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Ask Slashdot: Projects For a Heap of Tech Junk?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the build-a-robot-army-and-send-it-to-texas dept.

Hardware Hacking 210

yenrabbit writes "A friend has just told me he has 80 CRT TVs, a stack of DVD players and hundreds of VCR machines, all broken and all mine free of charge. I can already think of a few awesome components I can extract (flyback transformers for high voltage contraptions and so on) and have a few ideas, such as DVD lasers, that I can build. But what else can be made from such a treasure-trove of components, and how would one go about processing such a large volume of stuff with the least amount of effort? Also, I don't have access to online shopping so I'd also like a pain free way of salvaging many simpler parts such as resistors as well." Another reader sent in a similar question: "The other day I went down to my University's property disposition center for the first time. In addition to mundane things like chairs and desks, it also had a wealth of technological devices, from old PCs and monitors to obscure medical and chemistry equipment. Honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed. I just don't know what I'd do with a old gene sequencing machine or a broken oscilloscope. Any ideas for fun projects? Or better yet, suggestions on how I can figure out which machines (or their components) are worth playing with?"

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Time machine (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047613)

Just do it.

Re:Time machine (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#43047791)

Laser CNC should be plausible with a lot of the parts from the VCRs / DVDs, assuming you can get or already have the controller boards (or are "electronic" enough to build them from reclaimed bits).

Re:Time machine (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43048071)

Laser CNC should be plausible with a lot of the parts from the VCRs / DVDs, assuming you can get or already have the controller boards (or are "electronic" enough to build them from reclaimed bits).

He said DVD *players*, not DVD burners, I don't think he can even melt wax with a 5mw DVD player laser.

A 150mw laser diode from a DVD burner laser might be able to melt plastic, but it sounds like a lot of work for little gain. Blu-ray burners are said to be closer to 1W.

But if you value your eyes, where appropriate laser goggles since an errant reflection from a powerful laser can quickly cause eye damage.

Re:Time machine (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43048153)

I am quite sure he meant using the MOTORS in the device, not the lasers.

Re:Time machine (1)

dr_dank (472072) | about a year ago | (#43047887)

Don't forget the crystals.

Re:Time machine (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43047915)

Nah...just throw the shit OUT.

At worst...maybe make one and only one pass through to see if anything is genuinely useful. But one thing I've found is...quit just gathering stuff that *might* be useful some day for *some* project.

That type of thinking lands you where I once was, and to where a number of my friends are, namely they have workshops, garages and even spreading into their very HOUSES just heaps of junk. Stuff piling up everywhere.

I've basically given myself a new mode of action. I have about 2-3 projects, things I can and will realistically get to in the next few months. I will collect things for those, buy them, or otherwise attain them.

Anything else, I pass on.

I've made up my mind, that I will not move a ton of useless, outdated shit around any more.

I'm still going through my stuff after the last one.

I found books, tons of stuff, tech stuff that was outdated. Into the trash.

I had a number of CRT monitors, I kept only the ones I needed for computers I have that do not yet have flat screens. The rest of the trash.

Old SGI workstations? In the trash.

Old network cards, old ram, keyboards I didn't need, the trash.

I'm actually once again starting to have a home office where I can find stuff I actually need to do the things I'm actually working on.

I still have a ways to go, but I'm unloading. I make enough money these days to where I can buy new or used stuff WHEN I NEED it for something I'm currently working on.

This also keeps me from getting into too many projects at once....and never having time to finish one. I have one friend, that bless his heart, he is like a cat and a laser pointer, always seeing something 'new' to start on, yet rarely finishing the last interesting project last month and way beyond, and yet, still accumulating stuff for all of them.

I know people like this...they have rooms that look like an audition for the tv show "Hoarders", and while I don't think it is so much a mental problem for them, it is the MO of always seeing possible treasure in a pile of shit, harvesting it, but never getting to it.

I figured out, the garbageman is my friend. I find something I've not used in awhile, it simply goes into the trash can, and they haul it away for me.

Re:Time machine (1)

brausch (51013) | about a year ago | (#43047991)

Absolutely agree with this. I accumulated things for over 25 years and have spent the last 10 slowly throwing things out. I'm a lot more selective now on what is actually worth the space in my house.

