Recycle Old PCB Components




About: Passionated by life; traveling though landscapes on my skateboard , hovering over sea on a surfboard, taking deep breaths of fresh air in a hammock and losing myself in the sky.

This instructables will show you how to recycle, by desoldering, all your old PCB's (Printed Circuit Board) components. You can find PCB in almost every electronic devices (DVD, computer, camera , toys...).All you have to do is to disassemble them, and desolder the components you want. So here is how to do step by step!

*This Instructable has been feature on Hack-a-Day and in The Best of Instructables book !

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Step 1: Find Things to Disasemble

First you have to find electronics devices like DVD,VHS,Camera,Computer,Clock... that you don't use anymore or that you found in the garbage or that doesn't work anymore.Then remove all the screws and get out the PCB's.(Green plate with components solder to it)

Step 2: Materials

Here what you need to disolder the components from the PCBs

  • PCB s (Of course!)
  • Set of pliers (For different size of components)
  • Soldering iron
  • Vice grip or third hand
  • Case for the desoldered components
  • Desoldering pump (Optional)

Step 3: Hold PCB With the Vice Grip

Hold a PCB horizontally with your vice grip or your third hand. Solder side facing you. If you have a regular vice grip, put the solder side , on the side of the hand you use to hold you soldering iron.

If you don't have this kind of vice grip, you can use another type of vice , to hold your pcb up (Pic 2)

You can also use third hand or helping hand to hold your PCB

Step 4: Start Removing the Components

Get your soldering iron hot and start to remove the components you want with your soldering iron.Put your soldering iron tip on the solder of the component you want, and with the other hand hold the component itself or one of it lead with a plier and get them out when the solder is melted hot. try not to take your time when the iron touch the lead because the component can become very hot very fast and there are risks to blow them up. If the leads are long enough, you can try putting an alligator clip between the component and the joint, the clip will take much of the heat generated by the iron. Check the video for more info.(Video coming soon)

Sometime , you will get to bigger components with bigger lead, to help, you can help you by using a desoldering tool like the one on the picture, its very not expensive, and can help you a lot getting bigger components out. To use it, heat up the lead, then  when the solder is melting, put the pump close and hit the button to suck up the solder. Then when you will cock the mechanism back, the sucked solder will come out. Be careful because solder pump have a plastic tip so try to avoid contact with your soldering iron 

Step 5: Continue to Remove the Components

Continue to remove the components with the same technique,and you will get a lot of them!

Step 6: Recycled Components

Here are the components that I recycled within half an hour of desoldering...

  • Capacitors
  • Switches
  • Audio sockets
  • TV plugs
  • Resistors
  • LEDs
  • Transistors
  • Motor
  • Screws
  • ...

Step 7: Recycling!

Don't forget to recycle the parts that you can! Like the metal cases and the plastic panel.But you can also keep them for further project like to make some case.. Recycling is important! Don't forget it !

Step 8: What to Do With Your Recycled Components? How to Identify

Now that you'v desolder some components you have to do something with them, like build some robots or like nnygamer did, build some computer's bugs with few resistors and capacitors.You can also look at the robotgames contest, there are many things to build with your new recycled components. Like the Jerome's instructables, he builts a bug robot with only few parts, and its very simple to do .Here is the link of his instructables if you want to take a look:

Here are some other link of project or your parts:
Here a link to a website that contain a lot of informations on electronics components , and
it can help you identify your salvaged components: *

A good way to regognize your components, is to look at the symbols under the components, then you can refer to shematic symbols on the internet to know what you'v just took out. Look at pics 3 and 4.
We got a yellow copper'd wired thingy that we dont know, just look at its symbol, and you've just realized it was an inductor!

Hope this instructables help you and now go make something awsome!

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    163 Discussions


    Answer 1 year ago

    IF adjustable transformer..

    Shielded Intermediate Frequency tuneable radio signal stages..

