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Mar
31
2011

Take these broken things

Actual dumpster divers caught in the act at our old office. We don't process returns at our new place, so we miss you, dumpster divers!

We have a problem. And it's growing at a rate proportional to our return pile.

We can't, in good conscience, resell damaged electronics. And we can't donate them to charity--the saddest kid in the world is one with a handheld video game that won't turn on. Garbage, then? Not good for the environment.

Luckily for us, there's an entire class of scavengers out there ready to pick the bones of our helicopters, keyboards, and interactive t-shirts: hackers, makers, and crafty techy types.

Whether it's in a school's technology lab, or a FIRST Robotics team, or your neighborhood hackerspace, we're betting somebody out there would enjoy getting a box of broken stuff from us every couple of months--and then use the parts and pieces for good, not evil.

While we can't promise anything right now, we're very seriously considering setting up such a subscription and we're ready to gather contact information from those who are interested. Sign up below and we'll see where this goes!

A few notes and caveats:

  1. By filling out the form, you vow to make something awesome and you won't be a jerk and sell our borked things on eBay. (We'll be watching.)
  2. We hope you'll send us photos and updates on projects--we want to see our liddle things all growed up!
  3. Our warehouse is in Columbus, Ohio, and groups in that area that can pick up boxes are ideal, but we'll work out some shipping options for others. (It would help enormously if you can pick up the tab.) International hackers, we'll see, but it could be very expensive to ship to you.

UPDATE 4/22 1:25pm ET
So. You guys are kinda into broken things, apparently. The little form below has logged 1,930 requests to date, so we know the interest is there and we're giving this program a shot. In fact, we've sent out some already but it will take time to work through the list. We're giving priority to groups--especially those that work with children or for educational, community reasons--so personal hobbyists, please be aware you may be in for a long wait. We are, however, doing our best to get to everyone, so we appreciate your patience!

