Giving up on Radio Shack

Discussion in 'Feedback and Suggestions' started by Wendy, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    I'm putting this thread here because it concerns the articles I write.

    When I started this I followed the existing convention and used Radio Shack parts when practical. Problem is, the Shack has gotten out of the old digital parts market (and other components) many years ago, almost a decade. On the simple projects I may still use them, but for anything advanced it is ludicrous. It only points out how bad they have gotten.

    So I'm thinking of listing parts with a different vendor. I like Mouser, Digikey, and BG Micro. Mouser is in front I'm thinking. Having a vendor that carries parts is a nice feature for the readers, especially when they were everywhere like Radio Shack still seems to be.

    I could also leave the vendor off completely, and let the user research where to get parts. This is a form of advertising in my mind that the eBook may not need or want. It simplifies my writing a lot, which I'm in favor of.

    What got me thinking about this is the digital clock articles I've started. I'll be using chips that are going to be hard to get for some people. Listing a vendor (even if it is in the USA) would help them with their projects.

    What is other peoples take on this?
     
  2. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    1,425
    363
    This is not an endorsement, but Element14 (Farnell/Newark) seems to be the most universally available internationally.
     
  3. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    I've never used them. I have used Newark when I was a Machine Maintenance Tech, but that was over a decade ago.

    *************

    Just tried their search function. I think they have lost this round. Keywords CMOS, 4013, CD4013 and CD 4013 failed to turn up any components close to what I would need. PICs are OK, but they should not be the entire stable of electronics. I know Jameco would do a better job right up front.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  4. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    15,815
    282
    In 1970 I found RS selling bags of flatpack carriers (remember them?) as IC sockets. I may have bought a couple of toggle switches since then, but the outfit is best avoided.
     
  5. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    I hear you. I have better locally, but I still occasionally go there to buy something quick and dirty. However, if you look at the experiments section you will find they are the standard. I suspect the age of the book is showing itself, Radio Shack has been the victim of both bad marketing and accountants (the latter kill more companies than the economy over the long haul). They loose their focus, come back, loose it, repeat, and then wonder why their reputation is not very good.

    Accountants never understand why you need experienced sales people. They managed to hit both Home Depot and Lowe's by cutting corners on staff, damaging them fairly badly. Circuit City never did recover when they laid off everyone with experience and left the new people because they cost less.

    It could be argued convincingly that no vendor recommendation is needed for the AAC book. If someone needs a part they can search on the web with an ease that didn't exist 15 years ago, and forums like this have people who are more than willing to help find parts. It is where I am leaning at the moment.

    Wonder what Dennis's take on this would be?
     
  6. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    1,425
    363
    Element14 has a lame website and if you do searches for parts on their landing page you get nothing. You have to click on the store first. I often use Jameco for small orders since I'm close so standard delivery gets to me in 1 day.

    I've never gotten much out of vendor specific BOMs listed with small projects. Just give me the general specifications and I'll find it. Extra detail would be useful for parts that have unique or critical specifications though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  7. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
    12,440
    3,361
    My vote would be to keep vendor endorsement off. This is an international site and vendors are different in every country. It is best to stick with commonly available components and stay away from specialty items. If someone wants to post an elegant solution using a special chip, that's ok too. Anyone interested can search for it or can create their own substitutes. It's the design ideas that matter.

    If it's an item like that Radio Shack 7-color LED, do us a favor and post the link to the data sheet. Better yet, try it out yourself and give us the lowdown.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  8. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    You have to remember something, this is for a paper book. I can add links, but they will be lost in translation.
     
  9. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
    16,284
    6,797
    Radio Shack is still OK for a few resistors or a video connector.
    There are 3 within 2 miles of me.
    They seem to sell phones, which I don't use (cell phones, that is).
    The other subjects seem to be well covered here.
    Their staff is useless.
    Their stock is sparse and low quality.
    I don't recommend them.
    I don't think you should.
     
  10. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    If it is simple, and they have the parts I will. If it is complex I won't. It is handy having a reference to be able to give people to give. Far as I can tell Radio Shack is (was?) unique, I don't think they were aware how unique. I can't think of any other brick and mortor stores that had their product line, or still does. Fry's Electronics doesn't come close to the coverage, maybe someday they will.

    I wondering if they will drop the 555 and op amps. They seem to love the 741, but then so do schools.
     
  11. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
    5,142
    1,266
    Market can be a strange beast sometimes. Here in Greece, the most complete electronics supplier I have found so far is a small 3m by 10m hole held by a family.

    It has anything I could ever need, from common resistors to benchtop supplies (on demand) and in pretty good prices. The only thing it doesn't have and it bugs me is jumper wires.

    Jumper wires, oh how I miss you...
     
  12. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    2,648
    763
    ...one of the Sim Lim towers in Singapore. Hundreds of mini shops (really mini) carrying a variety never found in other part of the world. Not even China or Japan, (at least as per my personal experience).

    I had time to be there twice (20 years ago, two days waiting for our flight to Hong Kong) after signing off as Master of my last vessel.

    I was so much stunned by the incredible offer that I managed to buy only some CA3086 and maybe something else. What an idiot me!

    BTW, when you are done with components, just cross the street and go to the other tower: an overwhelming offer of finished electronics products from calculators to audio and so on. Wow!
     
