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Author Topic: RadioShack is listening so shout out arduino if you want!  (Read 3239 times)
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Lancaster, England
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And that is the problem. It isn't their fault. Stock just does not move.

Yes and no.  It might move if they were items people actually wanted/needed.  The majority of the stuff that's been sitting on the shelves in my local RS is random obscure stuff that nobody wants.  The bread and butter components like resistors, transistors, diodes, useful ICs, they don't stock (bar one "resistor pack" containing 5 of every resistor value known to man - who's ever gonna buy more than one of those?).  Heck, they don't even have soldering irons.

It's hard for anybody in retail. Each square inch of floor space has to earn it's keep. And if a rack of components sells a few quid of stock a week, it is more expensive than a rack that sells tens of items a day.

But that's what they have back/stock rooms for.  A big box full of resistors in a back room, or even a drawer of them under the counter isn't using any retail display space.  All you need do is ask the salesperson for however many you want of whatever size, and (s)he gets 'em out!  Small components don't *need* to be out on display to be in stock.  Even if they didn't stock every value of everything, which I wouldn't really expect them to, you think they'd at least stock the more common components.  10K pots, a dozen of the popular resistor & capacitor values, LEDs, etc.

Even some neat kits, like the Adafruit clocks, the egg-bot, etc. would be a good start toward at least looking like they're still a hobbyist-friendly electronics retailer.

The "electronics section" of my local shop is a wall about 15ft wide by 8ft high of this mostly useless stuff - THAT'S a waste of retail space.  The rest of the store is iPod docks, (a limited amount of) DJ equipment, a handful audio cables (mics & mixers, yet no XLR cables?!?) and cheap indoor radio controlled controlled toy helicopters.

Here in England it seems, we are luckier than Americans. Fast postal service means we can have components delivered next day. And there are loads of UK based traders on Ebay who buy in bulk and make up hobbyist scale orders for a small markup.

I've found Rapid to be even cheaper than most UK based eBay sellers.  Not always cheaper than the Chinese ones (sometimes though), but then it obviously takes a bit more time to get to you. smiley

Rapid don't always have everything I need (no 595 shift registers? seriously), but Proto-Pic usually fills in the gaps on those missing items, and I check and compare both to eBay too when I'm getting ready to make an order.

Many here seem to be reluctant to buy smart.

I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to buy smart, but if you only need a couple of bits, the convenience of being able to buy locally while you're in town anyway is worth the little extra cost (especially if you're impatient and need to get your project finished now! smiley-wink).  If you're buying a whole lot of stuff, sure, get it online, but if all you needed was a couple of those 100nf caps, you wouldn't really care about spending 60p while you're in the area anyway.

1 resistor.. Don't do it. 100 resistors, and you have the beginnings of a bits box that is actually useful. Go on ebay, and find the people who are selling bargain packs. If it takes a week to arrive, so what. The money you will save over the blister packed over priced singles is enough to make it worth it.

That's the route I've taken to.  I've probably spent about the same as I would've spent had I been buying locally, however as I've been buying 50-100 of everything at a time for the same price, the wife's moaning a bit about the lack of space that's starting to accumulate now. smiley-wink
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John

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Yes and no.  It might move if they were items people actually wanted/needed.  The majority of the stuff that's been sitting on the shelves in my local RS is random obscure stuff that nobody wants.  The bread and butter components like resistors, transistors, diodes, useful ICs, they don't stock (bar one "resistor pack" containing 5 of every resistor value known to man - who's ever gonna buy more than one of those?).  Heck, they don't even have soldering irons.

But does it actually move?... Within say a 5 mile radius, how many people do you know who buy components regularly? Not just an emergency resistor or two once in a blue moon. And if they don't sell something as basic as soldering irons, they are pretty much painting a sign on the wall telling you that they don't want your custom anyway. Come back when you want an iPod dock and a remote controlled helicopter..

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But that's what they have back/stock rooms for.  A big box full of resistors in a back room, or even a drawer of them under the counter isn't using any retail display space.  All you need do is ask the salesperson for however many you want of whatever size, and (s)he gets 'em out!  Small components don't *need* to be out on display to be in stock.  Even if they didn't stock every value of everything, which I wouldn't really expect them to, you think they'd at least stock the more common components.  10K pots, a dozen of the popular resistor & capacitor values, LEDs, etc.

