Too Good To Throw Away: Dealing With An Out-Of-Control Junk Hoard

There it was, after twenty minutes of turning the place over, looking through assorted storage boxes. A Thinwire Ethernet network. About the smallest possible Thinwire Ethernet network as it happens, a crimped BNC lead about 100mm long and capped at each end by a T-piece and a 50 ohm terminator. I’d been looking for a BNC T-piece on which to hook up another terminator to a piece of test equipment, and I’d found two of them.

As I hooked up the test I wanted to run I found myself considering the absurdity of the situation. I last worked somewhere with a Thinwire network in the mid 1990s, and fortunately I am likely to never see another one in my life. If you’ve never encountered Thinwire, be thankful. A single piece of co-ax connecting all computers on the network, on which the tiniest fault causes all to fail.

So why had I held on to all the parts to make one, albeit the smallest possible variant? Some kind of memento, to remind me of the Good Old Days of running round an office with a cable tester perhaps? Or was I just returning to my past as a hoarder, like a Tolkienic dragon perched atop a mountain of electronic junk, and not the good kind of junk?

My Guilty Secret

Does this sight look familiar to you?
Does this sight look familiar to you?

What follows will probably be a familiar tale to many readers, one of a huge collection of boxes  bursting with Stuff That Might Be Useful Someday, or even Stuff That’s Just Too Good To Throw Away. It’s possible that there will be readers for whom this is not a problem, but I suspect I will not be alone in wrestling with it from time to time, so it’s worth examination. Why do we do it, and what strategies can be taken to mitigate it?

A few decades ago, ordering electronic components was a fairly slow and expensive process. There were a limited number of mail-order companies with large paper catalogues, and your order had to go through two postal delays as it made its way to the supplier and then as its parts made their way to you. This is written from a small country, I can only imagine the extra delays when an order had to traverse a continent.

So back then there was something of a culture of hoarding electronic junk. Particularly if you were an impecunious teen. There was no online next-day-delivery, and even if there had been you probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it. People hung on to pieces of dead electronics as sources of parts and to swap for other parts. They probably also snagged more than a few pieces of functional kit along the way, after all if it works it’s Too Good To Throw Away, isn’t it?

The Path To Junk Salvation

If your course followed mine, you’ll know where this is going. After a few years of electronic endeavours I had a hoard approaching mini-dragonesque proportions even if not the full Tolkien. I had the space for it, but even I could tell it had gotten a little out of hand. Something had to be done.

It’s important to understand that to successfully deal with something of this nature the person involved will have to themselves recognize that it has become a problem. There will be no shortage of people taking it upon themselves to tell them, but this is not constructive as here the solution has to come from within. It is a daunting prospect to deal with a mountain of junk, and adding stress or pressure does not reduce that.

The way I chose to do it when I went through the process a few years ago was to adopt a rigorous strategy of evaluation for each item, with a set of criteria to apply to it and decide its fate. I looked at value, usefulness, and how long it had been since I had used or even seen the item, and used what I found to inform my decisions.

To The Bin With (Most Of) It!

If we're ever thrown back into the 1970s I'll be rich, I tell you!
If we’re ever thrown back into the 1970s I’ll be rich, I tell you!

Value is pretty easy. Is it worth much? If it’s a broken timebase panel from a 1970s Philips TV, then probably not. To the bin with it! More difficult was intangible value, did it remind me of something? A non-functional prototype amplifier board from my days in student radio for example. I made that, remembered the good times in a cramped studio. But was it going to feature in my life again? Let’s face it, no. In the bin.

Surprisingly difficult were hoards of old components. Miscellaneous chips with 1970s and 1980s date codes stuffed into biscuit tins. I never expected to have qualms about those, and consulted Google on obscure part numbers just to see what it was I’d got. In the end I hung on to a few choice examples for old time’s sale stuck on a piece of conductive foam. I’ll never need a couple of 68000s or a brace of Z80s with support chips, but at least they take up very little space.

Usefulness was yet again straightforward. Tools, hang on to them. Motors, though, a different matter. You know how it is, you rip something apart and end up with some motors, which you put on one side because they’re Too Good To Throw Away. I started putting any motors I found into a plastic tub, thinking I’d collect them together and some day they’d be useful. I wish I’d taken a picture now, because I could show you a tub overflowing with more motors than I could possibly use in a lifetime. I adopted another rule, to only hang on to a few of anything I had a huge number of, and put the rest on my, by now, burgeoning metal scrap pile.

It’s Past Time to Part Ways

Finally, I applied a time limit to everything else that hadn’t already made the cut. If I hadn’t done anything with it in a decade and it wasn’t intrinsically or sentimentally valuable, it went. I was amazed at the things I had no idea I still owned, stuff that had been carefully packed into boxes. For example, where on earth did I get a pile of Exabyte data backup tapes, and why was I holding on to a pile of useless and outdated VESA local bus graphics cards?

At the end of it all, after I had carted the piles of scrap, rubbish, and recycling to their respective destinations, I was left with a small selection of plastic tubs. Mains cables and extensions, data, signal, and network cables, electronic components, and tools. One set of shelves takes the lot, so I can put all the other non-electronic detritus of 21st century life on the rest of my shelves. Several years later I am now very wary of taking on any more junk, and if I don’t have an immediate need for whatever it is then it doesn’t come home with me. I buy components online as I need them, so I have little need to hold on to a stock. This is not to say I’m entirely cured, I find I now have more than one sewing machine and somehow a pile of ATX power supplies has become part of my life, but at least I can see the danger before it happens.

You’ll have your own tales of battles with the tide of junk, I’m sure. It seems each of the Hackaday writers does. Tell us your horror stories in the comments, and tell us how you dealt with it. If you’re wondering why I still have that Thinwire network, I have no idea. Perhaps it has a life of its own and wormed its way in unseen while I was evicting its brethren.

193 thoughts on “Too Good To Throw Away: Dealing With An Out-Of-Control Junk Hoard

  1. Very familiar as I deal with moving house…
    Hey Hackaday writers, it would be really interesting to see a set of photos for your workbenches, test gear and ongoing projects together with a bit of commentary – a workshop ‘show and tell’. (If it’s been done before, I must have missed it, and with a bunch of new writers perhaps a refresh would be worthwhile anyway?)

    1. I am going through the same experience. We have moved and downsized our home since we became “empty nesters”. My goal was to sort my junk boxes before moving. I did to a degree, but somehow still ended up in the epic fail category. My workshop is now significantly smaller, but smaller is relative since my old workshop was an entire basement in my first home. Now I have three workbenches surrounding a picnic table, so don’t feel sorry for me (a classic “first world problem”). Going nuts a few year back buying “for parts or repair” projects on eBay didn’t help.