  13. RiJoRI

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    536
    26
    I used to use Radio Shack, but I never went by their part number. I'd go looking for a pack of 1/4W 1000-Ohm resistors (or whatever). I guess finding the part number, then taking off my glasses to read the itsy-bitsy print just wasn't worth the effort. And I knew that if they didn't have a 100K resistor, I could get by with two 47Ks.

    You may want to have an appendix with contact information for different vendors: Name, Address, Phone, URL. Just notify the reader that this is not a comprehensive list.

    --Rich
     
  14. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    7,388
    1,605
    I've been in this game long enough to remember Radio Shack devoting a significant ammount of floor space to simple component parts, boards (now obsolete, but complete plug in ISA protocards!) tons of digital and analog ICs, wire wrap tools & wire, enough to do some very advances projects. In those days there were several Mom & Pop shops too that filled the (BIG) voids. Lately even the ghost of Active Electronics (huge walk-in parts store) has passed beyond this world.

    But as long as the Shack still has a few popular parts I will suggest them here first to a USA poster, as they are everywhere and I'd still rather drive a few miles then try to flesh out a minimum order with any mail order distributor.

    My first choice for a mail order distributor is Digi Key, bar none. If they don't carry it I see if I can substitute in my design to something they do carry. That's for both personal and professional use.
     
  15. justtrying

    Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
    329
    350
    Coming from somebody who is just starting, it is a useful piece of information. I do not think it will be viewed as an endorsement of the company. I find that between Digikey and Newark, many parts can be obtained. It is good to provide a reference point. I've tried radioshack, but they have nothing. Luckily there is a very good electronics store close to where I live - RP electronics, they also ship worldwide. I like buying in person because I can be sure I got the right thing - I recently ordered pots with wrong footprint from digikey because of messed up order numbers...
     
  16. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
    3,789
    945
    Hey Bill, I've not seen you mention Allied Electronics. Local to you actually. I use them almost exclusively since they are just a one day ship to most of Texas. They seem to have just about everything Newark and Digikey have and sometimes are asking a little less for it, but not always.
    www.alliedelec.com \

    There is one Radio shack in SugarLand that seems to be much better stocked than most with almost every item electronic part they have in their catalog. I visit them often, and browse. They are almost next door to a Halfprice books store. :)
     
  17. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
    1,513
    193
    I used to work for RadioShack, about 10 years ago. Yes, unfortunately they carry very little in the way of ICs and such compared to years ago. They seem to have decided to attempt to slowly try to appeal to hobbyists again though as bigger stores now carry Velleman electronic kits and Basic Stamp Starter kits.

    Before discounting them entirely, please note there are generally two sizes of stores - big and small. Typically, big stores are found in strip malls, small ones in malls, but this is not a rule of thumb. Why is this important? Big stores carry almost double the inventory of electronics parts. You can determine this by going to the parts section and looking at the number of parts cabinets. Small stores will only have two cabinets, big ones have four. So, if you're looking for parts and only see two cabinets, look for a store with four before giving up completely on the Shack. Also note the electronic kits may not be located near the parts, so if you're looking for these, look around the whole store - again, small stores with only two parts cabinets probably won't have these.

    Personally, I like wandering and seeing what new things are available from time to time but do most of my purchasing online as it is generally cheaper. However, if you need something in a hurry, like a switch or some resistors and LEDs, a big store may well have what you need.

    I loved working there back in the day, especially the art students who wanted to add electronics to their projects or the kid who wanted to do something different for his or her science fair project. Once a kid came in with his mother who wanted to create a motion-activated faucet. I told him how to do this with a pump and faucet from the hardware store next door and a PIR sensor we sold. Unfortunately, I was a little too detailed in my explanation, because the mother and son looked at each other afterwards and said they'd find something less complicated to do. Sigh . . .

    I even had fun matching rechargeable phones batteries and showing people on paper how to wire up their home entertainment centers. Unfortunately, while these things had relatively high mark-ups which is great profit-wise, people didn't usually spend much more than $30 at a time. The "big" items were cellphones, long-distance plans (at the time), and similar things. Of course, I all but refused to ask every single customer if they wanted a new cellphone, especially regulars, so I didn't make as much nor was cherished much by corporate. Thankfully, my coworkers, who had no interest in selling parts, left most of those customers to me and most of my immediate supervisors left me to my own devices. I'll tell you no store was as cleaned and organized as any I worked in. Sorry, just reminiscing . . .
     
  18. CraigHB

    Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    127
    15
    I think Radio Shack was once a go to place for hobbyists, but they've had to do what they think they need to survive. Though, I think they could have done that without giving up all their component inventory. The bean counters run the world.

    I mainly use Mouser and Digikey. Sometimes Newark if nothing else. Mouser has a vastly superior online catalog and search so I usually go to them first. I find Dikigkey's online catalog painful at best, but I'll use it when Mouser lacks hits on stock.

    I've used Allied electronics before. They're a division of RS Components which is a huge electronics distributor. However, they have a pretty miserable online catalog.

    There's one electronics shop in my town beside RS. They're better than the Shack, but that's not saying much.
     
  19. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    If I'm going to mail order it will from Mouser's. The several times I've used them I've received my parts in under 24 hours, which is extraordinary.

    I'll continue to use Radio Shack where I can, but I'm not going to let them rule quite so much. Like you've all said, they used to have a decent stock of parts, but the accountants have long ruined that, so now I have to go elsewhere.
     
  20. CraigHB

    Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    127
    15
    You're in the prefect local for Mouser. I think they ship from Dallas or close to there. Hehe, you could probably drop by their warehouse for willcall.
     
Loading...