Creative reuse of components from end-of-life products at our events

I’m attending Nø School Nevers today through Wednesday, and I’m going to tell these artists, activists and hackers about what we do and about what can be learned from the repair movement.

One of the things I’m interested is from learning from our end-of-life products at events. I know that there are drives, fans, memory, stepper motors and many other salvageable and valuable components in these. But it would be cool to create a salvage/reuse guide — per product category — for use by participants and other who might want to “glean” at events.

Here is data on 2,200+ end-of-life devices in our database.

End of life devices by category.csv (258.5 KB)

Top 10 categories by frequency (all over 100+ examples)

  1. Small kitchen item
  2. Misc (many irons here)
  3. Laptop medium
  4. Mobiles
  5. Hifi separates
  6. Portable radio
  7. Hair and beauty
  8. Handheld entertainment device
  9. Power tool
  10. Printer/scanner

I’d love your help identifying the top components for reuse from these.

Tell us your own favourite stories of reuse of end-of-life equipment! And if you’d like to help with this reuse guide, please :heart: the post or @ me.


Being your typical techie squirrel, I tend to keep lots of old PCBs and components like fans and PSUs in my store room “just in case they’re useful”. Aside from cards inside old PCs that can often go into other machines, the most common components I’ve reused over the years have probably been:

  • Power supplies, especially wall warts
  • Fans
  • Capacitors
  • Connectors

I once also had an artist ask for a load of old boards for an installation they were making!

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Great example of reuse from @hkoundi - trying to tempt her on here to share more.

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Thanks @Janet, I did not notice this thread here about reuse - upcycle…

With a friend we were building a spinning thingy out of salvaged stuff and whilst doing so and getting things from the streets we salvaged motors (amongst other things) from hoover, but also old pc tour CD/DVD drives…
The motor I used here is one of those that I had kept, I was looking for a fan in freecycle on Tuesday because I did not want to buy one for a two day summer heatwave :smiley: … anyway then it occurred to me I could just try and build one for fun…

I used the motor, it was like 11pm, so i went for no soldering little effort solution!
Some electric tape,
Adhesive dots,
the box is a make up box :smiley: ,
Then the blades are 10cm long cardboard,
Power supply is from broken Christmas lights: 3 1.5V AA batteries


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Next step is to move to rechargeable battery.

Here is a pic of the spinning thingy:

Motor is from hoover we found by the bin in my friends council housing bins
Length is from baby bed thrown on pavement…

But we added many components like Adafruit board and led strip… And bought a power supply.