Let's Make Robots!

Figuring out what to salvage

So I've got several computer parts lying around and while I was replacing a button in one of my mouses with one from another mouse that was broken I was thinking to myself what could I salvage to be used again?

So how do I know what parts are goodies to salvage and what I should throw in the recycling bin for computers(once I find where to recycle computer parts).

When I get back from picking up some stuff from a local shop I'll be going back at the old mouse to remove it's LED that it has to light up the scroll wheel, not sure if while I'm at it should desolder the little black circuit thingies(yes I really don't know their name lol I wanna may microcontroller but feel that's incorrect)

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dolabra's picture

if you are taking apart a mouse,  I would thinkg about using the opitical motion sensor.  there are some neat things that you can do with them.   here is a good tutorial  http://www.martijnthe.nl/2009/07/interfacing-an-optical-mouse-sensor-to-your-arduino/  

rik's picture

After tking apart my scrap electronic, I tend to store bare circuit boards with all the components on them.

Desoldering is a b*tch. I only take off the part that I really need, when I need them. Taking PCBs out of their shells is a good space saver though. And gives you a chance to discover what's inside. Some of my old electronics have notes stuck to them, inventory of the component I found inside.

I have found that the easiest way to desolder components, especially SMT chips, is with a regular blowtorch, like the ones used for plumbing. I've cleaned off several boards this way, even SMT chips with 200+ pins. You just have to be careful not to overheat components. I dunk the board in a bucked of water every couple minutes, just to cool it off. It might not be the best way to desolder pieces, but I've found its really the cheapest.

Salvage's picture

I use a heat gun and once the solder melts, a sharp rap on the garage floor causes the parts to just fall off the board. Once they cool, I swish them around in a jar of "Flux-Off" to clean up the connections. They come out looking brand new and I have never had a problem with the parts that are removed this way.

I use a pair of tweezers to remove parts but your method sounds a whole lot faster :). I do agree with you on the "looking brand new" part, especially if it heats up real fast.

Aside from this laptop adapter input I've got I've had very little trouble desoldering so while I'm working on some stuff later I'll just desolder what ever I can to pass time :)

TeleFox's picture

I can afford to desolder lots of components - hot air rework stations make light of dismantling a PCB =)
Unfortunately testing the parts is still very time consuming... but on the other hand it can be a real pain to debug a circuit made with potentially dodgy parts...

TeleFox's picture

Easily identifiable components are usually the best to start with. Buttons, LEDs, transistors, inductors, capacitors (stay away from HV power supply caps until they have been safely discharged!)... these are common and potentially useful parts.

You might find a few other useful ICs and things, such as optical switches, sockets, optocouplers, etc, but many ICs will be purpose-built for tasks that you're not interested in... as a rule if you can't find the datasheet for a part then it's not going to be of much use.

I've taken the LED that was there out, don't feel like tinkering with the capacitors because they don't have much leg room for resolding later. If I were taking out say a microcontroller that was on a mouse(one I got lying around has two) how might I go about tryng to locate the datasheet for it?

TeleFox's picture

The IC's (Integrated Circuits, aka 'chips') in the mouse are almost certainly not microcontrollers... there's the optics IC, which can be useful, and there's probably a USB or wireless driver IC, which might not be so great.
If you can get an ID marking off the IC then you can look it up online. I usually try octopart first, but there are many electronics part search engines out there that have datasheets too.