With copper prices going
through the roof, (they've more than doubled in the past year), I
may have discovered probably the easiest and quickest way to
salvage all the bare wire from old mini light sets that would
normally just end up in the trash. It's all 20 gauge wire,
which makes it's uses very limited, but since my display is 100% LED
it works for me.
Ok, Ok... So the rise in
copper prices isn't the real reason I've been stripping the old mini
sets before they hit the landfill. I just hate throwing
anything in the dumpster that I just may need someday,
(can you say pack-rat?),.
So, it may take me more
time to disassemble something for parts than just going out and
buying it, but bottom line....
Every dollar I save
salvaging something I may need, is a dollar in my pocket that I can
spend on more LED lights!
Old Mini light strings
Cut off the plugs
and save them. I used every single female plug I had been
saving for a couple of years for the plugs I needed for the
extra 200+ channels I added in 2006. Also, if you're going to
be cutting lots of wires, I recommend you buy one of the wire
cutters like the one in the above picture. Not only are they
great for cutting smaller gauge wire, but they are perfect for
cutting the bazillion cable ties we all tend to
Find the center of
the light string. Just look for two sockets somewhere near the
center of the string that have 3 wires attached to the
Close-up view of 3
Hook the center
portion of the light string around the locking struts of a
ladder. Or you could also hook them over the top of a dog
eared fence. Just make sure that the string can't turn while
you're un-twisting it.
Cut the 3 wire
socket off one of the lose ends of the string. Make sure you
cut straight across the wires, as it makes it easier to insert the
cut end into the drill.
Insert the end you
just cut off into the business end of a cordless drill and clamp the
chuck down tightly on the wires.
Determine which way
the light string is twisted. I'm directionally challenged, so
I simply hold the string a few inches away from the drill, turn it
on slowly, and watch whether the wires are getting tighter or
looser. Once you've determined the drill is going in the right
direction to untwist the strand, pull the strand fairly taunt and
It doesn't take a
whole lot of time for the strand to become untwisted, you can check
how well it's going by putting the drill down on the ground making
sure you keep a little tension on the strand.
untwisted the strand enough to easily separate the strand, cut the
wires at the 3 wire socket that's hooked to the ladder. Simply
follow the same steps for the other side of the strand
Toss all those
useless sockets in the trash and save all that wire for other
Remember this is
my site and my opinions, I'm not an expert at anything, if you have
questions or constructive comments e-mail me, and
finally, please don't post any of this information on the
TCL site or boards. Thanks!