    A metallic iron screw that you adjust with a non-metal screw driver that causes differing inductive coupling with the input coil to output coil and with added pico capacitors can change resonance frequency points.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for the quick answer


    3 years ago

    You should make an instructable on what you can do with each component. Like different projects each one can be used in.

    Hi, i need our help to search small switch SPDT. I check in printer, radio and computer. I saw big one in microwave but not with plate.

    Thank you



    4 years ago

    I have over 500 pounds of low grade circuit board that I can not seem to sell. But they contain valuable parts and scrap. I figure I have to break these down to make money. I know about tantalum capacitors and silver switches but what else do people buy that comes off the boards? Parts or scrap? Thanks


    Reply 4 years ago on Step 4

    Propane torch, heat quickly and pull part off board


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

    And this is when the solder pump gets *really* useful :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Has anyone ever soldered legs onto recycled componnents for use with breadboards? If so, what can I use as leg xtensions?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    To desolder PCBs, I would highly recommend using some hot air rework tools,
    instead of a soldering iron. A hot air gun or station makes no contact
    with the PCBs or components, It can protect the PCB components as no
    pressure would applied to them.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    ummm.. u sure u can put that tin in with recycling pick up?? usually that's just for your regular recyclables.. bottles, cans, newspaper, etc isn't it?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for posting this, I really wish more people, and business' would think this way.

    Im going to have to try the torch idea, thats pretty awesome. I have done lots of soldering and repair work, and I hate solder wick, and suckers, but thats from a production perspective, from a recycling perspective they are ok.

    Ive found that just adding solder, and shaking the component out works best for me. It does add a lot of heat, but its quick, which means lots of thermal shock, but (hopefully), not too much thermal overload. A solder pot is often what I like best, but dont personally own.

    2 soldering irons, and a bit of solder will remove most components, throughhole, or SMT.

    Sometimes SMT components are epoxied to the backside of boards, and you have to break the epoxy while heating all the leads on the component, I use dental tweezers, lots of solder, and a hot iron.

    I've used hot air pretty extensively in repair, and its probably the most dangerous/easiest to mess up badly. When you use it right, hot air can make very nice looking solder, and make very difficult soldering easy.

    Why havnt I seen anyone post using a hotplate to desolder?


    10 years ago on Step 8

    I would highly recommend getting some desoldering braid as well. They sell it at Radioshack and it is some amazing stuff. Parts will literally fall out of the PCB with just a touch or two. It is a braided piece of copper that you put between the iron and the soldered pins of a component and the solder wicks away from the part onto the braid. I used to desolder like this with just some pliers and a iron and then I added the braid into the mix recently and you can strip an entire board, every component in such a small amount of time and so easily too. It is also good in cases where you have heat sensitive components because you do not need to keep reheating it over and over again as you free each pin.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 8

    I do a lot of desoldering with a "solder sucker", which is a tool that has a plunger on a spring and a heat resistant nozzle tip.  You set it, place it over the lead as you heat it with the soldering iron and then SNAP! it sucks up the solder from the pin, leaving a bare pad and wire.   :)

    Here is one example of the tool.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    i have heard that solder suckers can cause static (or static can be found on the tip) and this can damage mosfets. if you still want to use it then connect all the pins together before starting....


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    I've heard that as well. The unit I linked above (OK industries DP-200) is ESD Safe though, so that's not a concern.

    soldering iron

    8 years ago on Step 5

    Your soldering iron with red handle (on picture above) looks excellent iron for removing most of through-hole components , but If you wish to remove some components from LCD TV or new gadgets such as iPod Touch, Kindle ebook reader or iPad you really need good soldering iron with small conical tip. For some temperature-sensitive components such as some ICs, diodes, MOSFETs, etc. I suggest using a temperature controlled soldering iron because too much heat can damage components.

    Hi This is an interesting article.  I have salvaged may  parts off of old boards.  I use a regular heat gun and it works great..

    The only problem I have is I end up with a batch of parts with little 1/4 inch wires..   The next part I need requires a wire long enough to reach across a two or three hole span in a PC Board.

    Has anybody found a neat way to extend those leads..