Parts Harvesting From Broken Electronics

I’ve been sorting out all my electronics related stuff this weekend and came across a few bits of broken kit gathering dust in the corner that I’ve been meaning to harvest for useful parts for ages. I decided that today was the day to do it and armed with a hot iron and a reel of desoldering braid, I set about salvaging components I thought might be useful.

Boiler Control Board

This board was removed from our central heating boiler when it last broke down. The engineer thought it was only a dry solder joint somewhere on the board, but it is his company’s policy to replace parts rather than attempt to repair them.

Central heating boiler relay board

Anyway, it looked to have a good selection of components I might be able to make use of:

  • 2x 45 degree terminal blocks
  • 3x relays
  • Fuse holder
  • Capacitors
  • Microchip MC14541 timer chip

And so they came off…

Omron relays
Shiny orange capacitors

And a before-and-after comparison of the circuit board:

Central heating boiler relay board before parts harvesting
Central heating boiler relay board after parts harvesting


Coming from a cheap small form factor case, this “ATX” PSU turned out to be an inch shorter than every other ATX PSU on the market, making it a real pain to replace. I never worked out what was wrong with it and chose it as my second junk item to harvest parts from.

Broken ATX PSU ready for component harvesting
Broken ATX PSU ready for component harvesting

I had a lot of trouble with large components and solder blobs taking all the heat away from the iron, so in all, the parts hall was somewhat disappointing given all the effort and desoldering braid that went into dismantling it.

Apart from the complete set of cables, I kept the stronger half the case which had the IEC power connector and switch mounted on it. The other half, which didn’t mount the PCB, was so weak that it bent and crumpled like kitchen foil when I opened up the PSU and separated it from the strong half. Here’s the strong half, which might form a nice base for a smart project enclosure some day.

Salvaged ATX PSU case
Salvaged ATX PSU case

As for components, I was most interested in trying to salvage the transistor heatsinks and screws – items which were surprisingly expensive last time I looked for them on Farnell’s website. I also managed to remove the inductors too and left it at that.

Salvaged ATX PSU transistor heatsinks

Salvaged Parts Box

I choose to keep everything that I salvage from broken equipment separate from my collection of new parts. Usually I don’t know why the board/kit failed and don’t want to mix new with potentially broken or damaged parts, so unless the salvage is purely mechanical like the heatsinks and screws, it all gets stored in a separate parts box – in this case the box is one from Really Useful Products.

Salvaged parts box

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