Thrift stores and obsolete technology

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Do you guys shop at thrift stores? If not, you should. You would be surprised what people get rid of, and how cheaply you can buy it.


    BOOKS! Check out the prices of these books:
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    They didn't have a whole lot of books that fit my interests (electronics, metalworking, aquaponics) but big name bookstores don't usually either. I bought these, as they have been recommended to me a few times by different people, including on this forum (they only charged me 1$ for the gardening book b/c it was a little beat up):
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    There are 4 rows like the one shown below, full of books at my local thrift store. More books than some small bookstores, and not one of them costs over 1.75$. I saw some books there with sticker price >90$, and selling for $1.75. I guess people are purging their bookshelves with the advent of the kindle and other digital readers. And no, they aren't all old, outdated books with coffee stains. Actually the gardening books I bought was the worst looking one on the shelves.
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    I know just about everybody thumbs their nose as VHS these days, but why? It's still a viable way watch movies. There was a 30" CRT TV for $20, a VHS player for $9, and all these VHS tapes (4 rows like the one shown), selling at 4 for $1. 4 for $1!! People are throwing VHS tapes out with the trash; they're still good! And now, thank goodness for bluerays; in another year or so I'll be buying DVDs at the same bargain prices!
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    I already have a tv and tape player (revived from someone else's curbside) so I just got some tapes for the kids:
    [​IMG]


    They also have more clothes than most small department stores, and selling for pennies on the dollar. Again, in very good shape (most) and not obviously second hand. They are in better shape than what's in my closet.
     
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  2. gerty

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    They are also a good source of wall warts..
     
  3. #12

    Expert

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    I got an Amprobe brand amp-clamp for $10:D

    Then my nephew goes in and buys a couple of am-fm stereos with video switching circuits and hockey puck output amps, and asks me to repair them. BS! I do not want to spend 3 or 4 days diagnosing machines with leaky filter caps, bad output amps, sticky push-button switches that don't make contact half the time, and then find out that I can't get new front panel switches. WTF is he thinking?!! He saves $300 on a stereo and I spend $700 worth of time failing to fix them?

    OK. There's the other side of the story. Thank you for the opportunity to have a rant.

    ps, the stereos are now waiting at the curb in a trash can.
     
  4. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    Sounds like a "teaching opportunity" for your cousin. Arm him with an ESR checker and turn him loose.

    Who knows, if he gets good at it, and rely on you as a paid consultant in the future, he could be refurbishing equipment to bring back memories for some weathly person willing to pay.
     
  5. vortmax

    Member

    Oct 10, 2012
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    I stop by mine every now and then to look for salvageable electronics. I've found a few interesting things, like some old electric range main boards which were all on .1" through-hole board. I managed to scavenge some 7 segment displays, push buttons and other random parts and IC's for about $2.

    My best find though came when I was checking out and I happened to overhear the lady in front of me returning a Leappad because it had a broken screen. When I got up to the register, I asked the lady what they would do with it, then offered them $5. I wasn't sure what the specs were, but I figured $5 was worth the gamble. Turns out it's a small ARM proc running eLinux and has UART, SD and NAND connections populated to a card slot and labeled I2C pads on the board. It also works just fine, minus the touch screen. I'm thinking about building some DSP cards and turning it into a modular test and measure device.
     
  6. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    2 weeks ago when I was there, I saw a vintage craftsman 12" radial arm saw like this one (but older) for 35$. Looked brand new to me, possibly never used. I wanted it real bad, but couldn't justify it after just filling my garage with other machine tools.
     
  7. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    That was, "nephew", and he's a lost cause when it come to electronics. The obvious evidence being that he doesn't even know what he's asking for when he asks me to reincarnate pawn-shop / thrift-store stereos.

    Earlier this week I got a lesson on this site when a person asked for a "dynamic load bank" for his diesel generator. I worked on the schematic during my available hours for 3 days and the OP never came back because he didn't know he was asking for a design that would take a week to do. I consider this to be a valuable lesson for me. "Quit assuming that the requesting party realizes what he is asking for."
     
  8. JoeJester

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    Apr 26, 2005
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    That is true my friend. Sometimes we definitely need clarity up front before pursuing the assistance here.

    On a good side note, your time invested is now available for you to "sell" should the need arise. At worst case, if you were testing a generator, you could build that "test equipment" so you could offer those services and "recoup" your time in increments.

    I know it's upsetting when you invested alot more time, energy, and thoughts than the OP.
     
