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Dumpster Diving 101

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Reloadron

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This thread is a partial spawn of of the "How to live on $140 a week" thread which can be found right here. However, this thread has nothing to do with living on $140 a week but rather the harvesting of useful electronic components and parts as a result of dumpster diving. Now in the fore mentioned thread there was some reference to the practice of dumpster diving which went like this:

Crosh said:

Learn to "ultimate recycle" by donating used items to places like Goodwill - and shop there too! Look into freecycling. Learn to dumpster dive! You'd be surprised at what people throw away that can be turned into useful stuff and/or resold for profit. Its crazy - its the consumerist trap!
Frosty replied in part with:

-Dumpster diving is for the ultimate poor. I cannot go that route as that is just disgusting to me. As for garage sales, I really have everything I need in terms of daily items. A used BCD for SCUBA diving is perhaps one item I wouldn't mind purchasing from "garage sale".
To which Sceadwian followed up with:

Do you have any idea the wealth of electronics components that can be had for free dumpster diving? I have a few of the neighbor kids on the look out for me, in the last month I've netted the working electronics from a 50 inch projection TV including all three projectors) the screen had been broken and the mirror was scratched (someone had a tantrum) My family and friends also keep an eye out for me for old electronics stuff they're throwing out. Most of the cheaper things I take apart usually net me 10-50 dollars worth of passives and many other nifty bits.
Then colin55 added:

I took apart an old printer recently and gained 3 stepper motors, gearing, micro-switches, photo interrupter and all sorts of quality components for my son. The motors were high quality multi-pole, slow RPM, and extremely efficient.
Parts that would cost a fortune if bought separately in a hobby shop.
Now those few clips leave us open to the art of dumpster diving. I say art as a good successful dumpster diver really needs to know where and how to go about successful diving for really cool treasure based upon "one man's junk is another man's treasure". I am proud to be a dumpster diver both at the workplace as well as anywhere a tree lawn bears good fruit.

How many others here have been seen lurking around a dumpster? :)

What have some managed to collect?

Ron
 

tcmtech

Banned
Most Helpful Member
I have collected too much to be able to account for it all. :eek:

but for me that massive collection of old junk more than pays mt bills and leaves enough left over to be able to help others without hesitation.:)

This week I may have found a fair condition D8 Caterpillar dozer for cheap due to someone having not paid his taxes and now the IRS has taken it and thinks its worth scrap metal.:D
I found out about it though some friends of mine who are doing salvage work hauling out old scrap metal to clean up some old farm yards where they found it parked in the tree rows. ;)
Some how I think I need a D8 dozer now. I think those gophers in my yard met there match!:eek:
 

3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
I am all in favor of dumpster diving.

My wife and I moved from a city to a small town. We were used to dumpster diving her more so then me. When the local females seen my wife dumpster diving they dubbed her "dumpster girl". They are a unkind lot.

It is not like we get our clothes or food out of dumpsters. Mostly things like foam core and cardboard boxes.
 

Dr_Doggy

Well-Known Member
lol, all my early projects were from dumpsters, although its hard to salvage IC's and figure out what they are, but all my buttons, switches, pots, resistors, caps, motors, buses, laser diodes in my parts bin all came from things like old vcrs, microwaves &stereos,

I'v used them to repair my Keyb, built flyback guns, tesla coils, mag-levs,

Its also a great place to find monitors, printers and scanners
 

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Reloadron

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One of my observations is the quality of the free stuff is often the area. My mom lives in a place called Worthington, Ohio which is pretty expensive. My parents bought there in 1966 when it was reasonable and mostly farmland. Today it is home to mostly doctors, lawyers and OSU professionals. These people tend to be anything but frugal in their ways. I mean if they turn on an appliance and for any reason it fails to work they toss it on the tree lawn for trash collection. The place is like a gold mine. I once saw a nice looking fully electric wheel chair on the tree lawn. The guy had just put it there for trash collection. I stopped and asked what was wrong with it and he told me nothing but his mother who lived with them passed away. I suggested he just call the senior center as someone could really use that thing. I had no room in my truck for it or I would have had it!

Anyway, those blessed with abundance just seem to throw away really good stuff. Hell, here in Cleveland in our neighborhood the pickings are not as bountiful.

