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Salvaging components
The fine art of "dumpster diving"

One of the best things about BEAM robotics is that you can get started without buying any bits at all-- you can just go rooting around for "techno-trash". These are some good sources of salvage:


Small cassette players / recorders

Small CD players

Digital cameras


Solar-powered toys, calculators, lights

Household appliances with electromechanical clocks and timers in them

Personal computers (the CD-ROM and floppy drives are often sources of good motors)


While you're stripping down your treasure, here's what you want to be on the lookout for:

Low-voltage DC motors; geared motors are preferable, some projects can use stepper motors

Small gears

Small springs (useful for a variety of things, chiefly to provide centering force for walker motors)

Commonly-used transistors

Small, low-voltage (16V or lower) capacitors (generally electrolytic)

OTUs, a.k.a. "Oven timer units" (in ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, old clock radios)

Cassette player pinch rollers (these make good, small wheels for photopoppers and solarrollers), and cassette capstans (inside cassette tapes, these make good "non-driven" wheels).


Small switches


As a general rule, I strip any gears, motors, and circuit boards that I can get from any recently-deceased appliances and comsumer electronics. I keep the boards in boxes in my basement, and go hunting for components when I'm starting to think about building a new BEAMbot (this seems to be a more-efficient use of time than pulling every part off the board when I salvage it).

For more information...

Make sure to read the excellent article "Electronics on a Budget."

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Page author: Eric Seale
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