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What's in the magical, mysterious, box of crappy surplus?


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#1 ItsDan

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:01 AM

The “Box of Crappy Surplus”, or BOCS, is a fun, community building experiment based on The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk for Netduino community members. The premise is simple, as electronics enthusiasts, makers, tweakers and tinkerers we all develop small stockpiles of near-worthless junk. Not trash mind you, but the miscellaneous bits and pieces of projects long forgotten and put away. A handful of screws, the wheel bearings that didn’t quite fit your robot, the bag of resistors that turned out to be not quite the right value. If anyone is as much of a pack-rat as me you likely have boxes of this type of stuff, too wasteful to throw away, too few to try selling on eBay.

The BOCS is, as TGIMBoEJ puts it, a ‘mobile lending library’ of components. Unlike some other similar boxes we’ll provide slightly more structure. The goal is to send the box in multiple loops, back and forth across the USA. Each person who registers will receive the box in random order, and be responsible for sending the box to the next person. Flat rate boxes from the USPS keep shipping costs to a minimum and there will be no other costs to participate. Cost for a medium sized box will be approximately $10.50 and supports up to 20 pounds, labels can be easily printed from the USPS website. If the box grows too large we’ll need a ‘large’ box which will cost closer to $15.00 to ship domestically.

Rules are less important than fun, but some guidelines are below:

What can I expect to find in the BOCS? What should I put in?
The ‘theme’ of the box is electronics and general ‘maker’ materials. Resistors, switches, buttons, wires, wheels, screws, gears, integrated circuits, small hand tools, interconnects, and who knows what else are things you could find in the box, plus anything someone along the chain thinks you might find useful. I’d prefer people use their imagination and put anything they thing another maker could find useful in the box than to create a list of ‘expected’ items.All USPS regulations regarding priority mail service should be followed, and common sense should be used. Let’s avoid batteries which could short out, liquids which could spill, and things of that nature as we..

How much can I take from the BOCS? How much must I contribute?
There’s again no particular rules here. A sheet will accompany the box that we ask all people to briefly note what they took and contributed. A general rule is to replace what you take with something equally “cool”. I think if we all concern ourselves with monetary value of items then the point of the box will be lost. If you think you can use the item, or a few items, take them. We want this to be a community project so we do ask that you update us regarding any cool things you build with box items.

Who do I send the BOCS to when I’m done?
To try and maintain some semblance of privacy, each person will receive via email the address of the next person on the chain. We’ll also try and confirm all addresses prior to shipping to reduce the chances that the box is “lost” at an out of date address.


At this time we'll only be accepting community members from the USA in order to keep postal rates consistent and cheap. Future rounds may (and likely will) go outside the USA.

Okay, I want to participate, what happens next?

We’re (mostly) keeping it to Netduino community members. Visit this thread to look for any updates to the rules. Post a message indicating that you'd like to receive the box, I'll tally usernames until we have enough. Once the box is ready to go, I'll contact all members via the forums to get mailing information. Your address will only go to the person who sends the box to you.

What do I do when I receive the box?

First, take some free stuff! Try to only take items you think you can use, and the key here is for everyone to take what they think is fair. Put some items in the box that you no longer need. The items can be anything ‘maker’ related, can be new or used, so long as they’re functional. If there are multiple parts to a single item make sure they’ll stay together by using a small ziplock bag. Make sure to label what the item is if it’s not obvious, might as well throw your screen name on the label so whoever receives it knows who to thank!

Update the box status, use this forum thread you used to signup, that’s where we’ll update community participation. Or contact me directly and I can do so for you. This is about community building, so let us know what items you kept and what you have in mind for them!

Finally, check your email/forum PM’s/whatever, I’ll have sent you the address you’re meant to send the box to next. If I didn’t, make sure you ask, we don’t want the box to get stuck or lost. Print a label at USPS’s website, slap it on the box, and bring it to any post office.

That’s it! If all goes well will do this multiple times, growing the list each time. We’re limiting this first round to personal friends, and Netduino community members. Anyone with positive or neutral forum standing who has been a member for at least 60 days can ask to be on the list. The first 20 members who asked to be included will be on this initial round.

For any questions please feel free to send me a PM here.
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#2 Arron Chapman

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 02:50 AM

I gotta' say, trying to get this moving has been a bit of fun, and I look forward to getting to box.

For everyone who thinks they don't have anything to contribute, ANYTHING will do. Among other things I plan to toss in some Caps, resistors, a few transistors and maybe even some diodes. I have some mystery (they are labeled and datasheets can be found but IDK what they are for) ICs that might make it in the box. I might even have a hobby motor or two. I don't expect to get much out of it (at least in term of dollar value) but I'm looking forward to finding something cool I can play with. Remember that $$ isn't the object of this, its finding cool or useful stuff, and passing along some cool stuff that you'r not using.

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#3 Chris Walker

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 02:54 AM

Hey Dan, Please send the box my way. We'll be happy to add some useful parts :) This is a pretty cool concept. Chris

#4 Mario Vernari

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 03:38 AM

This is a pretty cool concept.

So, you would appreciate the Junk Yard initiative by Inquisitor, so -please- make it sticky!
Thanks.
Biggest fault of Netduino? It runs by electricity.

#5 ItsDan

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:09 AM

Don't worry about sending a mailing address yet. I'll contact the list members prior to the box being sent out. So just express your interest here and I'll record it.
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#6 KodeDaemon

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 08:09 PM

I hereby express my interest in this endeavor.