      My problem is every part I hold becomes something that I will always treasure. I prefer to give stuff away (with a solemn promise that they will love and cherish the parts as much as i did).

        1. Looks like my dads garage and basement and office.

          Last year he retired and they planned on selling the house. Obviously there was no way he was going to part ways with any of it. The left for florida for a month and I flew cross country, rented 2x 40 yard dumpsters and filled them to the brim. It killed me ro recycle tons of old computers and radio gear but it needed to get done. I left him a huge bin of new in the box vacuum tubes he collected and heathkits he never got around to building.
          They came home and almost didn’t notice the difference.
          After learning a valuable lesson from this I now go to the local ham swap meet once a year and just give away a car load of things that have built up. Makes a the few teenagers that are there very happy.

          1. No just two distinct random osint jpeg intercepts from two square john’s blogs… thought it would be entertaining for my HaD friends… I got a kick out of it as one is my ultimate dream state and the other is my phuqing adhd reality. guess which one…

    2. Hmmm, nice idea eccentricelectron – also interested in the psychology of workplaces especially
      re inspiring; focus, discipline & commitment whilst being open to balance of diversity re projects.

      I’ve had many workplaces over the years mostly at my primary residence, so easily end up getting
      seriously cluttered as I’m interested in many extensions of my primary profession & how it intersects
      with secondary profession, ie from electronics/mechanics to food science/microbiology,
      don’t want to flood with odd looking places & part proof of concept projects (one for here soon),
      so for time being as I’m pressed for time here’s my primary office for light electronics, few scattered
      bits mainly keep up to date with key essentials in my career which means making $ (day trading)
      reading a lot, experimenting & qualifying preliminary electronic designs, monitors are:-

      Left: Monitor, my most volatile 5 ASX stocks running off:-
      Centre: Dell Inspiron 1545 -15″ 720p office/emails & cad progs especially PCB, code analysis
      Right: Acer Aspire 8920G – 18″ 1080p doubles for trading if from bed
      since i also dabble on stocks at other times & don’t want to get up so trade then sleep
      though primarily for documentaries incl DTB-T, tech papers & AI test code – scripts to scan
      forums interpreting users & nicknames patterns re claims vs truth – nuff said about that ;-)
      Yes I know all old tech (incl pair of 1631A/D & others) except Hantek USB-DSO but, repaired
      them all & sufficient for needs but, getting big laptop upgrade few days for more serious travel…

      Embarrassing compared to that other pic – thanks sonofthunderboanerges as I know
      full well what you mean (my chem lab rather different), suffice to say my best defense
      might be that I have hugely cluttered workplaces (1 of 5) forcing my mind to be more
      disciplined to handle it so I’m never bored with an unusual sense of stress switching often
      between functions/screens !

      Odd idea occurred to me few years ago, my old first website address differs from my gateway email
      vector by only One ascii char, so far I’ve not noticed anyone with the same scenario, though
      haven’t looked much, offers simple business cards & other options – anyone else with that ?

      1. “Odd idea occurred to me few years ago, my old first website address differs from my gateway email
        vector by only One ascii char, so far I’ve not noticed anyone with the same scenario, though
        haven’t looked much, offers simple business cards & other options – anyone else with that ?”

        Try and procure a very small domain name from like from GO DADDY or something. Don’t care about the extension, it could be anything and still work (i.e. .tv, .do, .co etc.). Religiously pay that domain fee on time every year or loose it to domain thieves. Then use your web host provider’s email services. There you can create email redirects of any length or theme surrounding your tiny domain name. I got lucky and snagged a 4 character domain name with my initials in it. I just had to figure out how to theme the last 2 digits into something interesting or pithy. Like MM99 . com (not mine – just an example). Then you could make email redirects like hacker @ or 1 @ or mike @ etc. Why 99? Let’s say that was your DOB, anniversary, the year of your favorite Dodge Challenger…

    3. Decades ago I bought the book “Clutters Last Stand” by The Millionaire Janitor Don Aslett.
      Through it I realized so much of my clutter is emotional baggage…
      “This will be needed someday”
      “I’ll get around to fixing this”
      “I am so proud of this acquisition!”
      “When the Zombie Apocalypse (TM) comes, I’ll be ready!”
      I still struggle with clutter, but now I know why!

      1. He got the same book!

        Did get good smile reading it and realized how I was not alone in this circle of fixing, recycling thing!
        I try to get to survive by applying the habit of going through once a year a reality check up …Was this junk not touch or use in 3 years? Then give it to another squirrel… I had for many years suffered from missing test equipment that I would say they would be the hardest thing to let go…I always end up with a spare of…Yep my mind sees a nice clean place like the dream bench up the thread but this last for about a day 4 times a year..Then run again multiple repairs and here goes the good will…It looks good but also triggers a bad feeling of way too clean ;0)p

        Almost look like a show room..You know where no body work but actually think that look really nice lol!
        Like a show house, where no kid lives or animal, no dust , everything shine!

    1. Do your children a galactic favor and deal with it soon.

      Source: Just spent the entire summer going through my late mother’s stuff…and her parents’ stuff that she’d never dealt with either. Thousands of documents, mementos, trinkets, treasures and everything else from ~1900 to present, all mixed together and piled in near-hoarder fashion. 0/10 – wouldn’t do again.

      1. I’m going through that right now–3 years after my grandmother died. Grandpa refuses to give things up because “it might be important!” or “it’s still good. I don’t want them (insert bigoted epithet of choice, usually regarding Mexicans) takin’ it and tryin’ to sell it!” My favorite is “I might need it someday”–seriously, how many 5-gallon buckets of old, rusty tools with the accompanying tackle boxes, coffee cans, and baby food jars overflowing with old, rusty nails and screws (half of them with stripped heads) does a 90+ year old need?

        It was great the first week or so after she passed away. My wife was there to help out and he responded better with her as she pushed him to get rid of stuff (most of it was stuff Grandma had to keep others from having it and Grandpa wanted it *gone*, no matter who took it). His 3-bedroom house had every room and closet crammed full of junk, in addition to a storage shed and utility room in the garage. When we left only his closet had anything in it, each room had one bed, nightstand, and dresser, and my brother and cousin helped finish clearing things out over the course of a year. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle to get rid of things from his farm house, where everything else was stored. We’re talking a “make a path” scenario. I dread going at Christmas time because last year he had 3 space heaters running unattended, one of them having lost its legs being set on a pair of old bricks on a wooden floor.

        We snuck out several stacks of old newspapers and checks dating back to the 70s. The farm house was built in the 40s. All that newspaper and wooden construction makes that house a huge tinderbox just waiting for a stray spark.

