Toy Keyboard Salvage

Scrap Keyboards
So I’ve been tinkering away in my workshop on a very cool new project I think you’ll enjoy, it is still a work in progress but I should have it finished up and online next week for you guys to check out. In the meantime though I wanted to share some keyboard salvage pictures I took while tearing apart some toy keyboards I had kicking around my shop.

As someone who compulsively buys cheap used electronics from thrift stores every so often I find the random chunks of plastic lying around my shop are starting to pile up and get in my way. When this happens my destructive tendencies get a chance to come out and play. I can spend some time reducing these large monstrosities to their small and easy to store component parts.

Further I know if you’re anything like me you want to see what’s inside every toy you encounter. I’m very much of the mind that the more photos of toys and devices opened up with their innards exposed there are out in the world the easier it will be for us as circuit benders to judge toys at thrift stores or garage sales without the weird looks you get when you start taking things apart in public. Today I have three keyboards I’m going to pull apart and let you have a look at.
Simba Super Concert

The first is a “Simba Super Concert Keyboard”  which works relatively well but I have had very little luck bending. The buttons on the face seem to have been poorly constructed and many are not working very well. When I trigger these buttons directly from the board the sounds are still there so it seems this is just a mechanical issue with the keys. This is reassuring as there are a number of interesting sound samples on the board (animal sounds and different instruments) which I may incorporate into a future build.

From the board you can see there is very little going on, the small vertical board holds a black blob IC and a pitch resistor but little else. The reverse of this board simply contains a large button matrix.

Chinese Keyboard
Next up is a cheap toy keyboard from China I picked up at a discount store. There is no brand printed on it but it appears to be made by Jinjiang Shengel Toys ltd. I have to admit I did not have high hopes for this one, it sounded foul and felt worse. The plastic was extremely lightweight and poorly constructed. My favorite feature was the USB port on the right side of this photo, which is to say the rectangular hole in the body labelled USB with no port or supporting electronics to be found.

20170116_191044_HDR
I did have one pleasant surprise when I opened this keyboard up though. It’s probably a bit hard to make from this photo but this is a fully functioning LM386 amplifier which was used in the keyboard. I was  pleased to find an LM386 as it is a chip I am fairly familiar with and one I have worked with in the past. With some simple modifications I should be able to add gain and a volume control to this amplifier and re-use it in a future project.

20170116_175907_HDR
Last up for this keyboard salvage session was a Kawasaki Pro-37 keyboard. Unfortunately this keyboard was in pretty rough shape. It was given to me used and the sound circuit had been essentially destroyed from battery corrosion. I didn’t get a picture of the inside for this reason but it was not a pretty sight. That being said I was still able to salvage some useful hardware from the toy.

Spoils
20170116_190233_HDR

So at the end of the day I walked away from these three keyboards with several large button matrices, Some small sound generating circuits, an LM386 amplifier, a few speakers (of varying quality), several battery compartments (cut out from the keyboard bodies), several sets of keys, a small pile of switches and buttons and most importantly some space on my shelf. Hope you guys enjoyed these keyboard salvage pictures. I should be back next week with an exciting new build.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • Pinterest

Salvaging Parts – Sears Clock Radio

sears clock radio - LXIEver since I started working with electronics it seems like I have a never ending flow of random electronics appearing in my workshop. Abandoned stereos and radios, Retro toys, Clocks, Printers, you name it. But what to do with all these broken down wrecks? In some cases if the devices are still in some kind of working order they can be hacked, repaired or circuit bent into usable order (either for their original purpose or some new one) but in the case of a device which is broken beyond usefulness such as this LXI series Sears brand clock radio I turn to salvage.

There are a host of excellent reasons for salvaging parts from old broken electronics. It is an excellent way to fill out your parts library and can often provide you with unique or interesting components you would not normally buy (or even be able to find in some cases). Also it can really help clear out rubble both in your work space and in local landfills. Instead of a shelf full of old stereos you could break them down, remove the casings and reduce them to a box or two of components. Further taking apart a device piece by piece can give you untold insights into how it was manufactured and how it works, you can learn vast amounts and sometimes interesting new tricks.

What to Salvage

Similar to choosing a circuit bending victim the ideal candidates for salvage are made before the year 2000 as generally items made after this point are almost entirely made up of surface mount components. Generally speaking the older the device the better, just make sure you aren’t ripping apart a valuable antique. As far as what types of devices to cannibalize, It really depends on the type of work you are doing. Since most of my projects work with sound synthesis and amplification I typically go after audio equipment like old stereo systems, radios, mixers, amplifiers, guitar pedals and so on. If you have a different focus though other items may be more useful tho. For instance if you are interested in robotics printers have an excellent array of motors and gearboxes ripe for the picking. The more you open things up the better a sense you will get for which devices are going to be rewarding for you and which are best left alone, as with most things the best way to learn is to start opening things up.

Lets Get Started

Make sure before you start tearing anything apart make sure the device is unplugged and all batteries are removed

LXI Sears Clock Radio - Case Removed

Removing the case from a device for the first time is like unwrapping a present, I usually spend some time after doing so to look over the device and see what parts I’m most interested in, already I can see there’s a good sized speaker on the left side, a couple interesting potentiometers and switches, and a host of trim pots, resistors, diodes, transistors and caps. There are also a few stranger radio parts connected to the tuner which have peaked my curiosity.

LXI Sears Clock Radio - Speaker and transformerBefore I get to deep I remove any parts which hang from the board such as the speaker, transformer and any battery clips to free the circuitry entirely from the casing. I discard the casing and begin removing any other mechanical or supplementary parts.

LXI Sears Clock Radio - Cassette Deck and TunerPictured above are the mechanical parts from the tape deck and tuner, I was able to get some good gears and a working motor from the tape deck. I’ve left the pulley system from the tuner intact as I feel I may be able to re purpose it down the road as a fine tuning knob for a potentiometer.

LXI Sears Clock Radio - BoardOnce you’ve got the main circuit board by itself you can begin de-soldering components using a soldering gun and a solder sucker or wick. Typically at this point I will add the circuit board to my “Board Bin” and remove the components as I need them but if you prefer or if there are specific components you are most interested in you can take them off immediately. Remember to test all components before using them elsewhere as sometimes certain parts will breakdown over time or through abuse the device may have taken in it’s lifetime.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • Pinterest