Salvage Printed Circut Boards on the Cheap


Introduction: Salvage Printed Circut Boards on the Cheap

Using only a alligator clip, soldering iron you can salvage useful components from just about any "PCB" (printed circuit board) This is a relatively easy & cheap way you can start stockpiling parts for some of the projects listed here on the website!

NOTE: even when unplugged some circuits can still release vast amounts of current, voltage, electricty!


Heres a onsite salvaging saftey instructable worthy on mentioning

Other sites about safety associated with electronics

Be sure you are aware of the risks involved with these types of circuits by going to the provided links and reading up before attempting to salvage compnents from PCB's!
I myself have never been shocked doing this kind of salvaging, but it is a real possibility especially when the circuits contain high powered capacitors that could dischage currents delivering a shock that will make you see god in the form of pure white light right inside your very own eyesockets!

Sound cool?

Well its really not trust me!
Educate yourself about electrical saftey precautions and the dangers of electrical circuitry ect.. FIRST!

Statistcal info on electrocution related deaths:

(Most caused by 600 volts or less!)

Step 1: Tools and Techniques of the Trade

Dissasembling Printed Circut Board is a fairly simple task once you know the easy way to do it!

Mainly the whole trick here is to use the alligator clips as a FREE MOVING pair of "Helping Hands".

A medium sized pair of clips works well and you can change to smaller or larger clips depending on what the job calls for,
The clips grip smaller components easier than your big human fingers and they can withstand far more heat, the biggest reward of the clips is that they do little damage to components as opposed to needle nosed pliers or hemostats ect..

You may want to insulate your clips with electric tape on both sides for added protection against being burned from the heat of the solder iron that transfer through the iron to the board from the board to your clips from your clips to your fingers OUCH $%&%@!

This should also add some protection against electrocution.

Step 2: Removal of the Components

First step: You'll want to secure the board by some means.

I personally hold them between my legs while wearing thick jeans or shorts, you could use a vise or a helping hands tool or even a heavy pair of vise grips if available.

Another method is to tie a piece of string to the clips and then anchor the string to a large object allowing you to hold and wriggle the solder board with one hand and work the solder gun with the other while the anchored down clip does the holding.

Second step:

The trick to removing the used components is to hold them snugly and double check the grip before heating the solder with the solder gun and wriggling the components, if you don't have a good grip with the clips the clips themselves will likely wriggle and damage needed insulation and insulation coatings! Just be sure to secure the clips in the most secure and logical way possible before you heat the solder around the leads of a component!

Also be very careful not to slip the solder gun and cauterize yourself in the face or anywhere else for that matter!

Once the heat starts to transfer from the gun to the board and the sloder liquifies you can slowly wriggle the component out.

Try to run the solder guns tip back and forth between all of the leads of a particular component with the gun to heat the soldered leads evenly and prevent them from breaking!

Note: you may need to gently use pliers to remove larer components unless you have a massive pair of alligator clips!

I have included some pictures examples below of how to (and not to) hold different kinds of components.



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    13 Discussions

    this is awesome. I am not a tech guru or an electronic guy. So I guess I will have to Google what all the transistors, etc are and what they are for. LOL

    This would be easier with a pair of needle nose pliers instead of alligator clips

    1 reply

    Nice. I use a "helping hand" solder tool as a weight, I only have one alligator clip connected with one 'arm', simply attach to part underneath board, apply heat on top, and wait for the tool to pull out the part. This way you get an even pull on the part without any effort. Except that needed to retrieve the weight from the floor ;) I suppose you could solve that by putting the board up on a stand over the work bench.