And the back room also attracts rent, heat, light.. A box of cheap nasty screwdrivers will take up more space than a box of resistors, but the screwdrivers will always move. And realistically, it is not going to be one cardboard box with say 50 different values to rummage around in. It will be a rack of bins with a product number that the sales person can pick from. Do you keep all your resistors mixed up in a single box? Even with a colour code calculator, it would take the average sales person at these shops a significant amount of time to pick your order.

Lets say.. to guestimate the kind of storage space we are talking about.. 5 ranges of resistors, in 5 divisions.. 22R, 220R 2K 22K etc.. That would be 25 bins just for resistors. Capacitors, diodes, transistors.. Chips.. By the time you can carry a useful number of parts, the box of resistors or the drawer of parts is starting to look a wee bit cramped. . And that is only for the really really common stuff. Which will still be sitting there tarnishing a year from now.

Electronics shops these days are pretty much Argos without the back room Morlocks. I think Maplin even has those same little pens. If they can't type in the reference number, forget it.

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Even some neat kits, like the Adafruit clocks, the egg-bot, etc. would be a good start toward at least looking like they're still a hobbyist-friendly electronics retailer.

Those would be good. And stand a chance of moving. Well.. the cheaper ones that is. Especially if displayed well. With say the Ice Tube clock made up and running to show off what these kits are like. I quite fancy making one of those myself. Also, things like Arduino starter kits. Power supply kits for breadboards and the like. A little transistor tester circuit would be a good enough soldering practice project, and result in a useful tool at the end. Stuff that is pretty much self contained and immediately useful. And importantly.. you can plonk it down on the counter for the salesperson to scan the bar code, and ring up.

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The "electronics section" of my local shop is a wall about 15ft wide by 8ft high of this mostly useless stuff - THAT'S a waste of retail space.  The rest of the store is iPod docks, (a limited amount of) DJ equipment, a handful audio cables (mics & mixers, yet no XLR cables?!?) and cheap indoor radio controlled controlled toy helicopters.

There I agree. but they must sell enough to barely justify it, or they are all that is left form the once bigger range. The iPod docks, Low end DJ stuff, and remote control toys do sell though. And cabling has a gigantic markup. A half meter Ethernet patch cable in Maplin costs £5.49! Online, what.. A quid or two tops? And cables do move. Look how much places like PC world make from USB cables when they sell printers.

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I've found Rapid to be even cheaper than most UK based eBay sellers.  Not always cheaper than the Chinese ones (sometimes though), but then it obviously takes a bit more time to get to you. smiley

Thanks for the tip. I'll check them out. I've been using Bitsbox and made an order with Spiratronics a few days ago. Not the cheapest of them all, but a good middle ground. Haven't used China for anything but a breadboard so far. And that took a month to arrive.

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I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to buy smart, but if you only need a couple of bits, the convenience of being able to buy locally while you're in town anyway is worth the little extra cost (especially if you're impatient and need to get your project finished now! smiley-wink).  If you're buying a whole lot of stuff, sure, get it online, but if all you needed was a couple of those 100nf caps, you wouldn't really care about spending 60p while you're in the area anyway.

And if you were only ever going to make one thing. Fair enough. But realistically.. How many that get to the point where they can use individual components are going to be just making one thing? And for beginners like me, having just enough to make my latest project means I have to re order if I make a mistake. I'm gradually getting to the point where I can see a circuit on a web page, or in a book, and I can pull out the breadboard and just make it. And have enough parts to fiddle with values to see how it reacts. Writing a parts list, and going shopping is just too frustrating.
I may be way off base here.. But I see buying ones of anything like this to be similar to making a special trip to a chain hardware shop and buying a single nail. The effort involved in getting the thing is several times it's value. And I'm pretty patient anyway, so waiting a day or two is no big deal.
When I have not heeded my own advice, I either have to make a single order for a 50p part, with a quid postage, or I buy a tenner or so of parts, and buy a bunch of what I want, along with other things for the bits box. I choose the second option.

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That's the route I've taken to.  I've probably spent about the same as I would've spent had I been buying locally, however as I've been buying 50-100 of everything at a time for the same price, the wife's moaning a bit about the lack of space that's starting to accumulate now. smiley-wink

One of the dubious joys of being single.. I can buy as many toys as I can afford without getting the look.  smiley
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I think you both have good points, but you might want to consider RS stores in a different context. By that I mean . . .

