Mining old electronics

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Mining old electronics

Postby Watson on May 10th, 2015, 2:30 pm 

Like most people I have a collection of old electronics. The other day I got an old laptop, and took it a part, followed by my PC from the late 80's, and a more recent keyboard. Other than the obvious copper, aluminum and scrap metals that can go to the local scrap dealer, I'm not sure what to do next.
I have several circuit board loaded with ?things? There was also a very strong magnet from the DVD reader. Any ideas on extracting and separating this further.
Does anyone have some experience with this?
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby zetreque on May 10th, 2015, 2:42 pm 

I have spent a lot of time in the past sitting around pulling out the gold pins from circuit boards while watching TV. I have one of those old black film canisters over halfway full of scrap gold from computer boards.

I have magnets all over the walls of my room holding up posters. I had to get one of those special mini torx bit screw drivers to take apart old hard drives, and got pretty good at it, I can do it fast now. The last place I worked got rid of about 100 hard drives that I was in charge of destroying.

I found that the aluminum wasn't worth the salvage value unfortunately. I am still in search of an idea to use the hard drive platters. I have another post on this forum about that. I was about to get rid of them all, but then something else came up and I was distracted.
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=27443

I am using the bearing assemblies out of the hard drives for a couple inventions and fun toys I am in the process of making. Some hard drive bearing assemblies give a good way to fasten metal pieces to a bearing to make spinning or motorized things. It's all just a lot of work for a hobby though. hehe

I have been hearing a lot about how Africa is our dumping ground for old phones and computers. The rich countries make computer landfills in the poor countries, not surprising. That might be where your circuit board scraps end up if you don't just toss them. I know our local dump has certain days of the month where they take old computer stuff.

Oh and I once ground down one of those hard drive piece of aluminum with a file while watching tv for several hours until it I made it into a nice ring to wear on my hand with the intention of giving it to a girl, but she dissapeared on me so I still have it. lol
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby zetreque on May 10th, 2015, 3:39 pm 

Just took these.

Minus the weight of the canisters, I measured 83 grams of scrap computer gold here. You can bet it took me a long time to extract this. lol
Does anyone feel like estimating how much that is worth? (I know it's not pure and some are just gold plated) I am too lazy at the moment.

The right film canister is filled with pins that are shown in the closeup of picture #3. (my camera doesn't do macro very well) I don't remember what part of the computer they came from

The left canister has pins that are at the ends of PCI and ISA cards and other places like the circuit boards of hard drives.

The older the computer, the more gold content.

gold0.jpg

gold1.jpg

gold2.jpg
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby Watson on May 10th, 2015, 4:18 pm 

Do they pull out? Mine look like I cut or break them off. The pins in the data cable connector look like they might be silver.
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby zetreque on May 10th, 2015, 4:22 pm 

I found that they vary widely. Some pull out easy, and some are so embedded into the board that I ended up just clipping them off with cutters to save time.

I think I learned that I could take some pliers and snap the circuit board just right so that they basically just fell out. I used needle nose pliers a lot. Grabbing onto it with pliers, the board is most likely to snap/break along the line of pins since it's the weakest there.

I always thought it would be fun to make or find a kiln to melt it down. Then I could make my own wedding ring someday that would have kinda more meaning behind it. but I'm just dreaming there.
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby Braininvat on May 10th, 2015, 4:34 pm 

Gold is about $1180 per ounce right now. So if, say, 1/3 of your 86 grams is gold, then you have roughly an ounce.

I've heard they burn old electronics in China, to melt out the valuable metal content. Scavengers are exposed to very toxic vapors from this crude method. Old tvs are the worst because they contain so much lead.

Liking the idea of making a ring with metal that once carried your data back and forth. But, yeah, I'm sure goldsmith equipment is quite expensive.
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby zetreque on May 10th, 2015, 6:29 pm 

If indeed I have an ounce of gold, I'd say it was worth it to spend those hours extracting that gold. Multitasking watching your favorite TV shows even. It's true about the toxins. I tried not to breath the circuit board dust or get too much into it when I did it. Computers advance so fast now that it's not as easy to find the old computer parts though. All that "gold" pictured came out of computers I collected and pulled apart about 10 years ago.
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby Watson on May 14th, 2015, 2:35 pm 

I went to the p-metal recycling office and found the pins I was excited about were in fact gold, but it was more part nickel, bit of copper I think and 18% gold. I'm not sure how I can extract the gold. It is already more work than it's worth so far. Even the pure copper wasn't worth much in the amount I have.
I didn't have the torx screw driver so I just drill the top of the screw off. I found the 2 discs inside. Seems like glass discs plated with silver, and they seem to be tarnishing.
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Re: Mining old electronics

Postby Watson on May 15th, 2015, 3:22 pm 

I was looking up the melting points, and silver is about 900 F, which I think I can get in my burning barrel. The Gold and copper are about the same at 1945 and 1981 F, respectively.
I wonder if a clay garden pot would work as a crucible. I suppose I could form one out of concrete as a base and form a fire pit around it. I'll try something with the silver and see kind of heat I can get. I think the various pizza oven I seen get up to about 900, so to get double that I think would need a bellows setup.
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