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Salvaging from broken machinery can be a really good way to get useful parts for free, and can also help to minimise waste. This page will list useful parts that can be found in common consumer appliances, as well as projects in which they can be used.

It is probably best to salvage as needed, for the majority of parts. If the parts you need aren't listed here, come back and add them, when you figure out where to find them.

Electronics[edit | edit source]

Tools needed[edit | edit source]

A mimimal tool set for salvaging electronic components is:

  • A soldering iron
  • Solder wick (copper braid), or a solder sucker (harder to use than a wick, but less wasteful).
  • Pointy-nosed pliers, or tweezers
  • Screwdrivers for taking apart cases

Basic Electronics[edit | edit source]

Basic electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, sensors etc. are easy to find in most consumer electronics. There are two major types: through-hole, and surface mount devices (SMD). SMDs are more difficult to handle without specialised equipment, although it can be done.[1]

If your PCB boards don't have many components that will be damaged by heat, you can mass-remove components with a heat gun.[2]

Good sources for through-hole components include:

  • Any very old electronics (earlier than 2000)- SMDs are only fairly recently widespread.
  • Monitors. Older CRT monitors, especially, but some older LCD monitors also had through-hole circuits. Often have large capacitors, transformers, and inductors.

Links with descriptions of where to find components:

Stepper Motors[edit | edit source]

Stepper motors are useful beasts, that can be used for driving things like RepRaps, or DIY CNC machines. Can be expensive to buy new. Stepper motors usually need driver chips too.


  • Old dot-matrix/inkjet printers. These can include useful driver chips.
  • Old hard drives (PC form factor, <20G, in the head control).
  • Floppy Drives, some CD/DVD drives.

Servo Motors[edit | edit source]

Servo motors are useful for controlling moving parts that need to be at a particular angle. Small servos are reasonably cheap to buy, but can also be salvaged.


Speakers[edit | edit source]

Can be salvaged very easily from anything that makes sound. Stereo TVs often have good speakers

Mechanical components[edit | edit source]

Bearings[edit | edit source]

Belts[edit | edit source]

Gears[edit | edit source]

Optics[edit | edit source]

Fresnel lenses[edit | edit source]

These can be ripped out of rear-projection TVs by hand, and used more or less as-is, with a frame, as a solar collector for Concentrated solar power, or solar cooking.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Salvaging Surface Mount Components - Instructables
  2. How to salvage parts from PCBs with a heat gun - PCB Heaven.
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Authors ned
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Language English (en)
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Created January 26, 2013 by ned
Modified August 29, 2023 by StandardWikitext bot
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