Let's Make Robots!

Salvaging Parts

Hi all, 

I'm new here and wanted to know What would be good appliances or computer parts to salvage robot related parts? (motors, gears, electronics)

I saw someone take the HDD's motor, but it seems the use of it is a bit complicated, and I'm a complete noob.
Are all the motors in HDD's like the one he used or does it vary?
Thanks in advance,

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Disk drives have about the best bits for salvage.

Inside you will find:-

Normal motors

Stepper motors


Sliding draw Mechs.

Photo limit switches

Leds, votage regulators

Connectors - jumpers

The IDE connecting cable also has its uses.

Yea, listen about the tv warning, the yolk that powers the crt can literally knock you out, one of my teachers had it happen to him during class

If you have any old computer modems, they have relays, op amps, etc.

Just about every old computer used to come with a modem board.

If you have the stones Old gameboys (SP) have lots of fun parts to dismantle,

Tactile switches, 32bit SAM7 chippydoodads (that is the professional term right?) a nice semi universal casette socket to fit your innumerable amount of memory sticks/chips, connectors and a nice backlit screen.

Following all the standard warnings and fearsome remarks on safety there is no better place to look for DC motor control parts

than motherboards and powersupplies, I have yet to examine (warranty void/break/burn/and or killing myself in the process)

any computer screens but I assume that the same goes for them as they have to handle a lot of juice while at the same time handling that teeny little LED that is in most cases present.

(Just dont fiddle with anything right after testing if they still work, let the capacitors rest for a while.)

Edit: Lest I forget, While your at the flea market/garage sale/second hand store/what have you, pick up a few power tools (those grimy cordless ones with banged up shells) excellent source for both motors and low gate mosfets.


Well as an example of a parts bot, I'm currently building a bot using the case from a keyocera phone charger and motors from a couple of old electric tooth brushes.

You'll probably notice that a lot of people salvage bits from old broken toys too - if you have such a thing wherever you are, you can go to junkyard sales (we call the "garage sales" - not to sell the garage, but to set up a temporary shop IN the garage). Keep an eye out in cheap toy shops for cheap toys that you could hack, and attach your own uC.
Old mobile phones have things like a recharchable battery, and really small (ungeared) motors.

If you can locate any old/broken robots from WowWee, they are a great source of stuff. Most all of them use motors like the GM* ones from Solarbotics. The RoboSapien V1 is getting more and more likely to be found at thrift shops, craigslist, etc... for a few bucks sometimes, and has something like 7 good motors.

It's not just the high voltages in TVs and CRTs, there just aren't that many parts for hobby robotics in them. Now if you're looking to build high voltage toys (tesla coils FTW) a TV can be fun.

I just dismembered a dead printer-scanner last night. Two matching motors, one stepper, various gearing/belts/pulleys, one hi-res optical encoder wheel and sensor (instead of a stepper, interesting-ish), all sorts of tidbits I have to desolder. Good stuff.

Thanks for the replies I guess the method is basically take anything apart and take the shiny parts ;)

Is there a Salvager's guide somewhere? I think I saw somthing like that.

Oh and I know how to discharge capacitors so I'm ok with these things.

I have a T.V thats not working what can be taken from there? (the old kind but not those that are made of wood on the outside) 

Don't take the TV apart, you won't know what you are doing and will get shocked. they can have up to 25kV and up to 30ma, enough to stun and cause nerve damage.

Yes TVs are hazardous. Keep Clear

Tv remotes have IR (Infra red) goodies inside.

(if you know what you are doing radios,hifi,dvd-players or anything else that receives IR will have a IR decoder chip - which can receive and translate serial IR codes - super for sending remote control codes to your robot)