Scrounging useful components on your
two-wheeled travels. By Thomas J. Arey
My articles for this magazine about scrounging and
repurposing found items are not limited to describing how to dig through trash bins and dumpsters for
I’m an avid bicyclist and, on my training rides, I’ve
discovered that all too many people take the notion
of living in a throwaway society to its worst conclusion. The roadsides are littered with many things.
Photography by Thomas J. Arey
I must remain aware of such effluvia as a matter
of self-preservation when cycling. While keeping my
eyes on the road for things that might pierce my
tires or send me over the handlebars, I am discovering an increasing amount of what I have come to call
On a recent 30-mile loop I found no less than 3
castoff electronic devices that were worth stopping
for: a cellphone, a partial electronic calculator, and
a slightly damaged portable CD player.
Let’s see what a maker can do with these recovered gadgets.
The found cellphone was a discount/convenience
store “pay as you go” model, banged up and inoperable, but intact. Apparently, when the owner ran out
of minutes they just pulled the SIM card and tossed
the unit out the car window. The battery is a nice
compact 3.7-volt 920mAh lithium-ion unit that can
be put to work in many electronics projects.
I also pulled a few other pieces off the phone to
add to my parts piles. The eccentric motor used to
vibrate the phone when it rings has potential, as
does the ultra-mini speaker.
The majority of the phone circuit was proprietary
surface-mount devices with little hope of easy
recovery but I was happy to come up with the free