Covered Topics

Please see the list of the topics I've covered. It's located near the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping in!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Obtaining Parts and Supplies During The Great Recession

Most normal people are feeling some effects of the current economic mess, even if they are still employed. Given the war being actively waged upon the American middle class, many folks are having more and more trouble finding money to just pay for day to day needs - much less the parts to build or create new projects.

Plato (427 BC - 347 BC) said that "necessity is the mother of invention". During the 1930's - the Great Depression - folks built their own radios and other projects from whatever they could find around. Grandpa's "oatmeal box radio" is but one example. During WW2, prisoners of war actually built functioning crystal radios using razor blades, scrap wire and other bits and pieces they found. Here in my lab, I too have embraced some of the ways of my grandparents' generation. During the past year I have learned of a couple ways to quickly and efficiently recover components intact from used PC boards. This has already saved me considerable funds - some of which I have been able to invest in those few specialty parts that I could not find in my gleanings.

From two dead CDROM drives removed from computers I have salvaged the lasers, motor drives, and a few other semiconductor devices. I have set the laser diodes aside for future use in an experimental "free space" optical communications system. From a 56K modem card I salvaged all the parts I needed to make a telephone line interface for conference calls. Ham operators take note - the 600 ohm line transformer out of a modem works great in a phone patch circuit. Why pay $10 - $20 plus shipping for this component? Also on the modem card were the MOV surge suppressor devices, high voltage capacitors, ... needed to interface with telephone lines.

Computer power supplies yield transformers, bridge rectifiers, resistors, low and high voltage electrolytic caps, and assorted semiconductor devices. Even the metal case can be reused for certain projects - especially if looks aren't critical.

A dead computer can yield fans, heat sinks, connectors, and some surface-mount components. The case can be salvaged for the metal.

TV sets, VCRs, stereo components, home appliances and personal electronic devices yield all sorts of good, useful electronic and mechanical parts. High voltage experimenters and builders of small Tesla coils will likely want the flyback transformers and high voltage capacitors from TVs and CRT-type computer monitors. Get 'em now - these parts will become scarce in the next few years as flat screen monitors and TVs take over.

So, before you hand your old computer, TV, or any other appliances to be scrapped or recycled, check and see if there's something you could salvage off it and use before throwing it away. Those parts will either end up in a landfill or melted down anyway - so why not reuse them yourself?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Constructive comments are welcome! Spam, or any abusive or profane comments will be deleted.