#7 Moskus

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:24 AM

This is a great idea. It's too bad Norway is too far away (and I don't see that package comming easily through customs) , but perhaps I'll try do to something like it around here. :)

#8 liqdfire

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:19 PM

I would love to be on the list, and have a fair bit of stuff I can add; though, I do not quite meet the 60 day rule as specified in the original post.

#9 ItsDan

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:22 PM

liqdfire, I think it may end up being okay. We have a good number of people but not the ~20 I was aiming for, so unless there's a rush we'll probably open it up for more people.
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#10 Christoc

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 09:38 PM

I've always wondered what to use www.boxofstuff.com for, this could provide an interesting use for the domain name.

View my blog at ChrisHammond.com

Projects: Netduino Tank/Tracked Vehicle, DNNFoos, Random other bits


#11 ItsDan

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:16 PM

If this goes a round or two I'd love to develop it into a service. I'm hardly the first one to do such a thing, but it looks like most existing projects rely on wikis or forum updates, which makes it hard to do neat stuff like google maps based visualization of the trip the box went on.
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#12 Kriss

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:26 PM

Sounds like such a box is easily made from the remains of a ham/computer fest. It is amazing what people force upon you when you recognize equipment and you don't run away quick enough when they quote the "if you recognize it you must take it" disposal rule.
Have you tried to Google the problem first?

#13 liqdfire

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 03:01 AM

Well today was an interesting day, a buddy of mine is the owner of a business that has been making communications devices for about 25 years; well he is moving out of his office and gave me a tone of stuff he has sitting around.

I ended up with 2 or 3 boxesof miscellaneous project cases, one such case was 2' x 4' by 1/4" solid cast aluminium with a sealing or ring for the lid....

I also ended up with a case of Cardian Data Terminals Discovery 500
Posted Image

What a day for a digital hoarder...

Give me a few days and I will probably post a thread giving some of it away.

#14 Fabien Royer

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 06:33 AM

Count me in too. This is like GeoCaching for Netduino geeks! Except that the cache comes to you.... ! I love it :) Cheers, -Fabien.

#15 stan4th

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 07:33 AM

Hi, wonder whether this could be something those of not in the US could set up independently in other countries? I don't know how many member there are in each country outside the US, so don't know whether this would be practical in say the UK. Any thoughts? Cheers

#16 ItsDan

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 08:45 PM

Stan, in my original post I mention an ongoing project that includes boxes worldwide, and there's been some interest from European members. My current limitation of being US only is so we can use flat rate postage in the US. Once we know this 'works' we could certainly have one person responsible for sending it abroad. Perhaps if a community member wants to start another box we could 'swap' boxes down the road.

I started packing a box today, so far the types of items being added are:

  • Misc Switches
  • numerous solenoids
  • set of plastic calipers
  • audio jacks
  • panel mound LEDs
  • sound/video card
  • AMD processor (1700+)
  • usb fingerprint scanner
  • stepper motors
  • gears
  • solderless terminals
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc

Want the contents to be a little bit of a surprise and obviously they'll change at each step. Arron(UnkwnTech) and I have opened it up a little bit to people we know to try and get a minimum of 15 or so members. So if you're interested or just curious about participating please speak up!
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#17 JonnyBoats

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 12:11 AM

I am definitely interested and would like to participate :-) Would anyone else be interested in having "box opening parties"? My thought is that a bunch of us could get together at a house, hackerspace or restaurant and all open the box together. We would all bring stuff to swap as well and then put our extra stuff into the box before sending it on to it's next destination. Not only would this save on shipping, but would be lots more fun to share the excitement with others. It would be educational as well in that instead of simply taking something out of the box and wondering "what could this be", there is a good chance that someone else would recognize it and perhaps say "oh, that's a switch from the from panel of a DEC PDP 8 just like I used to work on in college". I am in Northwest Maine, and would welcome any Netduino fan to my house anytime if you want to come by and "play" Netduino. For the box however perhaps Portland, Maine or Portsmouth, NH would be a more convenient place for a Netduino fan club get-together?

#18 ItsDan

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 03:05 PM

JonnyBoats, that's a really cool idea, and I bet a great way to 'cycle' out a bunch of the items all at once and get all new stuff. Perhaps some kind of 'hacker/maker' challenge for resolving situations where people want the same items, or a low-bid auction system with proceeds going to a local charity, I don't know lots of options. So far we have on the list: ItsDan, UnkwnTech, Chris Walker, KodeDaemon, liqdfire, Fabien Royer, JonnyBoats. Arron and I probably have 1-3 people each we could add but I'd prefer community members. I actually ordered the medium size flat rate boxes from the USPS which got shipped today (yes I know I could just pick them up but my local post office doesn't stay well-stocked). My hope is to pack the box and mail it this weekend to the first recipient. So if you want in speak up!
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box

#19 Christoc

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:27 AM

I'm in too, I'll gladly host a Bay Area opening party as well.

View my blog at ChrisHammond.com

Projects: Netduino Tank/Tracked Vehicle, DNNFoos, Random other bits


#20 ItsDan

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:29 PM

Cristoc, welcome to the list! We have 9 confirmed members, with a few deciding. I still plan to assemble the box this weekend, I'll contact people via PM shortly or if anyone wants to be proactive and contact me with your preferred mailing address. Active community member Terry Massey has also joined the list although hasn't mentioned it in the thread. List currently stands at: ItsDan, UnkwnTech, Chris Walker, KodeDaemon, liqdfire, Fabien Royer, JonnyBoats, Christoc, Terry Massey.
Follow the adventures of the Box of Crappy Surplus

Total BOCS Traveled Distance: 9708 miles | States Visited: 5
Track the Box




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