Scavenged, salvaged, and recycled electronics!

Here’s a new topic thread for talking about building cool things from trash, pulling useful parts from broken electronics, and re-using old tech.

Share your techniques, tips, and tricks, as well as where and how you find the good junk!


II am so in, tgats what I do, and did when I had the car model trees and made Road warrior type cars out of them

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So, the trash pickup rules around where I live (Washington, DC; so DC, Maryland, and Virginia) are kind of weird. You can’t just put big items out on the curb for pickup–everything has to fit in the bin, or else you have to make a special appointment to get it taken away. As you might imagine, this puts a crimp in my scavenging agenda.

It was so much easier when I lived in Florida and people just threw out all kinds of things on the curb. Maybe the only thing I enjoyed about Florida TBH.

Any advice on where to go to find good stuff would be greatly appreciated!


Some of the type of household electrical / electronic products that I’ve salvaged from:

Computer Printers/scanners;

DC motors,
Switching power supplies,
various gears and mechanical parts
Wire and connectors

TVs / monitors;

CRT TYPE: Inductors, HV output transformers, HV components
All types: Switching power supplies, loudspeakers, wire, connectors, switches, IR receivers,
Screws, washers, etc

PCs :

Power supplys, classic CPUs ( may be valuable one day! ) Fans, Disk drives, connectors, wire, screws

Kitchen appliances:

motors, power supplies, transformers, switches, high voltage components ( microwave oven / gas igniters ), relays, pumps, heating elements, knobs, screws and other mechanical parts.

Boomboxes / radios: loudspeakers, transformers, small dc motors, heatsinks

Almost Everything: Wire, lots of wire!


Used to celebrate “Allston Shitty Christmas”, the day all the students move out in Boston, so much stuff on curbs and in dumpsters. Nabbed a rack-mount DX7 (tx81z).


Awesome find, did it work?

Is incredible what people chuck out, I recall hearing about someone salvaging a complete modular system from the 70’s, possibly a Buchla. Just needed a few repairs and a good clean up to get it going.

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Should start checking dumpsters then, i just bought a tx81z 2 weeks ago :sweat_smile:

There was something similar at the Rollins College dorms in Winter Park, FL when all the rich private school kids threw out everything their parents had bought for them for that semester. I miss it.

Here’s my sight on recycling and to note disclamer I don’t have any recycled electronics DIY synth projects. I’m keen to see something posted in this thread taking e-waste where it’s been most damaging to the Earth in consideration and removing whole devices that are project sized from becoming destined for landfills closest being the @irregularshed Apple iPod Touch 5 Kosmo. The landfills are full of smartphones and one time use food containers. A smartphone can be whole converted into an audio processor if the external jacks are converted to the circuitboard. A one time use food container can be whole converted into 3D printer element to build parts to hold the smartphone. I’m sure there’s some other recycling that can be done for panel and circuitboard. That’s enough recycling to me and from that point using new components, wire, jacks and similar things where they’re always in constant supply makes sense. Of course there may be things from sockets like vacuum tubes and integrated circuits that may be recycled. There’s lots of components on the typical cheap sites and would be too handy to refuse. Thanks and I hope you’ll forgive my two cents when I’ve done nothing but contribute text-waste.

-Fumu / Esopus


Hey, so happy someone started this thread up! Thanks @mightywombat!

Does anyone have any bloggers/youtubers they follow that tend to raid junk piles and recycle what they can? The Post Apocalyptic Inventor is something of a personal hero of mine, but I haven’t seen him do anything synth related. What I’d love to see as I’m learning about audio circuits is more akin to what Sam did with that Speak & Spell.

I’ll hopefully be able to contribute something soon. I’ve been working over-time at my day job while also trying to help finish the house I’m sharing with my brother due to some bad financial circumstances, so my free time is super limited. However, I have built up a nice collection of old vacuum tubes and various AA5-style radio parts, as well as a lot of old computer components. I try to rescue any old tech I can (with a focus on old AM radios and computers) and it would be super cool to get to a point in my skills where I can include some of those old parts in some synthy projects.

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Old wine box, salvaged 1N4007 diodes from CFL lamps, heatsinks and fuse from old PSUs, standoffs from the back of the keys of a broken computer keyboard, LEDs and cables from who knows where… and, of course, two perfectly working wallwarts from my ever growing stash.


Eurorack case from old miniature drawers (from a broken old desktop mirror)
Sides from thrown away hardwood floor pieces and PSU (+12, -12 from buck converter but with 7812, 7912 7805 as “safety” regulators before output as low inputs could give crazy high outputs from the buck converter (+64 V).

Electronics from various, fleamarket finds etc. Cables from old computers (hard drive connecting cables).


Yes, and you can easily make good Eurorack panels from Wooden Venetian Blinds…

eurorack panel

(example, but we found ours in a dumpster)

Noisebox from old water pump regulator + piezo microphone from broken radio (tweeter-into-microphone), springs from ballpoint pens, ballbearing from old suitcase etc…

Here’s a link to piezo mike building:


Harvested some fun springy buttons and a few tiny 100k pots from an old portable Ericson tv. Figured that heat sink might come in handy too.

Now to find a project for them…

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It’s easy for the heat sink… plug it in the planet…

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Looks like the heat sink came with a voltage regulator or MOSFET attached!

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He’s a great guy, I need to catch up on watching his more recent videos as havent checked in on him for awhile. Thanx for reminding me. :smiley:

Just a quick modification to a computer speaker that has seen better days (was even missing the left speaker). Works great for a quick test when I don’t want to risk plugging things into proper equipment.


Nice! I found a pair of powered computer speakers at Goodwill for $3 that I’ve been using. I see them all the time at work, too, going into the tech recycling. Part of me always thinks, “What a waste! I should…” and then the other part says, “You already have computer speakers connected to your computer, AND a pair for the synth. You don’t NEED more tech trash, even if it is free!” That part usually wins, though those speakers I found are still and my desk and haven’t made it into the tech trash yet… :slight_smile:

As a hoarder with a garage that isnt used for a car, Id find it challenging to say no to any
̶t̶r̶e̶a̶s̶u̶r̶e̶ unnecessary junk. :grinning:

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Andy Guhl has hacked electronics to make noises that don’t fit in its intended purpose. He’s collaborated on improvisational performance on the electronics since the 1980’s. There’s archives and how-to’s on this site

which seem to make at least a bit of sense even if the notes in German are a challenge for me. He’s made a lot of modifications to electronics sensitive to visible light and infrared light transformed into sound. There’s a lot of picking up radio broadcasts for use in the improvisational performance as well.

I’m giving this more attention than Kosmo at the moment. Pardon my enthusiasm.

-Fumu / Esopus

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