        At least he’s trying to get rid of one thing he doesn’t need or want anymore–his house in town!

          1. Drop them off at the ReStores. Trust me, SOMEONE will want the scrap. There are people that actually want the rusted appearance. That’s my favorite store for getting metal hardware, BTW!

    2. I’m going through that now. We just moved my parents to a retirement home. They lived in the same house 50+ years. Dad is a ham and played around with electronics (same with me). It broke my heart with all the stuff we sent to the recyclers. Even then I brought home a few car loads of electronic stuff. Fortunately I have a pole barn to store some of it.
      My daughter came to town one weekend to help clean the house. I mentioned to her that she gets to do this again someday with my stuff. Her reply was that the quality of the place she picks out for me will be determined by how much stuff she has to deal with. :-)

      Hopefully I will have scaled way back by then.

  2. “The way I chose to do it when I went through the process a few years ago was to adopt a rigorous strategy of evaluation for each item, with a set of criteria to apply to it and decide its fate.”

    I find it funny that the article led off with a short stretch of thinnet and went into “evaluating stuff.”

    If *anyone* doesn’t want a short stretch of 50-ohm coax, BNC tees, or 50-ohm terminators, dear God, I’ll take them all. Those things are consumables – you can’t ever have enough. Especially BNC, because you can get those cheap dual-banana to BNC female, and use them as a single cable over for meters, power supplies, etc.

    I’d almost never throw away a cable or adapter (definitely not if it’s RF, those will never be obsolete) – just get an organization kit for them and throw them in there. Then a few months down the line you’ll look at it and say “damnit, where did all of the BNC tees go?”

    1. To be fair, you don’t want Thinwire, most of it was that nasty solid-core and crimp connectors that fail if you breathe at them. Part of the reason why the networks were such a PITA to run.

      1. Hold on a second…you mean I wasn’t the only person in the universe to have bad luck keeping Thinwire 50 ohm Novell networks operational? I thought I was alone. The regular beratings I got from my employer made me think I was anyway.

          1. No, but I was working on an auto refill unit. I think our sales guy at the time was in no pain….leak or intentional tooting of the supply….you be the judge.

          2. I had the dubious honor of installing the first token ring network in the southern hemisphere. There were lots of token “compatibility” issues lol. I didn’t think token ring was well known? More of a niche thing for larger networks.

          3. That was half the problem – they were American tokens and every so often they would revert to going the wrong way around. The other half of the problem was that the American tokens were imperial and would get stuck in out metric cables. I can still remember the dreadful error message “Network Abend”.

      1. And GPIB-ENET boxes with the BNC connector are WAY cheaper than the UTP version. (Of course, the AUI version is best, but they don’t come up too often.)

        So yes, there’s a 10base-T hub stuck back there, with its UTP ports facing the rest of the network, and a nine-inch piece of thinnet with tees and terminators to bring that sorry old GPIB hairball within packet’s reach of the Labview VM.

        I’ve had another use for 10base-2 lately, as well: Had to run some network gear in an RF-shielded enclosure for testing. We had a filtered USB passthrough, but nothing for Ethernet. The PCs in the environment were too locked-down to stuff a USB NIC in there and just bridge the interfaces, so I had to come up with something else. Then I realized the chamber had a bunch of additional RF passthroughs! Swung by the e-waste recycler and grabbed a pair of old 10base-T hubs with 10base-2 ports, one for inside the chamber, one for outside. A pair of BNC-to-N adapter cables later (and the requisite tees and terminators, of course), and I was in business!

    1. Some of the stuff doesn’t even become useful until you have a quantity of them, in the “WTH do I need a bucketful of pager motors for? amounts”

      Bottlecaps, buttons from old desktop calculators, gears from an ancient clock that used to hang on a school wall, chopsticks, ribbon cable, old diskettes… plenty of arts and crafts projects start from finding some junk that should be thrown away.

      At one point I put away balls from roll-on deodorant bottles, and later found out I have a small cookie tin full of them, so I made a … umm… yeah.

      1. I have too many coffee cans, the brainwave was to array them betwixt two pieces of 8″ trellis, so they made a self supporting storage wall, buuuut, I now can’t find any trellis I like, it’s too shitty, staples falling out, dimensions wrong, wood split to hell already at the store, etc.. the small piece I had to base this idea on seems to be unique in the universe.

      2. “Dax wrote:
        At one point I put away balls from roll-on deodorant bottles”

        Yeah, I did that too, I figured they could be used as Foosballs (for Foosball tables).
        But I didn’t own a table, and my employer didn’t have one in the Break Room either!

          1. Ren, you hit the nail of the head. No wonder the “crazy” moniker my family gave to me never seemed to fit – now I am certain that, one day, my decades-long dedication in collecting my stash will not be in vain! Genius! ; )

  3. Couldn’t you just have warned me before throwing all that stuff away? A nice little truck would have been waiting in front of your house that day… :-) also, one of my vesa local bus graphics cards has just (a year ago) died and another one is flaky, so…

  4. I one day came to the realization that uncategorized (therefore un-findable, possibly also forgotten) parts were in a very real sense worse than not having the part at all. If you couldn’t find it when you needed it, or forgot that you had it at all, then it will never be actually Used and therefore will never be Useful. Worse than not having it, because it takes up space.

    I added a category of evaluation: Am I Willing To Organize / Categorize This?

    Surprisingly this was an effective and intuitive criteria I agonized very little over. Are these too good to throw away? Certainly. Am I willing to categorize and organize them? No? To the bin.

    1. Yup. A friend who does industrial electronic repair had a similar problem.

      Gave me a large bag of resistors. 1 bag. Hundreds of resistors. All manor of values. All brand new.

      Clearly too good to throw out, but for him, the time spent rummaging for a part barely worth a few cents was just not good business sense.

      I on the other hand had hobby time. I was willing to categorize them – to a degree.

      Bought a little 16 drawer parts organizer, labelled the first 10 drawers by the multiplier band and quickly sorted the resistors by that. Now each drawer has between 10 and 100 random resistors, but all of the same magnitude – I can quickly rummage through a few tens of resistors to see if I have or can cobble together the right value.

      The other 4 drawers? Well the bag did have a few values in a non-trivial quantity, and so those ones got their own drawer.

    2. “Worse than not having it, because it takes up space.”
      In my experience, also Worse because I spend a good 45 minutes digging around looking for the part I just KNOW I have somewhere, then end up buying it anyway because I can’t find it.

  5. I agree with Jenny! If you haven’t touched it or needed it for a year, then into the dust bin it goes. Get yourself some contractor rubbish bags (USA-Garbage bag liners) and go scorched earth policy on your junk. Then haul them out to the local thrift store (i.e. Goodwill, Savers, etc.) or take them to the local dump yard or recycler. Some will pay for metal parts.