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Comments

meaningless icon! I can has broked-ed toys to tinker with?!!!
dizzifaust said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! everyone needs to petition governments to get them to make some of there surplus "garbage" be made available for uses like this. I work for a large department and we send tons of old equipment to recycling centers that would be fun/could be made useable if someone wants P3's or early p4's.
strider3700 said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! My brother used to dumpster dive for broken Trasformer toys behind a comic shop. He would hack two or three so he could get one perfect working one. Then I'd pretend they were Barbie's robot boyfriend, and break them all over again. But seriously, this idea is great.
ashleystew said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Sadness, I don't have a group/website/UPS account but I DO have crafty ambitions & an Artfire account/friends with a 10yr old boy who has asperger's and a LOVE of cables currently that will morph into a love of who knows what but it's a 90% or greater chance that it will be something electronics related/willingness to pay shipping that would benefit from such a program. I doubt you will have a problem finding homes for all of your misfit "toys".
VadoBanane said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Yay! Seems silly to throw out stuff that could be reused. I have a box of stepping motors taken out of old printers, some of which I have already reused.
Russ Nelson said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Well we're nothing so offical, too small of a town for that!..though we are working on a blog. We make alot of costumes and have been working on some modernistic steampunk things. A box of broken stuff would be great!
Salamane said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! So can individuals take this offer as well ? I would love to get a box of starter materials (some would call it broken junk) to play with.
Merdok said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Merdok, feel free to give the sign up form a shot, but I'll tell you right now we've gotten a lot of interest in this (lookin' at you, Make: Online) and we're going to try to prioritize educational groups. But we'll do our best to get to everyone, at least eventually. The good news is the borked stuff just keeps on coming!
CarrieGouldin said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! I have volunteered in the past at a summer camp called Camp Invention. One of the biggest events of the week is where the kids build things out of recycled materials and old electronics. While I'm from WI and could not drive there, I'm sure there's a local group that might be interested in your goodies. www.campinvention.org
sweet_girl3313 said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Great idea! I'm going to bug the robotics and other techie clubs at my brother's school to see if they're interested!
Rakey said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! I would like to use your broken things in an Iron Man fanfic. Tony Stark makes things out of A BOX OF THINK GEEK'S SCRAPS. Then again, I don't think you'd mind, would you?
Quiverby said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Some disassembly required! We here at the ATX Hackerspace <3 think geek and hope this whole programs takes off!
Meawoppl said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Any chance for USPS shipping? UPS fees can be pretty nästi for international folks :(
Shadyman said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! I feel discriminated against. Simply because the objective of my group is to take over the world. We cannot participate. Stupid good vs evil clause... mutter...
Zenock said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Great that project which could help new incomers into the electronics world. I´d be really thankfully for such an event here in Spain... With lot of projects in mind and so little chances of getting that kind of products... Un Saludo!!!
apolo8 said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! 1 - I love ThinkGeek! 2 - I love this idea! I work with kids at a Math & Science elementary school as part of a STEM partnership with my company. I would love to let them tinker with some of your broken junk!
cowbellkell said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! Dear ThinkGeek - this is an AWESOME idea. I think that a great many people can benefit from this. Bravo.
The Real FireFighterGeek said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! This is really cool, I can't wait to see what people receive, and what they end up using it on. Thanks TG!
FightCube said this 1248 days ago.
meaningless icon! I am a HS science teacher... any hints of things that may be useful (or made useful) for teaching science?
Chicago Native said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! Our group just submitted the form, we're not a hackerspace but an amateur (ham) radio club that does education in local schools to demonstrate the importance of science, technology, engineering and math skills. We've got a pretty good group going, even had one young techie that started studying for his amateur radio license at age 11 and was licensed by age 12. Thanks for the opportunity thinkgeek!
JeffCoRAC said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! how do i sign up? i practically THRIVE on other people's broken junk!
simon_C said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! Wow! How close to downtown Cbus are you? I work at COSI and this sounds right up our alley.
ravinraven718 said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! i also have no group...however im trying to convert others in my workplace to the ways of the hacker. i want to start running small workshops at m work or at college (umass) about basic hacks and warranty voiding.
johnus said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! Great that project which could help new incomers into the electronics world. I´d be really thankfully for such an event here in Spain... With lot of projects in mind and so little chances of getting that kind of products... Un Saludo!!!
apolo8 said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! I live in Cbus so if you need people to help ship stuff, let me know!
alyssahoman said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! I luv it.