    I have found that on some board it is vary useful to cut the boards with a dremal and cutoff wheel this gives a soldering pad with a small heat safety for the parts in other projects

    7 replies

    I have seen components destroyed by the vibration of cutting the PCB board with high speed rotary tools. So I tried snips, seen ICs break with that too. Then I bought this gadget called a Solder Pot and never looked back!

    yes Solder pots are a much better way but can be expensive. If I was building any project that was mission crucial I would use new parts in stead of salvaged parts in the first place. With salvaged parts there is all ways a risk of them to dysfunction due to being used once be for. The first heat then the time in use ECT. I have yet seen any standard set rule about salvaging any kind of parts form the IEEE or ISO. One should have a good judgement on what there doing and how the best way to do it. Based on many factors of the given board or parts your after a lot of times it is much better off just to go by new and save much frustration form your efforts being wasted. It is kinda like spending $100.00 to save $0.02

    Solder pot is just a tool in my shop. I use it for more than just salvaging parts. It makes a nice space heater for instance ha-ha! But seriously it is a handy thing to have.

    That I do agree with you on and how handy they are. I once worked for a big electronics company that had pots for production use. many of times I wonted to take one home. My budget at the time and where I lived would not play well with it I was stuck with a dremmel and or a soldering iron. a pot was on my dream tool list just below the digital O scope. Some day I will fill my shop with the tools on that list hahah but I might be to old to use them

    That was how I was exposed to solder pots too was when I worked assembling electronics. I got to work with a really nice digital oscilloscope when I trained at Casio, guy told me it cost $20,000? Was a while ago now, I do remember it had its own cart. I have an old analog Tek 2446 scope myself. It is almost digital, my scope has the "Y" option. I can remember when all I had was a Dremmel. But I can't remember how many Dremmels I've blown up (a few they can be pretty fragile). I've picked up a some other tools since then so now I have different tools to use on some of the tougher jobs. Salvaging with a soldering iron just takes too much time, and past that it simply doesn't work very well. I've stressed irons doing it myself. Save soldering irons for soldering. I hate for people to be put off by something good due to poor methods. I do feel if you are an electronics hobbyist salvaging is one of the time honored traditions of the hobby. How often have I read about the venerable "junkbox"? My "junkbox" is a 20 foot long storage shed now. I've scrapped mini computers that had dozens of highly populated PCBs in them. Now that I think about it that is when I bought my solder pot. When I chopped a PDP-11/34. I started out with a soldering iron, but realistically I'd still be working on that first board today if I hadn't gotten my solder pot. I think I've spent the past 25 or so years since then doing better things though.

    Yes I am more in for the hobbyist side of Electronics. ITT Teach needed to fill a student's char and I got stuck in to a two year degree . I wanted to do IT and played around with Electronics a young kid Radio Shack 150 in 1 project kits, and good old Heath kit ( may they rest in Pace as my head is bowed down) I am not complaining I did score a short term job from it and did work on some military boxes ( that s all I will say about that) and Weather satellites. at ITT Industries. I once had a good bench but the X- Wife she took it in the big D then soled it off dirt cheap lol if you lived around Garrett, IN you might have part of it on your bench now. life goes on right. I do have a junk box and all kinds of parts in it . Printers, scanners, CD drives and Hard drives have met there dissection and ended up in it. The gears among other parts are sweet for small robotics. I would like to do more board level dissection but I am limited to the old ways , and they are just not able to do it vary well like a pot would do a much better job. perhaps I might have to rig some thing up as a stand in an old toaster or some thing.

    I like to hold the board with goose necked pump pliers over heat. My solder pot pretty much dictated my technique to me. It being a rather fixed heat source. But I feel it is the right way to go. That way I can have control of the board in regards to the heating, and two hands when pulling parts out of the board too. A propane torch with a fan tip on it should work as well as my pot does. A gas stove might even do the trick. But you really have to be outside doing this stuff. Fiberglass is not the most fragrant aromatic when it is burning I have found. I've done some garage sales but never in Garrett.

    I have done this for years, but I use a propane tourch set very low, just pass it over the bottom of the board slowly. I use a pair of needel nose pliers to hold and pull on the component and in about 2 seconds the piece is out. they don't get as hot as the soldering iron makes them. I tried your way first, it was tooooo slow and components got toooo hot.