    The idea is to get the crap UP off the floor. You need shelving. Any kind so you can stop looking down and trying to avoid bending over to sort through it. Boxes on the shelves are good but you need a label maker and you need to loosely sort things into general categories. Clear or translucent containers are better. To avoid tangled cables (as they naturally do that to dive you crazy), either hang them on the sides of the shelving or get some elastics (rubber bands) and cinch them up into tight curls and throw them in boxes categorized by type.

    Never put things in attache case, ammo boxes, pelican cases, etc. WITHOUT labeling them. You’d be surprised how fast you forget what’s in there and have to open it up to examine each case! Zippers and latches can be annoying. Don’t leave them in your kitchen or living area. That’s a good way to get divorced. Find you a space somewhere to stretch out. Like in the attic, garage, shed, back porch or even in an old lorie or trick van parked near the house, You can wire it up with power, heat, and cooling from the house. Be sure to block off the windows to stop nosy people from looking in. You’ll need some shelving and a work table. The chairs are already built in on minivans. Hook up a video intercom so the family knows you haven’t abandoned them. Also rig up a telephone extension and a Ethernet line for HaD messages.

    Now all you need is for someone to bring you meals and drinks. This could be your man-cave equipped with big screen TV hooked to NetFlix or Hulu. Don’t forget a sleeping bag and pillow when you need a quick nap. Your wife will be constantly knocking on the door “Honey come back into the house?” But your sitting in your lorie with a pile of junk around you building stuff like a mad scientist!

      1. That is a WAY to short period. It has at least to be extended to a decade. Example: my first SMD tone oscillator on a not beautiful, not rectangular self etched PCB on a piece of phenolic PCB material from >20 years ago. I did not touch it since moving to my apartment, 1998. But some months ago I had to repair a solar regulator and needed the SO8 40106 out of it. Of course a cheap chip – which costs less then 1/10 of the shipping costs for ordering a new one. :-)

  6. I have some junk but im not smart enough to know what to do with it.

    HaD has articles like “CNC made from rubbish” etc, but when all the motors in your junk bin are different sizes, and you dont have two belts or rods that match, how on earth do you make something from it?

    So i leave my junk where it is, and buy standard size parts. Once i reslised this, it became easier to chuck things out.

    1. You take a piece of aluminium from the other junk bin and fashion an adapter. Duh.

      If you can’t make stuff, there’s no point hoarding stuff. You’ll never do anything with it – but if you can make stuff then every other thing is just more raw material.

      For example, if you had tons of old hard drives, you could rip the magnets out and make an axial field generator for a water wheel.

      1. Ah, Dax offered an on topic & pertinent reminder, of an adage which has served me well for many decades:-

        1. A part, any part not nailed in place has immediate utility towards construction of a robot
        & should be used as such for the edification of mankind if not for the sheer delight of expression
        2. In the event a part is nailed in place then it is entirely appropriate to apply a suitable
        removal tool, such as a claw hammer to firmly but expertly remove the affixing device.
        3. Go to 1

        Which also brings to mind a corollary applicable to code within variants of genetic algorithms best
        explored by those keenly conversant with; permutations & unusual data structure primitives representative
        of practical devices such as resistors, capacitors through to code snippets of a more subtle nature
        offering inference of personality intent as expressed, such as in forum comments elsewhere ;-)

      2. Hmm, this caught me an “axial field generator” is there such an odd phrase re those terms ?

        Surely you meant a classic altermator (eg Fisher/Paykal motor with permanent magnets rewired
        as multi-phasic) to squeeze out as much efficiency as possible at the highest safest voltage, then
        its not an axial field its a circumferential rotating alternating field ( ie permanent magnet rotor)
        with the stator coils arranged to absorb as many changes in flux as possible – then suitably
        converted eg multi-phase rectification to a 2 wire low ripple feed some distance closest to final
        application – which may also employ a suitable SMPS for the intended application….

        1. It simply means a generator with the magnets fixed to a disc with the poles pointing in the direction of the axle.

          Hard drives magnets are already magnetized on the flat sides with alternating north-south poles so it’s trivial to glue them onto a rotor.

        2. When you search for “axial field” or “axial flux” generator, you find these:

          They’re good for any low-speed application because the magnets are fixed on the outer rim of the rotor disc and get a high velocity relative to the stator and the windings, which means it can make useful voltages out of something that spins at low RPM, such as a water wheel.

  7. I think a key reality to accept is that you will throw out something that you’ll need in the (near) future. But that needs to be _ok_. Let it go. Deal with it when it/if it comes.

    Just happened to me. Motivated by helping some others downsize, thinking about the stress of helping downsize my parents and going through a potential depression episode (I’m feeling better atm), I started purging a lot of junk that I haven’t touched in years. I can actually see my work bench now. Quite a layered archaeological tell of electronic / project history it was. And it felt a lot better getting an upper hand on my work space.

    Less than a month later, and I’m off to the store to buy some parts that had been sitting on my bench untouched for years. I nearly lost it – until I remembered that I had consciously decided before the purge that it was ok to buy new parts if I needed something I was throwing out.

    So I still feel ok about it. And will probably do another round of cleanup.

  8. My father dabbled in electronics and buying and selling surplus parts on Canal St after WW II. At one point he’d cornered the market on banana plugs and was selling them back to the dealer he bought them from. Weighed out on the kitchen table with a baby scale. He was also building a 7 transistor radio when we moved around the block. That was 1958.

    58 years later Dad is dead but I’ve got about a 20′ cargo container full of old military surplus electronics and other nice stuff. Except that most of it is damaged, if not ruined. This just the tip of the iceberg. Somewhere there should be a 1940’s aspirin tin labeled “blunt phonograph needles”. My sister keeps looking for it as we wade through “the stuff”. Which has moved from Brooklyn to Arkansas. There is a hardware store supply of various fasteners in this melange.

    It is very tempting to just shovel it all into a dumpster, but we are descended from 400 year old Puritan families. So there are things that should not be discarded despite the agony of it all. Among the things found was a British telegraph receipt for a message sent on 16 November 1861 for message 16 at a cost of 1:6. It was certainly sent by Caleb Huse who was in England to purchase arms for the Confederate States of America. We’d been wondering why he saved it. I’d been thinking it was sent to inform Jefferson Davis of the first arms purchase. However, I just noticed the repetition and permutation of “16” so it may be of less significance than I had thought.

    I’m dealing with approximately three 40 ft trailer loads of Dad’s stuff. (Not counting my personal stuff which is only three 28 ft trailer loads ;-) But that’s a full workshop with lathe, mill, etc and a 5000 volume technical library. But with lots of saved bits too.

