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Contribute equipment & parts

You can help Toronto Free-Net by contributing your old equipment and by keeping an eye open for equipment that others may be discarding.

Contact TFN or just drop off your contributions at TFN's Bay & Dundas office, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 pm.

List of wanted equipment.

It is impossible to provide a complete list of TFN's equipment needs, so TFN welcomes all computer & communications equipment, tools, and parts, then recycles what it cannot use.

Nevertheless, the following are currently specifically wanted:

16/Sep/2012 last reviewed & updated for accuracy.
19/Sep/2012 last edited. 


Datacenter equipment

  • cisco routers.
  • cisco router fibre modules.
  • cisco router octal cables (8 cables join into one connector).
  • DSLAMs, most brands.
  • Ethernet switches, any brand.

Other communications equipment

  • serial terminals
    (look for a keyboard that plugs directly into a monitor).
  • SDSL modems.
  • ADSL modems.
  • external dialup modems.

Office equipment

  • Nortel office telephones for 2 or more phone lines, with conferencing speaker.
  • telephone head-sets.


General & construction tools

  • tweezers.
  • screwdrivers: flat, Philips, Robertson.
  • pliers and needle-nose pliers.
  • cutters for thick cable.
  • wire strippers.
  • sharp blades.
  • measuring tape 6' and >= 25'.
  • staple guns.
  • flashlights, especially high-powered ones.
  • flashlights that mount on a hard-hat or on one's bare head (you will tend to find the latter amongst medical supplies).

Power tools

  • power screwdriver.
  • power drill, variable speed.
  • hammer drill.
  • drill bits (common and masonry).
  • hole saws.

Tools for electrical work

  • electrical screwdriver
    (these are manual screwdrivers that contain a lamp, which lights up in the presence of AC voltage).
  • portable watt-meter (measures power consumption).
  • multimeters (volt-ohm, etc).

Telecom tools

  • wire-tracing kits (i.e. tone generator + probe).
  • punch-down tools.
  • clip-on phones
    (aka butt-sets — ruggedized 1-piece phones for testing telephone service).
  • line testers
    (devices that test ADSL connections, amongst other things).


Computer parts

  • RAM: PC133, DDR, DDR2.
  • SATA hard drives, 0.5 TB or bigger.
  • IDE hard drives, 200 GB or bigger.
  • dialup modem cards.
  • PCI cards that provide voice telephone functions.
  • antistatic bags.

Electrical & electronics parts

  • aligator clips.
  • wire and cable connectors of all kinds.
  • wire pieces.
  • resistors.
  • capacitors.
  • diodes.
  • LEDs.
  • transistors.
  • relays.

Cables and connectors

  • gender-changers of all kinds.
  • household telephone extension cords.
  • Ethernet patch cords
    (short lengths of cable with plugs on both ends that look just like telephone plugs but are slightly wider, so they won't fit into a regular telephone outlet.  These plugs are called 8-position, 8-conductor modular connectors, abbreviated to 8p8c.  Some people call them "RJ45 plugs", which is the name of a telephone standard that used them).
  • RS-232 null-modem cables with female DE9 connector on both sides
    (female DE9 has a D-shaped cross-section with 9 holes: 5 on top, 4 below).
  • RS-232 DE9 to USB cables.
  • RS-232 null-modem cables with female DE9 connector on one side and modular 8p8c ("RJ45") plug on the other side.

Raw cable

  • Ethernet cable, plenum rated
    (look for 8 wires inside and "CMP" printed on the cable).
  • unsheathed telephone patch wires
    (look for a pair of wires, twisted around each other, often coloured yellow, blue, or white.  One wire in the pair may have a coloured stripe).
  • residential, 2-twisted-pair telephone cable
    (that's 4 wires, in a cable that is round, not flat).
  • telephone cable, 25-pair, rated riser or better
    (look for "CMR" or, better, "CMP" printed on the cable).
  • telephone cable, 25-pair, for outdoor suspension (it is thick and tar-black).

Household stuff

Old telephone fixtures (for classroom props — need not work).

  • telephone wall sockets.
  • telephone indoor junctions
    (typically small grey boxes, an inch or two tall, used for telephone wires but having no telephone socket).
  • pieces of outdoor telephone cable.
  • telephone NIDs (Network Interface Devices)
    (there are many varieties, some indoor, some outdoor.  The outdoor cable from the telephone company terminates there.  Outdoor NIDs are typically grey non-descript plastic boxes held closed by a screw).


  • doorbell parts.
  • cotton rags (eg old T-shirts).

Not equipment


  • books on technologies fundamental to our business — telecommunications, networking, unix, programming, systems administration.  Especially older books and books that cover a topic in depth.
  • manuals for modems and routers of any kind.
  • books about the Internet.  books that teach disciplines needed in business — marketing, graphic design, copywriting, sales, accounting, management, corporate law.
  • books on other technologies and crafts — electronics, wireless, handiwork, repairs.  These topics aren't of direct use to TFN but they tend to interest TFN people.
  • other books for our library's eclectic corner — anything you would recommend as worthwhile reading — philosophy, history, Canadiana, fiction.

How TFN chooses parts.

Some TFN projects are driven by need.  For example, a community organization may ask us to build a redundant secure connection between two offices.  Or TFN's growth may necessitate adding another core router to spread the load.  These situations require very specific parts.  If we are lucky, those parts are already in our stock, previously donated or found by TFN members.  If not, we purchase.  Some needs can be predicted years in advance, and we try to plan ahead.

Other TFN projects are started or are driven by opportunity: they explore whichever direction is made possible by parts which TFN has in abundance.

TFN volunteers review the parts we receive, and identify items that could be put to use by TFN.  If no one at TFN can think of a way to use a part now or in the future, we send the part to Free Geek Toronto.

We try hard to reuse.  This benefits the planet as well as TFN's budget.  There is a balance between the need for reliability and the desire to reduce electronic waste and costs.  In our production networks, we do not compromise on reliability.  But with careful long-term planning, and with the community's participation, it is often possible to save money without compromising.

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