Re:Time machine (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048117)

Before throwing electronics away make sure to check the appropriate regulations in your area. Many of these things are actually classified as hazardous waste under various jurisdictions and must be handled differently than normal trash.

Re:Time machine (1, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43048511)

Of course, that's what rock quarries were made for: What you can't throw in the dump goes there.

Re:Time machine (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43048177)

Why don't you put things up on freecycle instead, maybe someone can find a use for them rather than making more e-waste.

Re:Time machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048465)

But he was just suggesting not to collect junk, why would he encourage other people?

Re:Time machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048495)

In my case, it's because when I hit that tipping point I just wanted the stuff GONE! It took up too damn much room and I didn't want to have it consuming even MORE room while it was sorted out / categorized so someone *might* call to come take it off my hands *sometime*. I can bin it and it's gone within a few days.

Re: freecycle (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43048547)

This is a great idea, and one that my wife often uses to get rid of things around the house we both decided are no longer needed.

BUT, freecycle can also have a hidden "cost"; your time and energy. On numerous occasions, we had people respond to a freecycle ad offering something, and then they turned into a no-show. That means we were stuck at home waiting for them to arrive, or alternately, hauled items out to the curb or doorstep, only to have to bring them back inside after they sat out all day and night, not getting picked up. That's on top of the initial time/effort required to make the listing for the item(s) in the first place.

It's great when the plan comes together and your junk becomes the next person's much needed item, in a quick and easy transaction. But it's just human nature that it's only going to work like that some of the time.

Personally, I've gotten to where I'd rather attempt to sell most of my items on Craigslist or even eBay, vs. freecycle. At least that way, I'm financially compensated in some manner for the effort required to do the listing -- and will generally come out far ahead of just that.

You binned some SGI workstations??? (0)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#43048239)

Mate, I'll agree with the lot of the stuff you threw out , but really , binning equipment like that is just not on. Your geek card should be torn up in front of you and you should be restricted to using Windows 3 on a 486 for the rest of your life.

Seriously , those things are collectors items - you've been pretty foolish. Even if you didn't want them someone else would have but now they're just landfill. A real shame.

Re:You binned some SGI workstations??? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43048569)

Windows 3 on a 486? You're being generous.

I'd go with Windows 3.11 on a 286 with a Hercules graphic card.

Re:Time machine (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048253)

Couldn't have said it better.. the only thing I would add is find your local recycling center (most county/city gov offices have them in some capacity) and drop it off there, rather than directly to the trash.

Re:Time machine (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#43048437)

Agreed completely.

But everywhere you used the word "trash", the reader should infer the word "recycle". Many communities have recycling centers that will accept electronics for free.

For the adventurous among you, you might consider attempting to recover the precious metals yourself. I have a friend who recovers the gold from plated card-edge fingers. His last run of perhaps 14 old ISA bus cards yielded about 20 grams of gold. The drawback, of course, is that it uses corrosive chemicals, including nitric and hydrochloric acids, which have to be safely disposed of.

Re:Time machine (3, Funny)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43048537)

Hmm...I'd almost agree, though IMO one should never give up the opportunity to throw a perfectly good CRT off of the side of a building. They make awesome noises when they hit the ground.

Haven't you ever had to throw a big piece of glass away, and you ask yourself: Why am I just going to "throw" this away without breaking it first? Honestly I rarely if ever throw away big pieces of glass without breaking it first, and I think everybody here agrees. CRT's are equally fun to destroy.

Re:Time machine (1)

RobinH (124750) | about a year ago | (#43048583)

A person who keeps things around because they "might be useful" is not the type of break things "just because it would be cool". Completely opposite personalities there. The reason it's being kept around is because the person sees value in it. Destroying it is devaluing it.

Re:Time machine (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43048609)

Although psychically provocative, blowing up CRTs spews lead around. Those things should be disposed of properly.

Go shoot watermelons with a .222 - about the same level of visceral satisfaction.

Re:Time machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048611)

we'll, I've been keeping only the good stuff for about 20 years, I just think of the price and how instant accessibility changes how i hack on things. It all fits in one closet along with all my camera gear and all my rc stuff.