    So, we learn about your scope test cable. I’ve got a bunch of thinwire junk also. Back in the day I kept a map of the research lab network on the wall so I could help the admins resolve the problems quickly. We were so thrilled when they rewired the building for twisted pair.

    In dealing with my own hoard, I’ve concluded that shelves of identical numbered bins and a computer database of what’s in the bins is the only practical solution. A quick search and you know if you have it and where it is. Essential for a hackerspace.

    The moral of the story is you allocate a certain amount of space. When it is full, you only save something if you’re prepared to discard something to make room. I do this with a cupboard for throw away containers. It ensures a ready supply but keeps it from getting out of hand.

    1. Is there a hackerspace that can use the shop equipment?
      Is someone within 75 miles looking to set up a hackerspace?
      The Milwaukee Makerspace owns very little equipment, most of the equipment is “on loan” from various people and
      Something to consider…

    2. There’s a good market for mil surplus electronics I think, especially if it looks cool or is repairable. I’m a bit fond of old military radios.

      Anyway, I totally get how hard it is to throw away. You just know there’s some value, so you want to see that recognized. You’d rather give something to someone than just pitch it. Worse, you’d hate to see someone else cash in on something you simply threw out.

      These are all signs that the stuff is in control.

      Anyway, good luck.

      1. Another Mil Collector here Ken! In the next year somebody somewhere is going to chuck a T-39* chest set for a BC-745 because it’s in the middle of daddy’s rubbish, and I would love to have it. I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars to complete the set, since I bought the radio in 1986 for ten bucks, repaired the antenna a few years later when Fair advertised them in their catalog, found the manual from Yascavage when he was still selling them… will I ever get it together, or will all of this go in a dumpster in a few years itself? These are worse than collecting action sets, and I never have had one as complete as the ones proudly shown at the MRCA fests on the coast. If you have a BC-348, there’s still the missing DM-28, the PL-103, wait, no–the whole shock mount, the manual– “So Packrat, how *much* of the plane are you gonna collect!?!?”

    1. Damn you! I was just getting ready to convince my boss that I’m sick and need to go home, so I can start throwing stuff out… I now think I remember that I might have had some 6502s somewhere, so I’d better not throw away anything!

    2. I have a bunch of old gold ICs that were included in a bulk buy (huge box of ICs still in their rails for $20) a few years ago. List on one particular item is about $50 each from China. I put them up on ebay for $25 each and only had a couple of insulting low-ball offers. One of them offered 50 cents each for 5 of them and included in the note “You’ll never sell them because it’s not real gold!” I ended up selling a lot of 12 for $250 cash plus a rail of Nixie tube drivers at a swap meet (the first I’ve ever been to). The lady said she had a lot of buyers looking for old parts to repair vintage equipment, especially in Eastern Europe. I got her number and later sold her a huge lot of ARCNET transceiver modules and took the family on vacation.

      Regardless, I’m pretty sure that particular processor selling so high was more because of its rarity (unused in original packaging) than scrap value.

  9. I’ve gone through this quite a few times over the years – Moving sucks when youve got a hoard. When I was a kid I was set with my quick fix solution, a cheap heat gun and a bucket. During those first few years when LCD monitors got cheap enough that you could pick up half a dozen CRT’s per garbage day, it was a quick way to reduce a truckload of stuff to a shoebox worth of parts. I didn’t gut trinitrons though – they just freaking worked too well to sacrifice.

    Towers were tougher though, I got to the point where I literally used “beige boxes” as table legs and shelving – alongside, at any given time, 2-3 6′ tall stacks of 486 and socket-7 motherboards. Cards I sold to a dealer at a flea market, while ram and cpus went into their own piles.

    . . . Fast forward to college, after being forced to realize that I had entirely too much stuff – Over 90% of it got gradually trashed or sold (rarely), and I slowed down in picking up random stuff. Here’s the kicker though, and why I’m sure there’s a certain group of you that hold onto obsolete and useless stuff – Anyone remember 2009-2010, when 386, 486, and 6×86 components went from junk to gold on the resale market? I clearly remember selling my last three cyrix 133/166 cpu’s for around $60 each on ebay, then kicking myself in the ass for the other hundred or so, along with easily 20lbs of ram that were trashed alongside them years before. . .

    Three moves later I have devoloped a simple rule – If it’s bigger than a shoebox, and I don’t need it/components in it for a particular project right now, it goes or never comes home in the first place. The only exceptions are books and deal of a lifetime items, but even those are required to be rare/esoteric.

    1. I wouldn’t worry about kicking yourself for not holding on to the hundreds of other things. Had you listed all of it, you would have flooded the market and prices on all of that stuff would have dropped, making it not even worth the postage to buy.

  10. When I was in grade 5 or 6, my best friend’s dad, an electronics tech, gave me a couple boxes of his old electronics junk. The bits and pieces I pulled from those boxes fascinated me to no end, which led me in part to eventually become an EE. Now, over 30 years later, I too have an overabundance of electronics ‘junk’ that I’d love to give away to someone to be similarly inspired.

  11. If your worktable is clean, some people think that you are doing nothing. This might be a problem at work if your company is downsizing … or they want to dump some ill-defined project at your table. Meanwhile your slob colleague with “bloody mess” table gets away free :) Balance is needed, as in everything in life.

  12. When I was a kid I’d spend hours sorting through my dad’s big coffee cans full of misc bolts and bobs. I’d build robots and spaceships (imaginary ones) using the parts, then take them apart and put them back in the coffee cans. I miss them all.

  13. There is a place created just for this occasion! It’s called the FREEStore over at OpenBuilds and it’s a great way to give your unwanted parts to another builders/schools/makerspace that really needs it.

  14. I like keeping the small stuff (old ICs), because even after 10 years, you may have a use for them. I recently used a 7404 that I had acquired almost 30 years ago. Having a collection of old parts helps with the creative process of hacking, and leads to people coming up with new ways of using components.

  15. After joining a maker space (Omaha Maker Group), I was introduced to the concept of “purge days” when all the clutter in the shop was either trashed, recycled, or sorted and stored properly. I’ve started to use the same discipline in my workspace. I’ve stopped adopting old PC’s, instea I use virtual machines. If I’ve got a pile of parts to for a future project, then I I get them in to a container so they won’t get scattered. I’ve organized my tools do they are readily available. If I’m not sure if the my items have any value, I throw an email on OMG’s list and ask them “Trash or Treasure?” Finally, I think three times before I bring anything home that I’m not going to convert in a project soon. It took me a long time to de-clutter, and I don’t want to go back.