I had a drinking fountain I dragged home from work on the front porch for years. For years the wife complained about it. Hell, the chiller worked great. It was obvious after years I wasn't going to do anything with it so at her urging (complaining) I put it out on the tree lawn. Ah hour later I was helping a guy load it on his truck. :)

I work for a large corporation and I get great stuff simply because it is replaced with new stuff. Real ***** is they were cleaning out a room to make space and tossed a ton of great stuff I was eying while I was on medical for shoulder surgery. I cried over that. :(

This week I may have found a fair condition D8 Caterpillar dozer for cheap due to someone having not paid his taxes and now the IRS has taken it and thinks its worth scrap metal.
I found out about it though some friends of mine who are doing salvage work hauling out old scrap metal to clean up some old farm yards where they found it parked in the tree rows.
Some how I think I need a D8 dozer now. I think those gophers in my yard met there match!
Now that is a gold mine!!!!!

Ron
 

cr0sh

Member
I think my shop -is the dumpster-...

Seriously, most of the stuff I have for projects I either have bought second-hand (usually from Goodwill, but a lot of good stuff cheap on Ebay and Craigslist), or picked out the trash. I always get computers, monitors and such from the places I have worked. Half the time there is nothing wrong with them, they just "upgrade" and don't need the old stuff (and don't want to pay to have it hauled away). My current place of employment kinda stinks in this department, because their contracts stipulate destruction of any hard drives (as in physical destruction), so I typically don't get those - but I am able to get everything else (currently have a couple of 1U servers - a SuperMicro and a Penguin Computing - they just gave me, sans hard drives). Other places I have no problem getting everything.

I haven't done any "hardcore" diving in a while, but I intend to start up again this winter - I typically hit places where there are a lot of offices; office parks, business and light-industrial parks, where they don't lock the dumpsters. If security rolls by, I tell them I am looking for boxes for moving (and I keep a few boxes in my truck for that). I don't make a mess, and I clean up anything I drop. I respect any no-trespassing signs, if posted. If a security guard tells me to leave, I will. I also avoid extremely large companies (most of them have their bins locked down and under surveillance - places here in the valley like Motorola, Intel, and Honeywell are very, very tight on security of their stuff - impossible to get at, really). Its also fun to roll around areas during "bulk trash pickup" and find stuff; people throw out all kinds of good things.

Actually - this morning, my wife did some "recycling" - a neighbor down the street had their palm-trees trimmed; all of the fronds and "chunks" (don't know what its called - like bark, but lightweight) were in the street for bulk trash, which comes next week for pickup. My wife took my truck down there early in the morning and shovel, and loaded the bed with this stuff. She brought it home, and used it for mulch/ground cover on our flowerbeds. It works pretty good, and should rapidly decompose over time. The larger chunks are spongy/fibrous, and light weight; we're going to use them for kindling in our fireplace this winter (when we can due to no-burn periods in our area). Free mulch and firewood!
 

3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
It is epically neat when you find a place that is moving. When I lived in Colorado we were lucky enough to be there when a cabinet shop was moving. I scored several useful Porter Cable router bases that I did not have. A nice selection of pipe clamps and parts. About 20 lbs of misc drawer slides etc etc.. Better then Christmas.
 

shokjok

Member
Here in Alberta, Canada, we have a commercial that asks us why we keep our old electronics - "What are you waiting for?" is the tag line. I have seen true relics from another time, unsure of their demise. Some commercial establishments use video monitoring and private security due to liability issues. Scavengers were looking for free parts for their electronic toys. I have removed CPUs, clock radios and televisions safely from depots, and respect signs and approaching authorities.
 

cr0sh

Member
Some commercial establishments use video monitoring and private security due to liability issues.
Places like Intel, Motorola, and Honeywell do it to prevent industrial espionage and other trade theft; its pretty crazy when you see it - there you are, doing a midnight run, trying to just get close to the dumpster, and for some reason there are barriers and such everywhere (you can't even get near it without walking up to it). Then you see the cameras pointing down at the dumpster, out away from the dumpster, and some are panning... At that point, you just drive away and forget it.
 

jrz126

Active Member
I work for a large corporation and I get great stuff simply because it is replaced with new stuff. Real ***** is they were cleaning out a room to make space and tossed a ton of great stuff I was eying while I was on medical for shoulder surgery. I cried over that. :(

Ron
Same here Ron.

