Dangerous Prototypes Big Box of Parts

I discovered The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk (TGIMBOEJ for short, ranking right up there as Worst Acronym Ever) recently. It’s a neat idea; sign up on The TGIMBOEJ site and a box chock full ‘o stuff magically appears on your doorstep some time later. Relying on the principal that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, these magical boxes of cruft get passed along, telephone game style, from one geek to the next. Participants in the game take items out of the box that they find useful and put some of their spare parts in as a replacement. In theory, this process should be very effective with electronics components, as deep discounts can often be attained when purchasing items in larger quantities. Most electronics hobbyests that I’ve met have acquired small hoards of components, whether due to the psychology of THE DISCOUNT (one part for $5, or 20 for $10? Sold!) or through some failed project notion which never fully materialized.

Alas, though I have volunteered my name for one of these mystical TGIMBOEJ packages, I have not yet been blessed by the arrival of the magical component fairy. However, one day while eating a particularly terrible bowl of soup for lunch and reading through my RSS feeds, I discovered that a user on the Dangerous Prototypes forum was starting a new box of parts in the TGIMBOEJ tradition. I threw my hat in the ring and became recipient #3 of this box!

The box arrived at my doorstep about three weeks later.  The contents were about what one would expect from a grab bag- some really nice premium items, some unused, run-of-the-mill components, and some seriously dubious cruft (including a bunch of badly desoldered components with twisted and gnarled pins).  I really wish I had made a full inventory of stuff in the box or at least had taken a few pictures documenting the contents; the dichotomy of parts was pretty stunning.

I took a few interesting items out of the box:

  • A Soviet IN-1 NIXIE tube
  • A 20′ fiber-optic patch cable
  • A pair of Maxim MAX311xE SPI UART/RS232 transcievers
  • A Maxim MAX7219 LED Matrix driver
  • A TPIC2603 serial low-side driver
  • A DS1305 real-time clock IC
  • A SuperProbe PCB
  • A TinyProgrammer PCB
  • A couple of hobbyest-created PCBs

I added a bunch of other items:

  • A small collection of new PLCC sockets
  • A bunch of Arduino shields:
    • XBee shield
    • Irrigation control shield
    • Sensor shield
  • A PIC32 dev board PCB
  • Small protoboards
  • Thermal battery switches
  • 4×8 LED matrix
  • Small OLED screen from cell phone
  • A bunch of unused BusPirate v3 cases
  • A collection of TI F2102 dev boards
  • 4 Amperex bi-quinary NIXIE tubes
  • A Soviet A101 Dekatron
  • A 7-Segment SPI display board
  • An ATTiny2313 dev board with instructions and two odd AVR programmers
  • A bunch of spare 4000- and 7400-series TTL and CMOS logic parts
  • A bunch of LM3915N LED dot/bar driver ICs
  • And some miscellaneous Analog samples in surface-mount packages that I would probably never use
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I also threw in some other miscellaneous odds and ends that aren’t really worth mentioning.  All new, functional parts that were cluttering up my workbench and that I probably would have never used.

I’m really happy with how this turned out; I got some new parts to mess around with, got rid of unnecessary clutter, and (hopefully) someone else will find the items that I submitted useful.

The box is still floating around the country, and registration is still open if you want to get in on the action (this box is for USA participants only).  Just hop over to the DangerousPrototypes forum and add your name to the message thread!

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