  16. If it’s not easily replaceable then I would at least try to give it away, maybe throw it on Flea Bay with just enough minimum bid to gaurantee the shipping gets paid for, Craigslist, or just lay it out on a table at a local hamfest with a free sign.

    Don’t get me wrong, it won’t all go. But.. there are people out there who are into all sorts of vintage stuff. That part you just threw away is probably exactly what someone somewhere desperately wants in order to complete their own project.

  17. Hello, my name is Ken and I’m a junkaholic.

    (pause, where you all drone “Hi, Ken” and I nod gratefully)

    At least I’m a high-functioning junkaholic. It’s relatively contained, I’m still gainfully employed, and my wife hasn’t left me. This is important because I have a friend who is … tragically worse at junk hoarding (eg 3 defunct office copying machines. why?), and his wife finally did leave him. Not kidding. I’m trying to help him cut down, and using the dump runs to offload some of my crap too.

    ( but junkaholics – confess! Doesn’t it feel spectacular when you need a part or some bits to fix something else, and you actually have it… and can find it? Hoarder heroin. I simply love being able to tackle a project without having to go out and get parts.)

    What’s helping me is seeing how much worse it could get. But also looking at my age, making a guess at for how long will I give a sh!t about this stuff, and then seeing if there’s even enough time to use all this stuff.

    Anyway, my almost weekly Banggood shipment is forcing me to pitch older stuff just to make room.

    1. Yeah, going to a hamfest or other place and seeing other guys trying to get rid of their “junk” makes me realize I will be in the same predicament someday, and that gives me a shot of “don’t bring it home!”

  18. Anyone find it’s as much a time problem as anything else? What I would regard as “my” junk has through a couple of moves in the past, and general upheaval and disorganisation since has got mingled with “household” junk. Plus it doesn’t help that household fixes and emergencies get done in a blind panic rush, tools and supplies get everywhere and at end of “project”, I’m too freaking exhausted to put things away properly (If there’s a proper place) and they kinda get shoved back any old how. Now, I’ve got family members who are enthusiastic to help sort out my basement, some of them are dangerous, some are useless, some of them want to clear space so I can store their freaking furniture instead.

    By dangerous I mean, they have a kind of blood lust for cleaning, they get gung ho with mad glint in their eye, the only way to do it as far as they are concerned is to trash absolutely everything, then scour what’s left with SOS pads until you are through the paint, then repaint. The second type, useless, is… they are happy to help, but have no concept of the idea of sorting things. You can say, “I want all the books in these boxes here, all the spare kitchen stuff in these boxes…” and 5 minutes later there’s a kettle going in a box half full of books… “Well there was room” … But I’m trying to separate stuff!!!! … and some of those types helped me move in the past, I asked them to write on boxes an idea of what was in them…. I have numerous boxes of mixed goods marked “Stuff” and yah, there’s 2 VHS tapes some cleaning products, a jersey, a lid to a pan that’s been missing years, couple ornaments a remote control… and these people I catch them trying to add more boxes, they helped clean upstairs, and now there’s another box going in there with the furniture polish, a cloth, some old mail, a couple of books, a stack of flyers…. aaaaaargh, flyers and old mail in recycling furniture polish and cloth in cleaning cupboard!!!… and … some of “my” junk boxes that had their tops open, and had room in, have been topped off with random crap… it’s ridiculous… I have even had some of my stuff dumped on the floor because someone needed a box… to fill with assorted stuff that should have gone elsewhere.

    Then there’s that 3rd type, they just want the room you’re taking up. THEY want to renovate, downsize, or whatever, and it’s an insult to them that your own items are taking up space in your own house, that they could have taken up with crap from their house. So yeah, they just want to junk anything. Then some of those, you clear space for yourself, go out for the afternoon and there’s something freaking sitting in it, their old baby crib that was too good to throw out, because someone might need it… yah, but not me. Others in my household do it to, one day I spent all morning tidying my bench to work on a large server tower unit… went away from it for 20 minutes, staggered back with the heavy unit and there’s freaking laundry on my workbench…. So I’ve got that kind of mental block too of “It’s pointless making space to move because it will get filled”

    Some of these people, they don’t believe I don’t want the help, so if there’s any chance of them being around, and I’ve actually got time to do any sorting. I can’t…. it’s just pointless…. they’ll want to help… mainly because they are usually the source of my lack of time, the cars been to three shops and still won’t run and only I can fix it… and I curse every freaking time this happens, try to blow it off with “Well sounds like a bad problem, why don’t you just park it here and I’ll try to get to it next month” … “No, no, take a quick look now.” … so I take a look… see a shitty ground, clean it up… all better… so fuck, now I’m the miracle worker again…

    1. You are living my life, brother! Sometimes, though, the 1st and 3rd examples are the same person. We literally had a family member say, “Let’s redo your downstairs, get rid of the stuff I see no value in, and I’ll use your place as storage/second house.” They wanted to: clear out our unfinished basement area {including cloth diapers (very expensive but worth it), antique heirlooms going back 6 generations on my wife’s side, baby clothes (my wife was noticeably pregnant at the time and was told “just get something else as garage sales!”), my computers for my folding@home project, and a radio I was restoring, not to mention my expensive test equipment that I got and repaired cheaply}, get rid of the bed in our guest room and replace it with their exercise equipment (that they NEVER used), replace my 3 month old plasma TV with their CRT unit (because the recyclers wanted to charge $20 to take it and HD is “overrated”), and replace the entire sink because the faucet dripped (warranty replacement on the cartridge). And those were the small items they wanted done while insisting we give them a key so they could come in at any time.

  19. I’ve definitely gotten into the philosophy and psychology of clutter.

    I’ve found:

    – Consumer culture is what makes clutter. My ability to buy anything new, right now, is what gives me the ability to bring stuff home faster than I can take care of it. If I never bought anything, or bought things much much more slowly, “clutter” would not be an issue. I try to be mindful and considerate when making purchases. I try to buy second hand, or repair things I already have. Any time I spend money on goods it makes a mess.

    – I’ve been telling myself that messes and piles are good because they are natural (that is, the mess forms by itself as a natural byproduct of me interacting with my stuff). I suspect this is slightly incorrect. Consumer culture was born out of the first agrarian and specialized societies. It did not evolve with us as a species. It is not a natural process. Instead, it is a technological meme. Our instincts served our hunter-gatherer ancestors, but they do not scale well and are of little use unmodified.

    – I personally don’t like pre-built workspaces. I prefer to set up a prototype workspace that can be reconfigured. Only if I find myself setting up the same configuration repeatedly do I start looking for ways to make the setup permanent.

