Radio Shack parts. Remember the good old days?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by spinnaker, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. spinnaker

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
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    This thread made me think of the good old days when Radio Shack actually carried a decent collection of parts. We also had several suppliers of electronic components in our area. In addition, we had one store that sold surplus goods. I sure miss those days. WHen you needed something it was right at your fingertips.

    Of course we did not have the internet back then. An online catalog sure makes searching for parts a lot easier.

    And there is the fantastic resource of this forum. I think if I would have had this resouce back then I would have never have given up the hobby. And this forum was one of the main reasons I have renewed my interests in the hobby some 30 years after I gave it up. It started about a year or so ago then I dragged an old non working AM radio out of storage and thought I would like to make it work again. The great folks here helped me to troubleshoot and helped find some of the rare transistors in that old radio.

    Funny story about Radio Shack. Years ago I worked for a company. We were kind of slow and I decieded to try and fix a big stack of boards that had been sitting there for years and no one could fix.

    We knew it was some kind of timing issue but no one knew what. I knew we had just rented a scope that would help me trouble shoot the problem,

    To make a long story shorter I figured out what chip was causing the problem All the chips in stock displayed the same attributes but all were of the same manufacturer and batch number. So I assumed there was a problem with the whole batch. I popped in a chip I bought at Radio Shack and the board worked. Evey board I tried with that chip worked!

    I talked to our buyer to see if he could buy us some more chips. I told him, to make sure not to buy that batch number, in fact select a different manufacturer.

    Three months later, he comes to me and said "How many of those chips did you want"? Yesh! I reminded him again about the manufacturer on the chips.

    Another 2-3 months later I get my chips. Guess what? :) So I ran back to Radio Shack, bought every chip they had in stock and put it on my expense report. :)
     
  2. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    What is even more depressing is the quality of the knowledge this generation of Radio Shack employees have regarding anything near the component level.. They are not even aware of their stock, let alone what they do.


    "Do you carry MOSFETs?"

    "Is that a cellphone?"
     
  3. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    While I like Radio Shack in concept, they had a really bad reputation in the late 70's. Basically (so the stories went) they'd buy up barrels on chips that fell out (but were functional) and then resell them at 10X the price.

    I do think they have gotten better at quality. It's funny, I went in and bought some capacitors (I had forgotten to get earlier at my normal outlet). The stores shelves are growing parts again! I think the company is in trouble again, and they are trying to figure out how return to their roots. Hope I'm wrong, but they do seem to cycle.

    I've been trying to think how to reference parts that RS doesn't sell in my articles. Gotta figure something out, there are some simple projects that if I depended on RS for parts will never happen.
     
  4. spinnaker

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    I envy the forum members that have a good nearby ready source of parts. Also at places like these you have a source of knowledge too.

    I do have one place about 30 miles away but the store front only open weekdays 1PM to 5PM. And lately they are closed on Fridays (the only weekday I would have off).
     
  5. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    I empathize. I drive 25 miles one way to Tanner's. I do this about once a week or less. There is an internet store that is only open weekdays but is around 10 miles one way.

    When I was a kid Radio Shack was mostly it. There was another store that was for TV techs in the area called Trices. They are long gone from McAlaster I think.
     
  6. SgtWookie

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    Jul 17, 2007
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    I remember the old days; I'd spend a fair amount of time in Radio Shacks that were local to me. There weren't a lot of other options back then.

    As distributors came online, people started buying more and more from them rather than local stores. Warehouse space is pretty cheap compared to a retail outlet.

    In the 70's, there would usually be at least one salesperson who had some decent knowledge about electronics. Of course, there were customers who would bend the techie-types' ears for hours, and then hardly buy anything. It's pretty hard to keep the doors open on a business when you have a lot of fixed expenses and sales are slow.

    I bought a couple of CB radios back in '79 from the Shack; a base station and a mobile, both 40 channel SSB's. They still work great, and are a couple of the most desirable CB radios ever made.
     
