that burned?

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    sverige

    1 year ago

    the magnetron has two beryllium insulators on the ends, they are the colored ceramic things on it. The dust from these WILL give you cancer. don't break them. also getting shocked from a microwave capacitor is the most unpleasant thing that has ever happened to me. don't touch it.

    I did it, but I had an accident. I've accidentally got shocked by the capacitor. It was TERRIBLE! I didn't feel my whole hand for about an hour. I'm very lucky to be alive ?

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    NicoleS47

    2 years ago

    FYI there are a lot of very dangerous ideas in the instructions and comments.

    Capacitors can kill you. High voltage transformers can kill you. Magnetrons can hurt you really badly or maybe kill you.

    Always wear insulated gloves & use insulated tools designed for high-voltage use if you insist on disassembling a microwave.

    Always discharge the capacitor properly as dflounders said using a 2 watt - 2000 ohm resistor while wearing insulated gloves designed for high-voltage protection.

    Never power up the magnetron or disassemble it. Even if you try to build some shielding, unless you're an electrical engineer you're not going to have much chance of doing it right.

    The microwave uses a Faraday cage to contain the microwave radiation. You can't kludge one of these together safely.

    2 replies
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    BlakeJ11NicoleS47

    Reply 2 years ago

    I have officially decided to NOT AT ALL EVER take apart a microwave.

    I personally prefer not dying, as well as not being irradiated.

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    NicoleS47NicoleS47

    Reply 2 years ago

    oh yeah the reason not to disassemble the magnetron for the magnets is the barium oxide, which will kill you as mentioned by other comments. this is all very stupid.

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    yankleber

    2 years ago

    My overall advice is: NEVER play with stuff that you don't know how if works. Along my life I have heard about several awful accidents resulting in serious injury and death by curious people disassembling or misusing things such as microwave ovens, airbags, medical radioactive equipment, air compressors, laboratory disposed matter, guns, etc. Just leave such stuff alone!

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    libertyrulesyankleber

    Reply 2 years ago

    Good thing Tesla wasn't guided by your "Just leave such stuff alone!" advice.

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    In my opinion, it would be sheer stupidity to fire up an unshielded magnetron. Not only would it cause cancer, but if left on for a few seconds, and your body would look like a tv dinner that was just cooked. If you want to fire one up, use sheet metal(steel) as shielding, and be warned that electronics would be fryed and probably your hand to if you stuck it in the why of the microwave beam.

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    AaronT9

    3 years ago

    Be extremely careful when you want to take the magnetron apart for the diode and 2 ferro magnets, because the ceramic isolators on each end (cylindrical pieces about an inch wide) tend to be made up of Barium Oxide, which is very toxic.

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    LandauMartin

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Seriously chaps, DO NOT TAKE APART the magnetron UNLESS you know what you are doing! that pink stuff inside it is beryllium oxide. If you scratch and breath in that stuff it will give an incurable disease called "berylliosis"

    The HV cap discharging method is highly undesirable because it might give a very surprising spark and likely ruin or shorten the life of the cap, so a high wattage 1k or higher resistor is best for discharging it. ( the cap has a bleed resistor inside it, but i would still discharge it first)

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    McGee 2021

    3 years ago on Introduction

    The only thing I found in my microwave was an enormous wasp nest. :(

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    Marius de Jess

    3 years ago on Step 7

    Please read the quote as follows.

    [Quote begins]

    http://www.geappliances.com/search/fast/infobase/10001153.htm

    Microwave - Normal Operational Characteristics for a
    Microwave

    It is normal to experience any of the following with a
    microwave oven:

    [...]

    Dull thumping
    sound or hum while cooking at power levels other than high.

    When using a power
    level other than HIGH or 10 the magnetron tube cycles on and off to obtain the
    lower power. This cycling of the magnetron tube causes this dull thumping, pulsating,
    or humming noise. When combination cooking in microwave/convection models, the
    cycling of the convection element and fan will alternate continuously with the
    hum of the magnetron and the fan.

    [...]

    [Quote ends]

    What do you mean by power cycle, high and low, so that low
    power cycles can cause noise while high power cycles will not.

    What I know is that high power or low power cycles depend
    upon how long in time period the magnetron is working and how long in time
    period it stops working until the next period of work to be interrupted again
    by the period of non-work; and the joined period of work and of non-work is set
    by the human operator using the power knob or button.

    My problem is the following:

    Power is set at maximum – no interruption of work for magnetron: for the first 2 minutes
    more or less of magnetron operation it emits a jackhammer noise which stops at
    the end of the 2 minutes period, and the magnetron continues to operate
    'quietly' until it stops at the completion of the adjusted operation period or
    I turn it off.

    This microwave oven is not digital but mechanical in its
    control, it had been in service for over 7 years. It started blowing up the
    power fuse, and upon changing the power capacitor the normal function was
    restored and it works as before except for the noise which was not present
    before.

    Please suggest some solutions; I notice that it seems the
    magnetron now needs to get heated up before the noise will go away.

    Please ask your engineers to investigate the mechanics and physics
    of heat and noise and vibration in the operation of perhaps an overly aged
    magnetron.

    Thanks in advance for your reply by email.

    My email: mdejess@gmail.com

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    bobbyrae

    8 years ago on Step 2

    It is true that you could be killed or injured from the high voltage, but it is also true that if the oven is working correctly at the time, the capacitor will discharge in about a second after the magnetron shuts off and so there is no worry in that case. I firmly believe that if that ground wire (which should normally be connected to one side of the capacitor) is present AND the unit is plugged into the wall, this will also drain the capacitor pretty quickly. So a lot of these warnings are just CYA from the lawyers. It should also be noted that while the voltage in the magnetron can 2.5kV to 4KV, the voltage from the charged capacitor has nothing to do with that. It will just discharge.

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    Andy-Kbobbyrae

    Reply 3 years ago

    I know this is an old comment. But please anyone reading this do not take this advice. The capacitor contained in microwaves can store electricity for a long period of time after power has been removed. Even in a microwave that still works. Always always discharge caps that are found even if your pretty sure they are safe.