    – The easiest excuse for making a mess is convenience. It is easier to put something down where you are standing than to put it away. Therefore, organizational optimization for the purpose of decluttering should be focused entirely on making things easier to put away. Don’t worry about finding things and putting a label on everything. Focus on making it easier to put away.

    – There is so much loose paper everywhere. Get rid of it. If you have to keep it, put it in a binder.

    – Clean things. Dirty things generally only get more difficult to clean the longer you put it off. If you can psyche yourself up to it, cleaning immediately almost always takes only half the time.

    – My possessions are triggering my ADHD. I get distracted. One of the things I get distracted with most is my stuff. Keeping it clean, organized, and working frees up time I was spending worried and distracted. Being mindful of this informs some of my purchases.

    1. “– Consumer culture is what makes clutter. My ability to buy anything new, right now, is what gives me the ability to bring stuff home faster than I can take care of it. If I never bought anything, or bought things much much more slowly, “clutter” would not be an issue. I try to be mindful and considerate when making purchases. I try to buy second hand, or repair things I already have. Any time I spend money on goods it makes a mess.”

      Hah, that’s what’s gets me started, rarely buy new stuff, cadge two broken ones, make one whole one, then have bits left….

    2. …Other people’s consumer culture is what makes my clutter. I’m a sucker for the curbside treasure. So I’m not spending money (I say to myself) not thinking that I’m about to spend time and storage space.

        1. I found a really nice vintage Stihl chainsaw minus the bar and pull starter/gas tank at the local Goodwill in their “damaged” bin for $10. I took it home thinking it would be great to rebuild it. Then, I found out the bar is $50, plus a used tank/starter assembly is another $60, and the muffler/chain cover assembly is another $40+. After cleaning all the grease off, I found out the handle has a crack in a very bad place. It would easily end up costing me $200 to get it to running condition when I could get a brand new one for just a little more with warranty, or a used professional one for a little less.

  20. This article strikes so many chords with me I feel I could have written it myself. Guilty as charged, I see usefulness in so many items that I endlessly hold on to and find I have no space left to work in. I explain it away to myself as I have two small children but really the only space they take up in my workshop is a tiny child’s bicycle (and that’s only one of them). I actually own a great big block (interconnected bit of modern art?) of BNC t-piece connectors and terminators I keep for no good reason at all other than to remind me of my first computer network that didn’t involve null modem cables. I have tried several times to thin the collection out but I never seem to get ruthless enough to do it. I wonder how many marvellous hacks never reach fruition due to cluttered workspaces that inspire apathy. On the nose as usual HaD!

    P.S: we should all post pictures of our clutter so we can all motivate each other to get realistic, no amount of mid 90’s portable inkjet printers will ever amount to a 3D printer and you know it…

    (Secret shame)

    1. Even regular desktop inkjet printers rarely have any NEMA stepper motor in them. To get useful motors for 3D printers and desktop CNCs you need to find hardware from the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I found a NEMA 17 and a NEMA 23 in an electronic typewriter, for example. Big office-type printers will also have them. If you want to get NEMA 17/23 steppers, old 132-columns dot matrix printers are your best hope. Don’t forget that most six-wires steppers can be used as bipolar steppers, so don’t throw those away!

      1. Printer/Scanners often have one stepper in them but you would need 5 of them to get the 5 or so stepper you need for a 3D printer / CNC. You can just but the exact steppers you want for as little as $10 each so why bother with old printers etc.

        Sure I still collect the steppers but I haven’t found a use for single units because I can buy new steppers cheaply.

  21. Ohh, forgot another one:

    – I feel weird about this, but I do it anyway. I’m a little bit superstitious about cleaning. Whenever I lose something, I treat it as if the universe was punishing me for letting the mess get too big. Whenever I identify that the universe is getting angry about the mess (manifesting itself as me losing stuff and then spending ridiculous amounts of time tearing through the house looking for it) I stop looking and start cleaning. Inevitably the universe is mollified and I find whatever I’m looking for after a few hours of cleaning.

    1. “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”– Douglas Adams

  22. My personal rule has been, other than shelving and bins, no purchasing ‘storage’ space (like storage units, carports, etc.) This has served me well and helped with the ejection of many large space-sucking items (including when I lived in a very small rental). Now owning my own residence and building 24×36 shop, I get to cherry pick what gets to be under a roof, in a bin, labeled, on a shelf, where I can FIND it.

    So far it’s going quite well. Have come across one or two bins of random electronics pcbs/wires/etc. and have consolidated all into one. If it doesn’t fit, it ships [out]. Discovering the bins of things saved for ‘the dream shop’ has been a treat…10+ years of collection to deploy into the building.

    I’ve given a lot of stuff away (usually working) which has been hard since I grew up with very little to scrounge/play with in terms of electronics goodies. My recent splurge was rescuing a large quantity of vintage POTS telephones for an art project a friend and I do throughout the year.

    My biggest issue has been spare vehicular parts….but when the car is gone it’s easy to part ways with EVERYTHING for that car. Similar to electronics but real dirty and generally heavy.

    Nothing beats helping a friend fix something important by reaching into a (seemingly to them) random bin and pulling out the part they need to save their bacon.

  23. I have one rule about knick knacks, and that is “sitters vs. hangers.” If I can hang it on a wall, I can buy it. If it’s a sitter, I can’t buy it. If it’s a sitter that can be converted into a hanger, I can buy it. As for project parts, I don’t keep electronics because I work at an electronics distributor and get everything at 10% above cost. :^) If there is electronics “junk” at work, I mail it to a Makerspace after confirming that they want it.

  24. Guilty as stated. The FIRST item in my inventory spreadsheet is the ubiquitous 1N914. I have just shy of 30,000 in stock. Maybe useful someday… I hope.

    That’s just in the electronics stash. There is also the RC Model Aircraft/Cars parts inventory… then Car Parts… Motorcycle Parts…. plus 3 Generations of tools left to me to loose my own tools in the mass. Then there’s the Antique Kitchen Devices… all hand operated…

    If ya’s gots ta hoard… do it with style!

    1. I also have a bit of a problem with rotating enthusiasms. Though I don’t think the model train bug is going to bite again, been over a decade and prices seem high, so should cash that out.

      1. Oh my! No. The small parts rule that works for me is “If I can’t keep it organized and somewhat inventoried then out it goes.” For larger items (like my fully functional Epson HX-20 or the Apple ][e) it’s a bit harder to decide. The Apple went.

        Can’t really say these have been collections from “rotating enthusiasms”. I don’t collect stuff from the temporary enthusiasms, just from the long term serious interests. Temporary enthusiasm create temporary collections… and the junk departs at same time the enthusiasm does.

        Keeping things relatively organized is a prerequisite to “keeping things”.