I'd totally part out the TV's take out any big caps transformers etc, wiring. that stuff all comes in handy and it is so nice to just have a bunch of parts on hand.

I probably have about $10,000 in parts and tools that i've gotten for free over the years. 'Scopes, logic analyzers, pro soldering stations, freq counters, full E96 parts sets of resistors caps etc. spectroscope.

whenever i get a better unit, i ditch the less good one and give it to a kid or ebay it.
granted I love hacking the 'tronics so the junk is more meaningful to me.

Re:Time machine (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43048697)

I second this. Go through and strip out what you might need for backups and spot fixes like wires and connectors, and pitch the rest. I've kept a ton of old hardware mostly for naught. Technology simply progresses too quickly to make any of it useful and the fuss of wrestling with old hardware just isn't worth your time.

Now, if anything is decent you might want to consider donating to a non-profit or a high school for kids to tinker around with.

Re:Time machine (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43048481)

Time machine? That has potential constructive it's just not evil enough.

With all of those lasers, I'd hope somebody could come up with a schematic for building a death ray. I've always wanted to have my own death ray.

Recycle it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047631)

Recycle it

Re:Recycle it (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43048149)

Recycle it

Yes, and do it before the cost to recycle it goes up.

Re:Recycle it (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#43048593)

Reuse is more efficient, Captain Planet.

wall of monitors. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047641)

Use all the crt's to recreate the architect scene in the third matrix movie.

Re:wall of monitors. (3, Interesting)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#43047815)

I can think of a use for all the crt's. Here in RI we're still waging the marriage equality battle and the bigots like to bus them in. So I thought to be funny - I could get there ahead of time and setup a bunch of monitors around the room and just have it cycle through the faces of the supporters. Talk about an art installation.

Re:wall of monitors. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047933)

I can think of a use for all the crt's.

19" CRTs with 100-degree tubes are highly prized by collectors/restorers of arcade equipment. (The 19VLUP22 used in Tempest used a 100-degree angle of deflection, rather than the more common 90-degree deflection. The game was prone to burning holes in the phosphor under certain hardware failure conditions, and a collection of 80 or so CRT TVs may have something useful in them. Black-and-white 15" and 19" tubes are also useful to restorers of vintage gaming hardware.)

Re:wall of monitors. (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | about a year ago | (#43048001)

for what you'd pay in electricity and labor in just a short order, you could make up for by buying higher-quality cheap LCDs...a quick scan at amazon shows there are new and refurbished lcds for $50. There's very little use for a CRT.

Re:wall of monitors. (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year ago | (#43048739)

What are you talking about? There is only one matrix movie.

How will you dispose of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047651)

Although the DVD and VCR's can be exchanged for cash, the rest is just (somewhat) hazardous waste. Even if you scrounge around, remember you've got to get rid of the stuff eventually, and you can't legally put TV tubes in the trash in most countries.

Sometimes "free" is still too expensive! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047671)

Are you sure it isn't going to cost you a fortune later to get rid of the stuff you don't salvage?

Re:Sometimes "free" is still too expensive! (2)

MarkGriz (520778) | about a year ago | (#43047885)

Why do you think his "friend" is giving it away.

OTOH..... gene sequencing machine.....ZOMBIE ARMY!!!!

Re:Sometimes "free" is still too expensive! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43048623)

It's probably an old one with impossible to get consumeables.

Just wait a a couple of years. They'll be giving them away in cereal boxes.

Re:Sometimes "free" is still too expensive! (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43048133)

Responsibly getting rid of the stuff, yes, it can cost money.

Anodizing Plant (1)

gearloos (816828) | about a year ago | (#43047683)

So you take the tubes out of the monitors, and put in 5 gal fish tanks. Take the power supplies and poof! You now have your own anodizing plant. Just do small parts :))

Re:Anodizing Plant (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43047759)

and a bunch of useless tubes full of leaded glass.

Re:Anodizing Plant (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43047797)

And what else is leaded glass used for?