  7. retched

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    With sparkFun doing 10mil in sales last year, and the makerFaire drawing 60 to 70 thousand people, Radio Shack would be "not-smart" to let this pass by.

    They already have the distribution.

    They have the power to buy in quantity.

    They could even salvage their name.
     
  8. JoeFromOzarks

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    Apr 14, 2010
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    Here's a picture that might make you crazy!! :)

    :) joe
     
  9. retched

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    WOW.. Made in Japan!

    That was a while ago...
     
  10. SgtWookie

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    Those are from the 60's - the orange packs, anyway ;)

    Measure their resistance now. You might be surprised to find out how much they've drifted over the years. I sure was.

    The old brown cylindrical resistors would drift a heck of a lot over time/temperature. I have some from the late 60's up to the early 80's that were supposedly mil-spec and very tight tolerance (1% or better) that are up to 40% off their original markings.

    The newer tan "dumbbell" carbon film resistors are far more stable than those antique brown cylindrical resistors. However, the high-value cylindrical resistors (>100k) make great forms for winding air coils on.
     
  11. Jaguarjoe

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    Apr 7, 2010
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    Olson Radio was my favorite. Used to ride the bus there after school. Always liked their surprise boxes.
    We had Summit Distributors for serious stuff.
     
  12. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    We had one of those in Dallas in the early 80's. Often wondered what happened to them.
     
  13. spinnaker

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    That is the name! I could not think of it. They were called Olson Electronics here. They had a lot of surplus goods.
     
  14. spinnaker

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    You are a glass half empty kind of guy right? :) I would be happy to have Tanner 30 miles away! :)

    As I said I have one small place 30 miles away. I think they do most of their business on the internet because they are hardly ever open anymore. But I don't see how they do that. Their selection is horrible.

    I did some searching a while back when I got into the hobby once again. I was excited to see we had an Allied Electronics in town. Turns out is is only a retail outlet.
     
  15. ModemHead

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    Nov 1, 2010
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  16. Blackbull

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    Jul 26, 2008
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    Radio Shack was called Tandy in the UK, they came to town in the early seventies, but folded some years ago. I purchased an electronic project kit, for my son’s education, you got a free torch with batteries with each purchase if you were prepared to queue long enough. I purchased an Archer soldering iron for about 2 pence it still works, while a Weller and $100 solder station have failed.
     
  17. tom66

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    May 9, 2009
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    Maplin is going a similar way in this country too, though at least they have techie staff and they still stock a decent selection of components in the Basingstoke store.
     
  18. Blackbull

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    Hopefully Maplin can survive with their other lines, there can’t be a fortune to made in the odd component. Our local store has only one techie. There is enough bad news. I didn’t want to lose my Junior status, and then to find out that fixed resistors can drift 40% - haven’t I got enough problems. How can I cure my addiction to this site.
     
  19. retched

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    Dec 5, 2009
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    Sorry my friend. Your screwed.

    You will only find true happiness when you stop fighting the urge and give up to the attraction that is forum.allaboutcircuits.com.

    There is no longer any help for you.

    I heard that AAC is available in heaven, and hell... So even in death you cannot escape your addiction.

    In heaven your parts bins are full and stocked.

    In hell, the parts bins are full of everything EXCEPT the IC you need.


    ;)
     
  20. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    I am thinking they are going to get back into parts big.

    The effect Make magazine has had on them is profound. They now have a "Project a Month" brochure out that has a simple circuit that can be made with all Radio Shack parts.

    I saw they had basic stamps there the last visit, so I am going to guess they will have a general purpose PIC and AVR soon, along with hex inverters and a lot of other "new common things", such as more SMD friendly items.

    The components went away when surface mount emerged, making it nearly impossible for a hobbyist to try to repair their own stuff. Now that everything is essentially disposable, it seems all of the people that would tinker with fixing, are now tinkering with making things that blink or make noise or plug into a USB port.

    If they don't do it, I see them dying. They cannot compete with company cell phone stores on phones, they can't compete with Best Buy on stereo/audio/etc, so they need to fall back onto "new old ways", including KITS!
     
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