  9. #12

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    I did enjoy the process, but I was disappointed that the op gave up. I am still amazed at the circuits that come out of my brain when I put a question in and let it stew. It's actually fun. It must be, or I wouldn't be here!

    There are so many short questions with short answers. It's more interesting when something comes along that isn't obvious, but I can figure it out in a day or two. And yes, I've seen businesses that were successful filling a single need. A few would be: an electronic Ph meter (in 1970), a spray-on solar rejection coating for windows, and self leveling lasers for building construction. One of my problems is that my mind doesn't work like that. I'm a blue collar type. Trying to make a whole business run gives me the kind of stress that is unhealthy. I'm much better off alone, with a pencil and a calculator. I can do that on AllAboutCircuits.
     
  10. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Professionals excluded, when you come to know what and how to ask, you probably do not need to ask.
     
  11. Brownout

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    Jan 10, 2012
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    Now that I'm livin in Orlando, I get to visit tech surplus stores. I scored some realy nice projector optics, the objective lenses are about 5" in diameter. The lables says they came off x-ray machines. I use them for inexpensive projectors for the holidays, like a big Christmas card projected on the exterior wall of my house. I also want to try to make a black light projector, if the same optics can be used with ultraviolet light ( I'm sure it can, only the focus plane will need to be adjusted )
     
  12. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    I started a post early in the dynamic loadbank thread to question whether the OP had really thought through the necessity for what he was requesting. He was trying to apply facts that apply to 50 to 500kW generators that are designed to run for weeks or months at a time to a portable 5kW unit that likely will never see 500 hours of runtime for its entire existence. Then, I decided that it would be foolhardy for me to posit such a question to a guy who managed to work in very early in the thread that he was a "surgeon." In my experience, doctors are seldom swayed from their opinions; so, I deleted my thoughts rather than post them.

    Your design abilities are apparent, however. I envy them greatly; if I could design electronics as well as you, I think I could develop and market products that would make tons of money. ;)
     
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  13. #12

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    You mean this?
    I repeat myself when I say my mind doesn't work in a way that could run a business.
    If you can make a business out of an electronic design, let me know and I'll do whatever I can to make both of us become well paid:p
     
  14. JoeJester

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    Every emergency generator should be tested on a quarterly basis if it hadn't run in the last 90 days.

    I've tested 1 kW generators on that basis and it's only function in life was to provide power to the Cesium Oscillators if there was a power failure and the standby generators, either of them, failed to operate. Of course, I used a string of light bulbs to test them for one hour at full load.

    Yes, your design could be either portable enough to test a variety of designs or permanently attached via some switching network. I know preventative maintenance could be a hard sell to some, but, some still value it.
     
  15. tracecom

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    Every 90 days is good. Having been in the business of manufacturing and marketing close to 300,000 portable generators over a period of 8 years, I am satisfied with an annual check, assuming the engines were run dry with stabilized fuel, and the units stored in the dry.
     
  16. JoeJester

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    I kept the small generator on the same schedule as the 300 kW generators. Even those were used infrequently that the 250 hour maintenance was done annually even if we didn't reach 250 hours, and we rarely did. We did have a dummy load of four 75kW banks. One of the first troubleshooting problems I had on that unit was the imbalance of the dummy load ... mostly blown fuses ... in the various parallel legs of the load.

    I noticed the current and power meters were not balanced and the readings didn't agree with what I calculated, so my crew spent some time troubleshooting the load. When it was all checked out and repaired, everything agreed with the calculations so I was a happy camper. :D
     
  17. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    That's how I test my home genset. Just plug a bunch of drop lights in and watch how steady they glow.
     
  18. DerStrom8

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    Feb 20, 2011
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    I still visit my local thrift stores frequently, but rarely do I find any electronics of use. I live up in the boonies where just about everyone's a hunter, a teacher, or a stay-at-home parent. Rarely are there any technicians or the like around here, so naturally there's nobody to donate their old equipment to the thrift stores. Every now and then I see a 20" CRT for $10, but there's usually nothing really that useful. I generally only buy clothes from thrift stores. Scored a whole new look, as a matter of fact, with 90% of the outfit coming from a thrift store. I used to be a jeans-and-a-T-Shirt kind of guy, but when I got an Ivy hat for Christmas one year, I decided I needed to change my look. I went to a thrift store and picked up a few dress shirts, slacks, neckties, and a vest. To give you an idea, I'm sort of looking like Robert Redford in "The Great Gatsby", except my hat, vest, and slacks are black or dark gray, and my shirt is white. Tie varies anywhere from a light gray to a bright red.

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