Yeah, build on of those.

junk.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047685)

leave it, unless you plan to properly dispose of said e-waste when you are done making junk with junk. most of the time throw-a ways aren't worth dealing with---its why their being thrown away

Leave the sequencer... (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43047689)

... they are not nearly as straightforward to use as you might have imagined, even if you thought it would be difficult to use. If you don't have access to a way to purify your DNA for it, forget about it. Even if you could purify your DNA well, you would still need the supplies (primers, buffers, molecular-grade H2O, etc) to run the reactions and then the software to analyze the results. And then once you get one reaction to work you have to set up and run many many more to sequence even one important gene to a meaningful extent. That said, don't even dream of sequencing your entire genome at home with an older sequencer (or any other that you could afford on the kind of salary that a slashdot reader is paid).

If you want some of your own DNA sequenced, send it off and then throw a big crazy party with the time, money, and space you saved by not attempting to do it yourself.

Re:Leave the sequencer... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43047753)

" If you don't have access to a way to purify your DNA for it, forget about it"
you mean like ordering it online?

" by not attempting to do it yourself."
Booooooo. I would rather try learn and fail.

Re:Leave the sequencer... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43047951)

" by not attempting to do it yourself."
Booooooo. I would rather try learn and fail.

Well said; also notable, if you don't try, you will always fail.

Dr. Seuss had a similar feeling, and it's only appropriate that I quote him on today, the day before his 109th birthday:

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

Re:Leave the sequencer... (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43048521)

If you don't have access to a way to purify your DNA for it, forget about it

you mean like ordering it online?

No, not like ordering online. How do you expect to order your own DNA online if you want to sequence one of your own genes? And if you're going to send some of your cells to someone to purify your DNA, you might as well pay them to sequence it for you as they will have access to better instrumentation that will do it faster, cheaper, and more accurately.

by not attempting to do it yourself

Booooooo. I would rather try learn and fail.

The problem is there isn't a whole lot to learn from doing this. Methods and instruments have changed dramatically. What you would learn from an old sequencer would not be useful for a new one because the methods and results are so dramatically different.

To put it into a computer analogy, it would be similar to trying to learn computer animation by purchasing an old SGI Octane (after all, they used SGIs for Jurassic Park!) and spending a ton of money on old IRIX software, only to then realize that nobody uses it any more and you would have been better off financially and time-wise to buy a powerful PC and learn Blender.

Hence if your goal is to learn the old method just to learn the old method, then go for it. Your results will likely be garbage and your chance of getting anything useful out of it are very slim (after all, someone did get rid of the old sequencer). If, on the other hand, you want to learn how it is done today, and get meaningful results, stay away from it and talk to someone with a sequencer from this decade.

Re:Leave the sequencer... (1)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year ago | (#43048453)

Why not just try to sequence enough genes, to have it multiplied with a DIY PCM machine, and create the super deadly flu, which according to /. was capable of killing 50% of humanity?

Re:Leave the sequencer... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43048473)

I imagine something like a wall length Kodak photo developing machine seen back in the 80s (local pharmacy like Eckerds, Walgreens, CVC... etc). So you find one of those used, eh? Ya, I agree. Send the film to be developed elsewhere. The chemicals, process flow, time,, so not worth it.

Components (5, Interesting)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about a year ago | (#43047693)

You quite rightly said that it'll be full of:

Coils, ferrite magnets, capacitors, resistors, various discrete transistors and IC's, wires, motors, transducers (build a whacky digital backup medium using VHS tapes!), chassis pieces to build new projects on, raw materials (steel, plastic).

If you can't think of anything, don't take it on. Recycling at the component level is VERY labour-intensive - one idea (and I don't want to give too many for free because this is my business) is to train volunteers for accredited qualifications in electronic repair and servicing (City and Guilds do a good course at different levels with almost that exact name). While they're learning, they can be labouring :-)

Re:Components (0)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43047775)

Your job is thinking up obvious ideas that people are already doing every day?

Re:Components (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047969)

I read it as 'my business is recycling electronics at the component level'. Perhaps you could benefit from some remedial reading comprehension.

Re:Components (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43047979)

+1 Zing!

Re:Components (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048331)

Rubbish troll, it's obvious what she meant, how dare you fail so bad at reading comprehension with such a low UID!

