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Where can i find (scavenge) a 555 timer and other commonly used ICs? Answered

I have a special interest in components retrieval from out or no-more-in-use eletronics, and since i live out ou the US that is probably the easiest/cheapest/quickest way to get some parts.

A mini-question: what is the main application of the 555? I've seen it mostly controlling dc motors and
blinking lights and in some amps. Knowing the use of it is another way to know where to find it.

So, just like a stepper motor can be found in most (if not all) printers and scanners, where can we find ICs and other crucial parts for projects?


The 555 is a general-purpose timer chip. It's been used in many different applications when a delay or repeating cycle is needed.

These days, electronic devices are more and more likely to use large-scale integrated (LSI) chips rather than basic tools like the 555 and 7400-series digital components and individual op-amps. Unless you're looking at older circuits, you may find scavenging much more difficult than it would have been 20 years ago. Depends on where you are, of course, and what you're disassembling, but here in the states I wouldn't expect to be able  to rescue anything much more than passive components,  power transistors, cases and controls -- and even the passive components are increasingly likely to be surface-mount parts, which are harder to reuse.

I've taken apart a bunch of stuff.  I've never seen a chip branded 555 except in the electronics store.

That doesn't mean that they weren't there it just means they had another number on it.

What I would suggest is make a list of the numbers on the chips you find and look on the internet to see what they are.  It's likely you'll find that a few are 555 equals.  You'll probably find some that are not listed anywhere.  Those are custom chips that were probably made just for that piece of electronics gear.

In the end you will learn a lot about what the different chips that you find do.

Good luck and have fun.

Thats what i've been doing, first i find them, then i look out for what they are useful for. It's usually a long run to only find some obscure datasheet.

Does anyone know the marking on a 555 chip? I have so much stuff from the 80's and 90's, maybe I can find it for my project in small form?

A great place to find old electronics that may have some of the parts you're interested in is GoodWill. I picked up an old Betamax player a few weeks ago for $5. It was filled with enough stuff to keep me de-soldering for weeks. You can always find things like old phones, alarm clocks, radios, and electronic toys. One drawback is that they're only in the US and Canada. A local  Salvation Army might be another place to look, although they tend to have far fewer electronics.

In the same vein, you can often get loads of (broken) old electronics for cheap or free from rubbish dumps. Some dumps have shops that sell salvalged stuff, others don't like you picking stuff up there, but if you're going to dump stuff, and you pick up a few small things, no-one will notice.

For the inverse problem, of taking apart some piece of electronic junk and answering the question:  what does this IC do?  I have found the following resource to be very helpful:
Provided you can still read the part number off the IC.

The only item of consumer electronics where I recall finding a 555, or maybe it was a 556 (the dual version), was an in ultrasonic pest-repeller, and that was like 20 years ago. 

So I'm wondering, do you have a access to steady stream of broken electronics? Sort of like these guys:
This video tries to portray the recycling story as some sort of environmental nightmare, basically the world's rich people dumping their garbage on the poor, and while that's certainly true, another aspect of this story is you know, like,  "Hey, free parts!"

I dont really have "miles, and miles, and miles, of nothing but old eletronics", but i do what i can to get my hands on what i know has some use. Still, last week an uncle of mine threw away two old scanners and three old printers.

That hurts, man.

The site is faved. The video is quite disturbing for me, if you ask.

I also hate to see electronic stuff get thrown away, and as a result I've got a lot of it piled up too.   Some people are the same way with pets, always taking in stray dogs and cats.  Thankfully my pile of old circuit boards and CRT monitors doesn't eat much.

The Frontline video is a little disturbing I guess, but its part of a greater story, the story of the global economy and some of the nonsensical stuff that goes on with respect to demand, supply, and prices and such. 

As another example, one from here in the former US, and related to original topic of finding electronic components, there's this chain-store called DollarTree, one of many such "dollar stores" who sell junk, mostly imported from China, for a dollar (1 USD) per unit.  The interesting part is this:  Depending on what electronic part you're looking for, the local "dollar store" may be the cheapest, or only, place in town to buy it.  For example if the part is a 3mm headphone jack, it's cheaper to just buy a $1 FM-radio, than it is to buy the same part from a retailer that sells parts, like RadioShack.  I mean in the town nearest to where I live those are the two stores that *might* have some particular electronic component. Usually neither of them have it, but that's another story. 

The main story I was trying to tell is that it's sort of uncanny when I can buy a whole working FM-radio for much, much less than it would cost to buy the parts that went into it, which seems to say that the manufacturer in China is getting the electronic components for a much, much, lower price than I can find. 

There are similar stories happening with other materials, like sulfuric acid.  In rail-car quantities, the price is something on the order of 100 USD per metric ton, or 0.10 USD/kilogram.  But on the street, the aspiring teenage chemistry student, or wannabe terrorist, has to buy the stuff in diluted form as "drain opener" at a price closer to  10 USD/kilogram, or roughly 100 times the price paid by the factory owner who can buy it in bulk.

Of course the really "big picture" of all the material flows on this planet seems to be a sort of frantic race to extract *all* the world's natural resources, and turn these into cheap plastic crap to be sold in the dollar store, and subsequently thrown away.

If you can tolerate another enviro-sploitation video, the "Story of Stuff" explains some of this great mystery of material flows in the modern world.

As you've probably already figured out, the best deal to be found on any material thing is when it is a thing you already have in your junk pile.  Or it's a thing everyone around you thinks is junk, and they'll give it too you for free, pay you to haul it away, etc.

there is what we call "economies of scale" you know" you might wanna look it up.

I've seen some 555s in an old satelite dish reciever and a switching power supply recently - both were 80s - early 90s era.

Actually - asia is your EASIEST bet to get your hands on any chips of any specificity, not the US.  :)

Specific use ICs like decade counters, hex inverters, amps, and timers are VERY rare these days because everything can be handled with a cheap microprocessor or one-off cpu dies. 

Not that trying to recycle old parts is a bad thing, but you'll be hard pressed to find any useful chips in any electronics from the last 15 years.