I was up at the salvage building buying some scrap steel when I noticed a scrap pan (5' x5' x4' tall) full to the brim with electronics. I recognized most of the parts from a junk room that was near the lab. They had cleaned it out to make room for manufacturing. Without telling anyone in the lab. Probably 10 oscopes ranging from the beastly 7000 series up to a 4 channel DSO. Plus tons of other goodies.

The scrap pan was all weighed up and everything so I couldnt get anything from it. Very disappointing.
 

ben7

Member
Same here Ron.

I was up at the salvage building buying some scrap steel when I noticed a scrap pan (5' x5' x4' tall) full to the brim with electronics... Probably 10 oscopes ranging from the beastly 7000 series up to a 4 channel DSO.The scrap pan was all weighed up and everything so I couldnt get anything from it. Very disappointing.
OOOOMMMMGGGG

Sorry you couldn't save those beauties, I've been looking for an oscilloscope for a while, haven't found any but on the internet, they sell for like$500+!!!!!!
 

cr0sh

Member
OOOOMMMMGGGG

Sorry you couldn't save those beauties, I've been looking for an oscilloscope for a while, haven't found any but on the internet, they sell for like$500+!!!!!!
Depending on what you need, what model it is, how well it works...$500.00 may be a steal!

The first thing to determine before buying an oscilloscope is what kind of frequency range you expect to measure, how many channels you need (once you get past 2+Z, prices go up fast), and whether you need digital storage. You don't want to buy more scope than you need, because once you get past about 100 MHz, prices climb fast. Also - when buying used, I would only buy one that you can test out first hand (I know, that makes things a lot more difficult).
 

Reloadron

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Most Helpful Member
Same here Ron.

I was up at the salvage building buying some scrap steel when I noticed a scrap pan (5' x5' x4' tall) full to the brim with electronics. I recognized most of the parts from a junk room that was near the lab. They had cleaned it out to make room for manufacturing. Without telling anyone in the lab. Probably 10 oscopes ranging from the beastly 7000 series up to a 4 channel DSO. Plus tons of other goodies.

The scrap pan was all weighed up and everything so I couldnt get anything from it. Very disappointing.
Same deal almost. There were several old Tek Scopes but there was an old but minty Tek 575 Curve Tracer I really would have liked. Additionally a TM506 power module and a bunch of the old Tek cal package items. I wanted the sig generators really bad. All went in the dumpster while I was gone.

However, all was not lost. I did get a mint set of the old Leeds & Northrup precision resistors like the Thomas One Ohm all with their oil in them. The type used in an oil bath and a few sets of lab precision mercury liquid in glass thermometers. A nice HP counter and a few other things. The only thing my boss is animate about is "Ron, I better not see this **** on E-Bay" :)

Ron
 

bryan1

Well-Known Member
Well the best dumpster diving I do is at work or used to ( I trained the guys to see me before throwing anything away) A few years ago I scored a heap of high voltage/current DC power supplies with a heap of 1600 volt 150 amp IGBT's, 1600 volt 75 amp 3 phase bridge rectifiers, 400 volt caps by the dozen and a heap of other stuff. About 6 months ago 1/2 a dozen VFD's of which 4 work purfect. The wire company in our building is now trained and I am officially the scrap bin, everything from wire to enamel paint to heatshrink slightly damaged to just date expired silicon tubes etc. Last week I got a 5kg spool of 1mm enameled wire because the spool was broken.

Who ever said work was a drag was working in the wrong place........
 

jrz126

Active Member
The old test equipment may not be available, but there is plenty of silicon. I sit next to the power electronics engineer. Its amazing what isn't suitable for production...
IGBTs are 2500V, 1200A rms.
 

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Reloadron

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The old test equipment may not be available, but there is plenty of silicon. I sit next to the power electronics engineer. Its amazing what isn't suitable for production...
IGBTs are 2500V, 1200A rms.
Go figure, we are currently removing two 100 Amp and one 200 amp 480 Volt SCR drives. Big units that have been in service for years and never failed. Funny as I found boxes of the spare SCRs so looking at JRZs pics they came right to mind. Big units at 3 phase so I didn't really jump on them.

Ron
 
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