What's this place coming to???

Re:Components (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048427)

Recycling at the component level is VERY labour-intensive

Heat gun, pliers for holding it, and tap a corner of the board on concrete. Everything falls off, especially surface mount components. Maybe ten minutes per board, unless all the parts are through hole. The thing it can't remove intact are the plastic connectors, because they'll melt. It's infinitely faster than desoldering irons and solder suckers.

Some through hole parts are easier to cut one or both leads (if they're long enough to still be useful).
Resettable fuses (if any) melt to pieces at soldering temperatures, so salvaging them requires cutting the solder with a razor blade beforehand.

After sorting the SMD parts, I use slim CD jewel cases with double stick tape inside to store them neatly.

Disposing of the vacuum tubes is probably more trouble than it's worth. I personally wouldn't want 80, unless I had some way to dispose of them. The value of the components in the monitor is approximately $2, but disposing of a monitor where I live is $10-20 (I forget which).

Two words (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047705)

Beowulf cluster.

Re:Two words (3, Funny)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | about a year ago | (#43048207)

I'm not sure what anyone would do with a Beowulf cluster of VCRs, but I think it would be awesome!

Fill your basement (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43047735)

And call yourself a Ham.


Re:Fill your basement (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43047913)

Come by and get the 35" tube TV in my closet while you're at it. I can't give that away.

Re:Fill your basement (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43048079)

Come by and get the 35" tube TV in my closet while you're at it. I can't give that away.

I put my 35" TV out in the sidewalk with a 'free' sign on it, then put an ad on Craigslist-Free saying there's a free TV on the corner of X and Y. 20 minutes later a hipster was wheeling it away on his skateboard.

Re:Fill your basement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048241)

A hipster took it away on a skateboard? Somehow I find it hard to believe that a hipster could lift a skateboard, let alone a TV to put on it.

Re:Fill your basement (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about a year ago | (#43048271)

This does work well.
I took a garbage bag and an old vacuum to the dumpster. I still had to go back to take one more bag and by the time I walked back to the dumpster the vacuum was gone. That took less than 5min and no craigslist ad.

Re:Fill your basement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048283)

If noone takes it for free, put a sign on it that says "$20" and some idiot will steal it before you know it.

Give them to kids (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#43047739)


* Give them to kids as an arts-and-crafts (not electronics) project.
* Give them to kids who know enough to not electrocute themselves or burn down the house as electronics projects.

Skip the tube TVs though or make a rule that they aren't allowed to open up the TV: They have lead in them and you don't want the legal or moral responsibility of having kids around lead.

Don't bother with salvaging common parts (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about a year ago | (#43047743)

Also, I don't have access to online shopping so I'd also like a pain free way of salvaging many simpler parts such as resistors as well

Save yourself the time and effort and get access to online shopping. Frankly, even if you have to wait a month or two, or place a bulk order, it'd be worth it. Standard rolls of resistors and capacitors are cheap.

Not only that, but in modern technology most stuff is going to be surface mounted and useless to you. You'll probably find through-hole components in the VCRs, but it takes time and effort to desolder stuff, and you're left with tiny leads... all for a part that in bulk probably costs 2 cents. You should really only be doing this kind of salvage if you're trying to fix your spacecraft on Mars.

That said, it might be worth desoldering large or unusual components if you think you might have a use for them. If any components or daughterboards are connected with ribbon cables, etc., it's easy to remove those.

Wear gloves. If you don't, you're going to end up with cuts all over your hands, not to mention dirt, dust, adhesive, and who knows what else.

EGA monitors? (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43047809)

EGA monitors are pretty rare these days. If you find some, offer them to the folks at the Vintage Computer Forums, they'll be appreciated.

VCF would be a great place to find good homes for a lot of these items actually. Things like EMS cards for XT machines, or anything EISA.

A lot of beer... (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | about a year ago | (#43047865)

and a tall building.

Re:A lot of beer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047997)

and a tall building. Detroit.

Hoarding is a disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047875)

My parents owned an electronic business up until the late 80's. There was all kinds of piles of things to play with. Eventually we had to pay big bucks to get rid of it. I kept a few of the tube audio amplifiers, a tube tester, an most of the SAMS modules just because. Hell I even broke up the yokes of the crt's (at least a hundered of them) and reclaimed a lot of copper but that was no where near the price we had to pay to get rid of the rest and that was in the early 90's.

