Welcome to geek heaven

<p>Housed in one of the historic buildings at Fort Douglas, now part of the University of Utah, is a mecca for electronics buffs, collectors who can buy a piece of vintage tech from the same school attended by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Adobe co-founder John Warnock and Pixar co-founder Edwin Catmull.</p> <p>It's also a potential goldmine for people simply looking to save big on computer cast-offs. The University Public Salvage depot is the last stop for departmental equipment before it heads off to the recycler.</p> <p>"I've bought equipment for $50 or less that sells new for $1,000," Mario Hieb, a broadcast engineer and our guide through this dusty trove of gadgetry, said. He said he's found some great equipment for pennies on the dollar because sometimes the university people don't know what it is when they set prices. But items are just as likely to be overpriced. "Do a little research online before you go," he said.</p> <p>Campuses across the country operate similar facilities. Some colleges offer limited hours for the public, so check before you go.</p> <p>Like any other secondhand stores, the more you go, the better your chances of finding something special. Shortly after we arrived, a hulk of a man dressed in the university's crimson-colored cap, t-shirt and shorts rushed past, grinning.</p> <p>"I got my hunk of Mac metal," he said, carrying a Power Mac G5, circa 2005.</p> <p>However, small accessories such as keyboards and mice are always in stock and available for as little as $1. Here are some of our favorite finds — the practical and the whimsical.</p>

Monitors

<p>All 15-inch and 17-inch LCD monitors were priced at $20 and most were the old-style square (4:3 aspect ratio). Customers can take equipment to a workbench in a corner of the store to test items before they buy. Here, there are no returns and all items are marked "as is."</p>

Laptops

<p>Most laptops were priced from $60 to $80. I found one with a Vista label, but the others were XP, which means they were at least five years old. But don't think you'll be running home with your new purchase and booting up — all hard drives have been removed, a recent policy change at the University.</p> <p>Hieb shrugged off the news and said it was easy to buy a hard drive on Newegg and install it yourself, flipping over one of the units to show me the cover to unscrew and gain access. A new internal drive could double (or more) the price of your laptop, but you could still end up with a useful device for under $200.</p>

Keyboards and mice

<p>We found an entire shelf of unopened keyboards for $5 apiece and a jumble of mice could be bought for $1 each.</p>

Remote graveyard

<p>A waist-high box stood at the end of an aisle filled with remotes. If you've given up finding yours at home, you might just find a match here. And, they're free.</p>

DVD players

<p>Streaming media may someday make DVDs obsolete, but they're not dead yet. We found stacks of DVD players for around $25 each.</p>

Printers and copiers

<p>Printers are one of those items that are usually priced at huge savings over buying new, Hieb said. He found a $100 HP laser printer that retailed for around $500. But if you need a photo printer or just a simple all-in-one printer for home use, you'll find them for $50 or less. Even ink cartridges were available. Hieb snapped up one for $10, saying he'd pay $80 at Staples. We also saw an alcove stuffed with full-size copiers; prices were not available.</p>

Tripods

<p>Need a tripod for your DSLR camera? You can pick one up for around $5 or pay more ($20) for a super-sturdy vintage one.</p>

Vintage

<p>Not everyone is looking for practical gadgets at the Surplus. Hieb continues to search for vintage microphones to add to his collection. He struck out on this trip. But he did find a 6-foot varnished table for $50 that he said will be perfect for his workshop.</p> <p>Pictured from left, clockwise: Walkie-talkie, stage lights, movie reels, leather chairs, electric typewriter.</p>

Mystery items

<p>You can count on seeing items that you can't identify, like obscure medical equipment. This intriguing red box with its stainless steel ball chains attachments stumped our expert, Hieb. "But that's the fun of it," he said. "You never know what you'll find."</p> <p>More for geeks: </p><a href="http://http://www.technewsdaily.com/4585-best-retro-olympic-video-game-compilations.html">"Best Retro Olympic Video Game Compilations"</a></p> <p><a href="http://http://www.technewsdaily.com/4547-nasa-app-puts-spacecraft-in-palm-of-your-hand.html">"NASA App Puts Spacecraft in Palm of Your Hand"</a></p> <p><a href="http://http://www.technewsdaily.com/4537-embargoed-law-enforcement-tracks-real-phones-phony-cell-towers.html">"Law Enforcement Tracks Phones With Phony Cell Towers"</a></p>

University Surplus Store Reveals Geek Treasures