Most engineers would argue that modern equipment are way specialised and not worth repurposing, but you will be surprised. This might be because most electronic parts have been miniaturised and embedded to one multifunctional piece. As the saying goes “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, this to me is like treasure hunting. However, you could quickly find yourself on the verge of hoarding!
As a DIY electronics enthusiasts & hobbyist of anything mechanical I find salvaging other people collection of electronics fun and especially on weekends when my kids are glued to the television, I use that spare free time ravaging electronic devices that have reached their shelf life maybe after upgrades or become obsolete due to trends, what you should never get rid off is one of the generators from houseshowoff.com.
Therefore, before you go throwing your electronics as junk you might want to hold onto them as they have precious electronic components that can be repurposed or recycled.
Why recycle electronic parts?
- Economic gains
- Environmentally friendly
- You learn technical skills
Common household items and parts to cannibalise.
A quick safety tip invest in some proper quality safety goggles and a tool kit with screwdrivers, grips, pliers, wire cutters, strippers, soldering iron, fluke multi-meter, oscilloscope and propane torch for mass de-soldering when your more experienced.
A good way of finding electronic components
Some of the components we will highlight in this article from common household consumer products can cause serious injury or death when used improperly, therefore, make sure you know background knowledge of what the parts your dismantling does and what their purposes are.
- Magnets – Speakers and Motors
- Regulators – They are relatively expensive to buy and can be freely found in any powered device. Cheap voltage regulator examples are LM317T, LM317 voltage regulator.
- Fans – Power adaptors, Computers, ovens, and equipment that need cooling
- Lasers – Disk players like CDROMs, DVD Players
- Transformers – Radio stereos, Microwaves
- Solar panels – Solar phone chargers, Garden lights, Driveway lights
- Diodes – Voltage regulators, power supplies
- Heat sinks – Power supplies, Television sets, computers
- Plugs – Power adapters, USB, audio 3.5mm,
- Motors – Cassette players, moving toys, printers, scanners, fax, electric toothbrushes, dishwashers
- Rechargeable batteries – uninterrupted power supply (UPS), driveway & garden lights, smart phones and cell phones
- Resistors – power supply, microwave, pretty much anything with a circuit board
- Wires & connectors – power cables, audio visual cables, motherboards,
- Sensors – Printers, scanners, gps trackers from satnav, phones,
- Gears – Printers, Scanners, Fax, moving toys, motors,
- Springs – VCR, Printers, Cassette player
Sources of Free Electronic Parts
In England we have a lot of recycling centres and with special permission you could be allowed by the yards to collect what you want and repurpose it.
However, in many developing countries they find themselves being the dumping ground of old electronics and obsolete equipment that is not needed. It reminds me of the day I finished high school and all we looked forward to, was the end of an era bonfire that marked our transition from high school to higher education in college and some people end of school life.
Similarly, a lot of people have these moments and instead of having a bonfire they consider the environment and trade them for a fee or free. Therefore, here are places you could check for free electronic parts within your community.
- Curb side on bin days
- Car boot sale and yard sales
- Craigslist and neighbourhood sites like gumtree
- Colleges and universities before end of year
- Apartment blocks bin yards
- Council run recycling yards
The above locations are often free, but you have to find the gems from the electronic devices by dismantling and getting the electronic components we highlighted in the previous section.
Since the emergence of Gen Z, we’ve become a throw-away society. This has been influenced by big business’ thirst for more profits from their consumers. Corporations are pushing their loyal consumers into buying the latest products especially phones and computer accessories cheaply and production of substandard consumer products that has short life cycles making us buy more of the same products repeatedly.
Think twice before you throw your electronic devices for new ones as you might be literary throwing away treasure.
Article written by Carol Kar, editor of madeforbabies.net and a proud mum of 2 kids.