Word of advice when working around CRT's, get something to short out the CRT under the anode to the chassis before dismantling it. They hold a charge even months after their last use. To break the vaccum on a CRT without causing an explosion, tap and break the glass at the tip by the pins. It will be a nice slow hiss.

You can't build anything different with a DVD player, a CRT, and a VCR if you have one of them or a hundred of them.

let me guess, you're single (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43047889)

because if a wife saw you come home with all that junk she wouldn't let you in the house

go get a girlfriend. WTF is the point of sitting around messing with all this stuff?

Re:let me guess, you're single (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048113)

because if a wife saw you come home with all that junk she wouldn't let you in the house

Six weeks after getting married my wife calls me and said she saw a computer sitting next to the dumpster at her old apartment and do I want her to pick it up for me. I knew right then I'd made the right choice.

girls asking to put your penis in their mouth? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047909)


How strange

Re:girls asking to put your penis in their mouth? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048095)

Instead he gets men to pee in his butt.

Obvious business opportunity (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43047923)

Old useless equipment + sledgehammer + $3 to take a few swings = money for charity

Re:Obvious business opportunity (1)

realsilly (186931) | about a year ago | (#43048025)

If it can't be fixed or reused then this is a great idea in so many ways. People need a way to dispose of pent up frustrations. Charge more like $/difficulty it is to completely destroy; and then sift through the pieces for precious materials, gold and copper and other metals.

Anything that can be recycled should be, ie plastic, glass, metal etc...

You'd just have to be willing to clean crap up. Make sure everyone wears safety goggles and they must sign a waiver so you're not held responsible for damages to themselves.

Enjoy playing that same music they played in the movie Office Space when they were completely destroying that fax machine. ;)

Re:Obvious business opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048141)

> fax machine

Re:Obvious business opportunity (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43048181)

and a lawsuit for all the toxins which will get spewed into the air:

  - leaded glass in the CRTs (not to mention the voltage danger)
  - lead in the solder
  - cadmium in the PCBs


Please recycle it responsibly.

Re:Obvious business opportunity (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#43048657)

Lead and cadmium don't evaporate.

Re:Obvious business opportunity (1)

fotoflojoe (982885) | about a year ago | (#43048445)

"PC Load letter"... What the fuck does that mean??

Negative Worth (1)

methano (519830) | about a year ago | (#43047929)

CRT's have negative worth. We have a lot of CRT monitors sitting around gathering dust. I try to get people to just get rid of them the most benign way we can. They're worse than worthless. If you were standing on the street and someone handed you a CRT monitor, your net worth would drop.

Re:Negative Worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048273)

No kidding. If someone tries to foist off 80 CRTs on you, don't take them for less than $3,000. And even then, you may still lose money on the deal.

Re:Negative Worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048295)

Indeed, it's hard enough to get rid of the old 14" LCDs that have the 300:1 contrast ratio and 1024x768, but ultimately, charities will usually take them for free anyways. CRTs OTOH, you have to pay for them to be recycled as few people want them anymore, not with all those mid '90s LCDs that are dirt cheap now.

Re:Negative Worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048485)

Very true. They turn up on the street all the time here. Sometimes I think about yanking the plug for copper; but I'm not a tweaker so I don't do that. I don't know who takes them. Maybe the homeless guys try to pull metal out of it; but it might not even be worth it for them because they'd have to haul it in a cart to a place where they think they could get away with that.

CRT -> next eWaste event in your community, and pray it doesn't end up poisoning kids in China. You could argue that it's moral to hold onto it so it won't polute those kids. OTOH, if we have a long tail of old CRTs that need to be disposed that'll be worse because the economies of scale for recycling them might no longer exist. Small scale recycling could be worse than large scale.

So. If the government had any money left, it'd be smart to do a CRT buy-back program. $5 to cart the thing down, get them out of the community quickly and en masse. Do proper recycling in bulk.