imabaddude said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! our san bernadino college club would be able to offer more irems to give to people in need if we can repair it. we would be able to offer other college clubs the items for distribution. great idea guys.
arkwork said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! Free goodies? This isn't Sparta... this is defiantly madness..., and I love it! I'm a tinkering type of person, always love makin something that can be used by some one who can really use it! (granted, they must /need/ it first, and i never evah charge)
Tech5500X said this 1247 days ago.
meaningless icon! this is right up my alley how do i sign up would make a good addition to reusing computers from garbage day
imakestuffs said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! This is a fantastic idea...Geeks around the world need these opportunities. Myself, I have a small Independent Press and my editors are volunteers...I provide them with peripherals like printers and ink and other stuff...cost bucks...starving artists and all that!!! Thanks thinkgeek!!! This is a wonderful plan!!!
Kimberly Raiser said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! What a great way to deal with broken gadgets
Taronyu said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! For those of you who are sad, thinking you wont get any of these broken goodies, check your local craigslist listing under the FREE section!
shadowbot said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! Want this for myself, but ordering for FIRST Team 179, because I could share the fun.
Camitheninja said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! This is a great idea. I work for a large company that has a service department full of tinkerers who are always taking on side pojects. We often pick up old computers and such that aren't quite old and broken enough to be useless and more often than not end up fixing them and donating to one of the local charities we support I wish more companies would follow Thinkgeek's lead and offer the same access to their scrap material
Ramirez13 said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! I'm going to see if I can get my summer camp to approve paying for shipping. We're a nature oriented camp in Toronto, Canada and recycling things to make new things is one of the things we love to do, so this is brilliant! (But I still have to ask).
cookiegirl17 said this 1246 days ago.
meaningless icon! I really hope you go thru with this. My Maker's group could really benefit from this program. Love your store too.
Joyfarm6 said this 1245 days ago.
meaningless icon! Sweeeeet! Always on the look out for free...um...ahem. Junk! I put on rather large custom made holiday displays (ESPECIALLY HALLOWEEN!!!). I prefer to make my special FX with the help of friends, and salvaged parts galore. It's a community thing, you wouldn't understand :p All things go to good use, and what stripped parts are left over end up being recycled/reclaimed.
Raven's Hollow said this 1245 days ago.
meaningless icon! Brilliant idea! I'd sign my group up if only I wasn't the only tinkerer I knew... forever alone...
Xeromaru said this 1244 days ago.
meaningless icon! Here's an idea: There are charities in every city that accept items to be given out in Christmas hampers/to pediatric wards/etc. If a group local to a TG warehouse would be willing, they could sort out a number of a particular item that are each broken in a different way, and send them, along with boxes/packing/manuals/etc. to groups that will fix and donate them. Child's Play comes to mind for distribution/oversight, as does the Salvation Army. To prevent exploitation, I would stick to well established, well respected hacker/etc. groups for repairing items. For problems like broken covers, would it be possible to make a request to the manufacturer(s) for a replacement part?
DeadlyDad said this 1244 days ago.
meaningless icon! Some disassembly required! We here at the ATX Hackerspace <3 think geek and hope this whole programs takes off!
Meawoppl said this 1244 days ago.
meaningless icon! For those of us that are just normal people that like to tinker, I'd like to offer an idea similar to the OLPC thing. A normal person can buy a box of broken crap for the cost that it would take to ship two boxes. One box goes to the individual, one box gets donated to an organization that has chosen the "We could not pay for shipping..." option. Just an idea.
MarkusL said this 1242 days ago.
meaningless icon! Is it possible to do an OLPC-style "get one, give one" for individuals like me? I get a box and I pay for shipping so a box can be donated to a hackerspace?
MarkusL said this 1242 days ago.
meaningless icon! sign me up
dtelect said this 1240 days ago.
meaningless icon! Any idea how much the shipping would cost? I want to introduce this idea to my School HAM club/Robotics club (same people make up both groups). However, they'll probably want an idea on the shipping. Also, can we mix-n-match shipping and non-shipping? I drive through the area once a year myself and know someone who drives there occasionally on business who could pick it up sometimes. You get the picture...of course depending on shipping costs it might be cheaper just to make the drive from here 4 times a year. Anyway, I'll be bringing this up to those clubs. Peoples muckle tech is always welcome, it comes in handy not only for our personal projects,but for teaching others as well. Hoping next year to be going to some local schools and teaching them some electronics/hacking/robotics/radio goodness. This stuff could really come in handy.
Kaya Tetsu said this 1239 days ago.
meaningless icon! Cool. I am head of a high school group and we saw this link off the instructables blog and almost exploded. This is pretty cool. Is their a special way to register as a Educational group?
The Ultimate Answer said this 1235 days ago.
meaningless icon! glad to see there is an update - I hadn't heard anything yet (signed up our local hackerspace/electroincs ed center, BrainSilo), and now am really hoping to hear from you guys!
lokkju said this 1226 days ago.
meaningless icon! I want free stuff please I love tinkering with things!
Mattguy22 said this 355 days ago.
meaningless icon! This is only the greatest idea since like yesterday, I live in California I can cover shipping please sign me up... I promise to leave out these parts in my plot for world domination.. Can't promise I won't credit this opportunity..kidding please put me on the list
why's said this 278 days ago.

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