  25. Just this week, a colleague reminded me he needed a “BNC splitter”. I found my collection :-)

    Just last week, I was helping my dad sort his garage and under-house storage ready to downsize/move. He mostly hoarded timer and steel, and some bike and car parts, but does have a little electrical gear: a couple of nice ammeters, some other automotive stuff, and an old bakelite light switch in good order – feels so nice to switch it! Oh, and more spanners than you can poke a stick at.

  26. For me it was a cross country move. Although paid for, I found an electronic recycler that got my old Palm (pilot) development parts, various cables and things very obsolete, some old CRT monitors…
    My current problem is I have a makerspace practically in my back yard, but they still don’t have 24/7 access. So I’m not inclined to fix the gridlock.

  27. I’ve come to terms and have made a lot of progress in reclaiming my space. My main block at this point is the stuff that is garbage but I don’t want to put in the trash. Things like computer cases which I assume can be recycled or PCBs which I feel like can’t go in the dump. These are things taking up a lot of space, but I can’t figure out how to get rid of them.

  28. Outside of being a wicked pack rat, I have a rathe large “sculpture” someplace made out of all of the old tees and terminators from the old thinnnet stuff we used to have. Every time I took a piece of that out, I added the tee to the sculpture. I have not seen it in years, I am sure it has settled to the bottom in one of the buildings, but it was way too cool to throw out.

  29. Oh my… We are all horders. I have one closet dedicated to computer parts. And electronics. I have an apple server….no reason. Never going to use it…and running pcs that’s the hardest. I have 7 pc’s all quad core or i7. Only use 3. But when you have a computer room…fill it with computers! Why couldn’t I be a motorcycle or car horder……could be worse. I don’t have storage containers, no offense.

    1. Yeah!!! two years ago me and the wife spent a month clearing out a 24×36 pole bldg and surrounds. Thousands of lbs of scrap metal including a metal shaper, about 200 lbs of lathe chucks, another 200 lbs of electric motors and that is just the stuff that we took to the scrap metal dealers. Several cubic yards of old books and magazines went in the dumpster. Also sold 3 lathes and huge amounts of smaller tools and electronics. when we left there were still at least 6 sewing machines still there as well as a table saw and a 16″ band saw that need to go. Oh yeah I still have a lathe sitting there that weighs upwards 3000 lbs. and we could easily spend another month doing the same thing all over again. My goal is to get the whole works cleaned up before we croak. We had moved to Mexico and this was just the stuff we had left behind. I have never been so tired in my life. Now let me tell you about the whole pile of “stuff” we have accumulated down here in Mexico… I try to get rid of some of it every week. This week it was clothing. I got rid of about half of my collection. next week?? Who knows but something. I never meant for it to get this bad but stuff happens. Woodworking stuff, Metalworking stuff, Electronics stuff…. pumps, motors and just plain “stuff”.

  30. I did a massive purge of old electronics stuff this summer, followed by a garage sale. Almost everything else that was left over was sent to the electronics recycler. I managed to scrape together almost enough to by myself that nice, SMALL, Rigol scope that I have been eyeing. I’m doing the same this winter with my machine shop, and my self-imposed rule is “nothing enters without something else leaving”. I felt awful as I began, and felt great as I finished and looked back at all the room that I had cleared, and even better with all of those lodestones of “projects I’ll get to one day or another) removed from my neck.

  31. the other thing about junk is it sits there for 20 years,then just after you throw it away you need it a week later. the trick is to remember you threw it out before you start looking for it. sewing machines, i have 2 haven’t used either of them yet but after seeing a new one in Lidls the other week and asking a middle aged lady who looked like she may know a bit about sewing machines if i should junk mine, to which she replied don’t, one of them is staying. the other 90% of stuff has gone to that happy place where all junk goes. the local recycling centre. still have a small amount of what is probaly toxic waste. mercury switches. BO encased high power tubes and such like and a few rgas filled spark gaps. any offers? may even be some PCB fillled caps if you a lucky.

  32. Before getting married, I was such a hoarder that I slept on the futon in my living room because both of my bedrooms were full of random stuff I had accumulated throughout my life. My wife helped me weed through it because after we got married, she wasn’t going to sleep on the futon–she wanted a real bed. It took about 3 months until was all condensed so that it would fit into 1 of the bedrooms, about a week before we got married.

    Now, I have only one tote bin and a half of a rack of shelves to store things (mostly test equipment and old computers). I may even purge some of the stuff this coming spring when we have our massive clean out/garage sale.

    At work however, is a different story. We have a lot of “dead stock” and NOS factory-discontinued items in our inventory that people haven’t bought in 2 decades. My boss finally told me this past spring, “Let’s get rid of anything you don’t think we need anymore. If it’s broken, I don’t want it in the shop anymore.” I took about 300 pounds of electric motors in addition to a lot of brass and aluminum. I walked away from the recyclers with more than enough money to cover my mileage and buy lunch for the shop.

    I also had a pallet of 100 hard drives in my garage for 3 years that I bought locally for $100 thinking that I could make a nice profit selling them individually. I didn’t even sell one of them. Thinking all was lost, I decided to give up and took them to the recycler. I was pleasantly surprised when they gave me ~$350 for the whole pallet. I didn’t have to worry over whether they worked or selling fees.

  33. i did manage to stike gold once. went to an auction with the wife. usually a mistake, but not this time. i brought a pallet of scinalation counters, yes a know i spelt it wrong, what are you going to do with those she said. don’t know yet. 2 weeks later chernobyl went up. she took over selling and we made enough to cover the costs of most of the other junk i brought. i haven’t yet been forgiven for buying 20 large chart recorders that filled the garage for years till i finally gave up and scrapped them.

  34. From the total number of comments, Hackaday has a hit topic with us self confessed electronics junkies. In retrospect, my “hoarding” started with computers that family members no longer wanted, then expanded to electronic toys as I discovered the DIY hobby electronics world, then expanded to anything electric or electronic I found at second hand stores (Golf GPS units, discarded DJ equipment, interesting pumps and motors, old “repairable” benchtop power supplies, etc) that I thought I might need some day or thought I could sell on eBay for a profit (note, I haven’t setup my first auction yet!).

    A lot of this was picked up for the purpose of learning new things as my electronics interests moved amongst many topics and as I moved on to new projects before finishing old ones. I think I’ve realized that learning new things is more important to me than finishing all my projects. So now I’m limiting the growth of my “stuff” by throwing out the things that don’t represent as much new learning opportunity for me. It makes it easier to part with some of this stuff knowing that what I keep and what limited new junk I acquire holds more learning opportunity than the old junk that I part with.

    Hope this perspective helps some other Hackaday hoarders! ????

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