For those few who cling to the notion that it'll be an antique some day... well... somebody's great grandchildren might end up with an antique. Is it really worth it? You don't even know them...

Dontate them to a poor college (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047939)

It is unfortunate that many colleges in war zones have had their equipment destroyed.
    My father donated computers to a college in Africa. He had contacted the college president, and he said what he would take or would not take.
    The photo copy machine at the giant state university was going to be sent to Africa, but the copier company did not have a repair person in the country let alone the continent. They did not send the photocopier.
      That is why it is important to see what college needs, then just sending them your junk.

I know! (0)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43047941)

Pollute the groundwater in a third world country!

That's what everyone else does with them.

Get yourself on Hoarders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43047945)

Well, you could always fill your house with em ... then your S.O. and/or family can call A&E and tell em you're a hoarder so that Mat Paxton will come to your house and throw them away for you.

Just make sure you kind of resist the cleanup effort first - cuz you know ... all those projects you wanted to do but never got around to.

Or just wait a few years till you're genuinely unable to get rid of em and you're at the point of pooping in a bucket, then call A&E for reals.

Hoarders... (1)

fishbonz (246374) | about a year ago | (#43047989)

Have you ever seen that show Hoarders.....

It is a good thing you asked ahead of time as to how to process and manage this stuff.
Too many people jump on things like this without a game plan and end up like the guy you are getting it from and just give up and pass it to the next guy.

Sadly, it's barely worth it. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43048033)

If you go to Weird Stuff Warehouse [] in Silicon Valley, you can get enough cheap previous-generation stuff to build a data center.

  • 1U rackmount servers, $50. Working, just obsolete by a few years.
  • Rack-mount networking gear. Working, just about 1/4 the density of current gear, and 100Mb/s, not gigabit Ethernet.
  • Rockwell 12-channel GPS module, $8.95. Nothing wrong with it, it's just 71mm across, which is huge by mobile standards. Good time standard.

That's all working stuff, not junk. It's kind of depressing. Most of the gear there was valuable only a few years ago.

There's a service in Oakland CA [] which takes discarded desktop systems. They check them out, try some board swaps to get them to work, clean them up, build them up to a minimally usable standard, wipe the hard drives, install Ubuntu Linux, and send them out to schools that need computers. That's about as good as recycling seems to get.

Sometimes you have to find a niche, too.... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43048683)

For example, I used to work for a steel fabrication company, and they had a "web press machine" out on the shop floor. Basically, it was just a big contraption with air compressors powering a punch on a moving arm, over a conveyor belt. Steel beams would roll up to it, and the machine would punch holes in the ends of them where the connector bolts would go when the beams were installed.

The whole system ran an MS-DOS based program on a desktop PC installed in the metal cabinet that served as the "control panel" for the machine. Then, a couple of 16-bit ISA controller boards were installed which interfaced with the machine itself.

The guy who supervised the initial installation and servicing of the web press made good money repairing this obsolete computer hardware, primarily because even a computer-savvy individual at a shop using such a system would probably not have access to older systems with ISA card slots that could run the special controller boards needed for it. Piece of RAM goes bad? Ok ... how many people will be able to run out and grab a replacement 72-pin SIMM of the right speed for one? Failed power supply? You have a spare AT type with the power button physically attached to wires coming off of it, as is needed for the external power switch mounted in the metal control panel cabinet? He even designed the cabinet so it held a full size 15" CRT monitor just right so it had its screen up against a slanted piece of plexiglass on the control box. If you didn't have another similar shape/size of CRT to replace it with - you were in for some interesting jury-rigging to get a modern LCD mounted in its place in there!

So many people wrote the old hardware off as trash, it created enough scarcity for people like this with special purpose devices to use the stuff on purpose, so they can command a premium for the repair parts.

Be careful with medical equipment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048087)ânia_accident

There can be dangerous stuff inside those machines.

Re:Be careful with medical equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048535)

Holy damnit shit. Was there not fucking radiation warning stickers all over that fucker? Blue god damn light? Guy keeps disassembling it?

