Ruminations on Rummaging

My colleagues have begun to notice my Monday morning glow. It all started when I began to want to build BEAM bots. The delight I


take in going to the dump each weekend to pick through the “trade shack” for broken electronic filled toys is rarely matched.  What is not to like?  The thrill of the hunt, feeling clever not having to shell out money for odds and ends, and the absolutely incomparable joy of taking things apart that I do not have to put back together are exhilarating!


Then, in the quiet of my shop as the snow falls outside and the cold winds blow, I create piles of colorful bits and pieces!  Rubbery things here, weird (but useful) shapes there, oddball knobs and switch covers, gears for looks and gears for work, capacitors, LEDs and on and on …everything small and in its own pile.

My husband bought me parts bins for Xmas, the colorful ones that stack.  What a good guy!   But they are full.  So is the floor under the shop easy chair, the top of the drafting table, 5 shelves, 2 drawers in a plan file, and a 2 bushel sized chunk of space hiding behind the paper cutter. I could spend all my time organizing!  

Perhaps not as cheery as a live canary (but if it dies I can fix it!), my last bot chirps away on the workbench next to me, complaining if I throw shadows on its solar cell, but usually keeping a good beat to work to.  

This is a very cool hobby.

It appears you have tried to

It appears you have tried to embed a video, but none of us can see it. You might want to double check that your embed link is correct or maybe just try and repost it. I want to see the video  :)

This is it ->

This is it ->

Nice writeup. In the “very much so” category.

And your video has a delightful satirical tone to it. Keep blogging Emma.

At 0:40 : “Cause and effect in the future generation is gonna be so screwed up.” Word!

video fixed

One tiny space got in the way somehow.


I see you’re repairing the mp3 player, but have you pulled anything interesting out of the other toys?  Or just black blob chips?

Re. Innards…

Ya know…I don’t know enough yet to KNOW if I have anything cool!  I harvest capacitors  and leave things I think may be nifty alone until I know what they are and what they will do. I’m getting a ton of LEDS and tiny micro switches (if that is what they are called…I just recently bumped into them in a Jameco catalog and forget their exact name).  

The mp3 player turns out to only download from proprietary Fisher Price software.  Bummer…I thought I had something nice to give away!

I am amazed at the complexity of what is in some of these toys I get at the dump.


Great word, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

innards |ˈinərdz|

plural noun informal


internal workings (of a device or machine).

ORIGIN early 19th cent.: representing a dialect pronunciation of inwards , used as a noun.



That’s some pretty cool

That’s some pretty cool stuff you have there! When my little sister grows up, I’m gonna have a lot of dismembered toys on desk ;). I have a really neat book on BEAM robotics that you might want to get called “Junkbots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels” by Dave Hrynkiw and Mark Tilden, if you don’t have it already. Happy building!

Where do you go to find this

Where do you go to find this stuff? I’m not sure my town’s gargage dump allows you to go browsing through it for stuff. I’d be interested to know more about how you started doing this.

shopping at the dump

Our town has a transfer station that we take our garbage and trash and recyclables to.  There is also a small garden shed that is a “trade shack”.  If you have something you think might be wanted by someone else you can leave it there.  There are often out of date electronic stuff like old amps, telephones, scanners, plus bunches of used toys that still have some life in them (I think some are there because they were obnoxious with loud or annoying sounds).

I’m a re-user by nature.  BEAM bots seem easier than taxidermy was, and I don’t have to have dead birds in the freezer grossing out my hub!  The artist/mechanical nut, Arthur Ganson’s stuff attracted me years ago, then I began to see tiny bots doing stuff that was sort of similar.  I love the fine, fiddly work…I used to be an inlayer/engraver decades ago, and this allows me to reuse my old tools and skills whch feels good. I enjoy the spontaneous goofy use of the recycled stuff.  

Ganson links -