There are no less than 10 RS stores in the Denver, US area. These stores, some franchised, maybe some not, compete with each other for the limited hobbyist market. I don't think the market is big enough for any of the stores to make out on this.

Several years ago RS tested a pilot "superstore" idea in Denver. For one who has already admitted to having a very bad attitude towards them, I have to say I was very impressed. They sold wire and cable by the foot, and had 3 guys at a huge parts counter with rows of sleeves behind them.  The sales floor was filled with surprisingly modern stuff of much more of a geeky nature than say a BB.

It would seem like this idea would work - one big store in the city and let the others sell their door chimes and walkie talkies.
It would  seem, but I guess it didn't to corporate. They closed the store after about a year.

Too bad. It was our only hope, Obi-Wan.

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You are more familiar with RS than I am certainly. So I defer to your opinion. But I was talking more generally. Not just electronics.
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Heck I would like them to carry a simple AVR.  Even though the ones around here do have Ultrasonic sensors.
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There may be hope for Radio Shack yet, but I'm not holding my breath.
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/04/radio-shack-decides-it-loves-diyers-after-all.html
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Watching electrolytic caps exploding is one of my favorite past-times.
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Only thing china is good for 16GB HSSD cards for $15 (usd) only thing I order from there, and thats because its $30 cheaper.
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Watching electrolytic caps exploding is one of my favorite past-times.
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HAHA I have used this one card for 3 years now in an HD cam it works great.
others I use for OS's like backtrack never had a problem.
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But does it actually move?... Within say a 5 mile radius, how many people do you know who buy components regularly? Not just an emergency resistor or two once in a blue moon.
Chances are it probably doesn't as, like me, the people I know around here who are into electronics don't buy from there because of the limited supply/variety and extortionate prices. smiley

And the back room also attracts rent, heat, light.. A box of cheap nasty screwdrivers will take up more space than a box of resistors, but the screwdrivers will always move. And realistically, it is not going to be one cardboard box with say 50 different values to rummage around in. It will be a rack of bins with a product number that the sales person can pick from. Do you keep all your resistors mixed up in a single box? Even with a colour code calculator, it would take the average sales person at these shops a significant amount of time to pick your order.
Actually, my resistors are all in one big box, but they're split up by value into resealable bags.  Rapid ships out strips of 100 resistors in a 3"x3" resealable bag.  You can fit a hell of a lot of those in something the size of a 33L Really Useful Box.  Even if all they had was a range of 1/8th resistors bagged up in a box, it'd keep most people happy - and I doubt anybody's going to want to go into RS to buy them a 100 at a time (not at their prices), so having a hundred of each, and a couple of hundred each of the more popular values, isn't a huge amount of space.

Electronics shops these days are pretty much Argos without the back room Morlocks. I think Maplin even has those same little pens. If they can't type in the reference number, forget it.
I've been into Maplins near Blackpool a couple of times in the last 5 years, and yes, they're mostly useless too. smiley

Those would be good. And stand a chance of moving. Well.. the cheaper ones that is. Especially if displayed well. With say the Ice Tube clock made up and running to show off what these kits are like. I quite fancy making one of those myself. Also, things like Arduino starter kits. Power supply kits for breadboards and the like. A little transistor tester circuit would be a good enough soldering practice project, and result in a useful tool at the end. Stuff that is pretty much self contained and immediately useful. And importantly.. you can plonk it down on the counter for the salesperson to scan the bar code, and ring up.
Exactly.  Having things like that could lead back into them becoming more of the electronics based company we used to love, and lead to carrying individual useful components.  With Obama's recent speech about America being a nation of makers or whatever, I can see it extending over here to the UK, and they'd be a good place for that to start.

Thanks for the tip. I'll check them out. I've been using Bitsbox and made an order with Spiratronics a few days ago. Not the cheapest of them all, but a good middle ground. Haven't used China for anything but a breadboard so far. And that took a month to arrive.

I generally tend to use the Chinese eBay sellers for things I'd like to have a play with one day (but no rush), or to order things I have one or two of right now to tide me over, but I'll know I need a bunch more of in a few short weeks (have some 4x20 LCD displays ($6 each), some 7805 voltage regs ($9 for a pack of 50) and a pair of NRF24L01+ transceiver boards ($12 for the pair) on the way at the mo all with free shipping).
 