Laserdisc players? (1)

snarfies (115214) | about a year ago | (#43048101)

If you have, or come across, any laserdisc players, may I strongly suggest Ebay? They aren't made anymore, I've never been able to find anyone who can still repair them, yet I still actively collect anime laserdiscs (, and am not alone. I have 4-5 players, and if I can't find anyone who can do repairs, I wouldn't mind obtaining 4-5 more (once I move to a larger house, that is).

That sounds like my basement (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about a year ago | (#43048105)

I must admit I am somewhat of a techno junk hoarder. However I found so many good things dumpster diving over the year. In addition to PC boards with resistors and caps, I also keep a look out on gear trains, and mechanical parts - laser printers are fun to digest. And of course stepper motors.. Always get stepper motors.. I made an XY table for my CO2 laser using nothing but printer parts. I have parts and circuit boards of devices in my "grave yard" that I look at now, and think - once upon a time this was a $2000 printer, or this was a top of the line monitor - now lay in wait in pieces for my next project.
I Love dumpster diving!

Build a CEC YT-1300 (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43048125)

What a piece of junk!

Take it all, get your 15 minutes of fame (1)

Squeebee (719115) | about a year ago | (#43048197)

Take it all, stack it six feet high in your house, and get yourself on an episode of Hoarders. Don't forget to find a friend or loved one willing to gasp at the sight of your hoard, shake their heads, and emotionally appeal to you to get all that junk out of your house.

Combination of answers, with contingencies (1)

MatrixCubed (583402) | about a year ago | (#43048227)

If there is a place you can donate to a less-fortunate destination (local or overseas school, library, etc) then make this your priority.

Else, if you can sell it in bulk on Kijiji/Craigslist for cheap (think $1 per monitor), then sell it, and donate the money to a good cause. They mightn't benefit from monitors and VCRs, but they can certainly use the money. I suggest in bulk, because you don't want to be supply-chain-managing a bunch of crap, do you?

Else, if you can recycle it, do so. Hoarding a bunch of worthless archaic junk that you can't get rid of will just mean you're hoarding a bunch of worthless archaic junk that you can't get rid of!

Else, build a time machine. :-)

Make a particle accelerator display (3, Interesting)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about a year ago | (#43048259)

Some things you can't do with LCDs; tinker with the electronics until you have an unscanned beam of electrons from the back of the monitor tube making a bright spot on the screen and use a magnet to move it around. Make it safe for kids to touch the display and work the magnet. Set up an after-school event to talk to them about relativity, charge, atomic structure, bremsstrahlung, X-rays, the LHC etc.

I used to mess up TV pictures with a magnet when I was a kid, it was fun to distort the actors on screen, but a lot of kids today may not get that experience. It's not a big thing, but I believe the experiences all add up.

DVD-CD optics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048267)

There are some nice optical parts in DVD/CD players. They're usually glued in, but a little heat applied to the metal sled w/ a soldering iron and a toothpick will pop them loose w/o damage.

But the truth is except for scavenging copper, if you don't know what's in it, it's probably of no use to you. However, you might learn enough taking a few things apart to justify the time spent.

Have Fun!

There's Gold in them there CPU's (4, Informative)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year ago | (#43048393)

Gold is at 1,573.00 an ounce today.

Here's a link to check out cpu prices based on gold content: []

Re:There's Gold in them there CPU's (2)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year ago | (#43048661)

You beat me to the punch. I would contact a gold recovery company. Send all that stuff in and get cold hard cash to buy new useful equipment.

Scanners and printers (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43048395)

Scanners and printers are a good source of hard polished rods and bushings, belts and stepper motors with pulleys. You can build 3D printers and small desktop CNC mills with these parts. Old business-grade hardware usually has better parts too such as thicker rods and stronger motors.

Find a local hackerspace group (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43048425)

I'd highly recommend seeing if you have any local Hackerspaces/Makerspaces in your area (we have some awesome ones going around Texas). There you'll find people who want to "tinker" with old or new technologies, including education (it is a great experience to tear apart an old disk drive to see how it works, for example). Visit the worldwide hackerspace wiki at and look at the world map; or visit some individual hackerspaces and tell them what you've got (Houston has TXRX labs at ). Good luck.

Shooting your own "Hoarders" episode (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about a year ago | (#43048701)

And putting it on YouTube.

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