Articles/Electronics/Other/Salvaging Electronic Components

So you need some electronics parts, but are horrified by the outrageous prices at Radio Shack? Worry no more, everything you need is all around you. In every electronic device there is something to be salvaged. You see that monitor that you are reading this from? It is an electrical component goldmine, as is the CRT television set you probably have as well. But there is a problem. You don't want to rip apart your new and operational devices just for parts do you?

The answer is to stop throwing electronic stuff away after it breaks. Start ripping it apart and seeing what you can take. Once you get a look at one of those circuit boards loaded with expensive components that you were about to throw away, you will be in electrical heaven.

Even if you don't have a lot of devices that break or wear out or are just too old, there are plenty of places to find them. Talk to your family and friends. They would probably be glad to fork over what they thought was junk so that you can salvage what you can from it. Keep an eye out for electronics stuff sitting on the sidewalk for the trash collectors to take care of. Hit up the junkyards and dumps for some goodies.

Once you have some stuff to salvage, be prepared for some work. Some electronics are just a pain in the ass to take apart. The tools you will need will include screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and maybe even hammers. When you are taking stuff apart, be careful of the inner construction. Many manufacturers don't care about sharp edges on the insides of their products that can shred your hand.

The goal here is to find the circuit board(s) and remove it/them. Once you have the circuit board out, you can keep what you want of the leftovers and throw the rest out. Here you will need a soldering iron and screwdriver to remove components. To remove components, simply heat the solder joint (usually on the bottom of the circuit board, and gently bend the component so that the wire lead pulls out on one side. Then repeat the operation for the other wire lead(s) and you will eventually have freed the component.

Exercise caution! Overheating of components can cause their demise, particularly in transistors, integrated circuits, and other semiconductor devices. Take care to not burn yourself as the soldering iron will heat the wire leads and, oftentimes, the component casing to levels that can severely burn you. It may be easier to use a tool such as a needle-nose pliers to tug on the component. Also, watch out for capacitors. Capacitors can store their charge for long periods of time and large capacitors can contain electricity that can seriously harm or kill you. Before touching any component on a circuit board, it is good practice to rub the bottom on a metal surface to discharge any components that have retained their charge.

If you follow safe procedures while salvaging components, you will have no problem at all, and will soon build up quite a collection of valuable electrical components.