And if you were only ever going to make one thing. Fair enough. But realistically..
Of course, but right now I have one project on hold just waiting since last Friday for a CR2032 battery holder.  Still waiting for those to show up (shoulda been here Tuesday), so if I could nip into RS and just pick one up (perhaps I'm just too impatient) it'd make life easier. smiley
 
I may be way off base here.. But I see buying ones of anything like this to be similar to making a special trip to a chain hardware shop and buying a single nail. The effort involved in getting the thing is several times it's value. And I'm pretty patient anyway, so waiting a day or two is no big deal.
I agree.  I wouldn't make a special trip, but if I was going to be heading into town, and passing RS anyway, it wouldn't be an issue.  The city centre's only a 10 minute walk from my house, and I have a bad habit. I have a hard time packing incomplete projects away.  If I have to wait a couple of days for a component, then my project will be sitting there, on the table, waiting for it - again, much to the dismay of my wife. smiley-wink

One of the dubious joys of being single.. I can buy as many toys as I can afford without getting the look.  smiley

Yeah, the single life was great.  But, I've trained her now on how to make a really good cup of coffee, so finding it hard to let her go. smiley-wink

Yikes. That is one thing I would NEVER buy direct from China. Especially at those low prices, they might as well just brand them "counterfeit" right up front and be out with it.  I have bought even "name brand" SDHC cards from official, highly reliable US retail outlets that turned out to be counterfeit. This is a HUGE problem for those of us who need GENUINE Class 10 SDHC cards for our HD video cameras. Counterfeit SDHC cards are rampant.  Check the serial numbers with the official manufacturer's website.  I'm still looking for a straightforward SDHC speed test utility.

Couldn't agree more, same with CompactFlash cards.  I had some non-legitimate-Sandisk cards go bad a few years ago and lose some very important images. Never again. Now I always buy official Sandisk cards and double check against the fraudulent & official card photos when they arrive to make sure.

Yeah, you could get lucky with some fakes and have them not fail on you, especially if you only use them a couple of times a month, but for professional every day use, it's not a risk I'm going to take.

But, that's a whole other discussion. smiley
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Chances are it probably doesn't as, like me, the people I know around here who are into electronics don't buy from there because of the limited supply/variety and extortionate prices. smiley

Exactly.. Kind of like trying to sell pre packaged mashed potato to an accomplished cook.

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I've been into Maplins near Blackpool a couple of times in the last 5 years, and yes, they're mostly useless too. smiley

They are pretty grim. Unless you want the tat of the day.

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Exactly.  Having things like that could lead back into them becoming more of the electronics based company we used to love, and lead to carrying individual useful components.  With Obama's recent speech about America being a nation of makers or whatever, I can see it extending over here to the UK, and they'd be a good place for that to start.

I wouldn't really put much store on speeches.. Nice thought though.
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And they are labeled as some no name brand, but for my job cam I do use sandisk ones.
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The problem here is, there are hardly any shops left that sell components in retail.
One of the best shops there was, even though expensive, went out of business because of online competition.
I would love to get on the bike, cycle to a shop and get that one cap that I lack, or get those resistors I need NOWNOWNOW!
But the fact is, the city I live in doesn't have a single component carrying shop left. The shops that used to have it, switched to selling DJ and lighting gear, or transformed into a repair shop and don't want to sell components anymore.
There is one left, and they recently switched to selling large volumes to shops or companies.

I buy everything online, but try to buy stuff from companies within the Netherlands. You might pay a little more, but they offer better service, shipping is usually quicker and you support your local businesses still.
It's a shame, but that is what the world for the small retailer has become. Most general retail stores have become large chains of stores because they cannot survive otherwise.

For example, a local alternative clothing store (where I loved to go) tried everything to stay in business, they even changed their whole format (from selling clothing suited to the rock and metal loving community to the hardcode and house loving community, with a bit of metal on the side) but failed after all. They are closing down soon, which is really a shame, since there are no such stores left. Only online. And that is what killing them.

We all love to shop online, because it's nice and cheap, but that is what eventually will be the death of small scale retail.
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Radio Shack has gone DIY with Velleman kits.  Anyone excited?  Did Radio Shack listen?
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