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RIP Radio Shack - No more ICs [or nearly so]

  1. Sep 9, 2009 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    While their electronics stock has been slowly diminishing for years, until recently it was still possible to make a quick run to Radio Shack for an emergency 7805 or 741, but it seems that day is over. I stopped by the local store yesterday and found only two drawers of stock with only the most common transistors. :cry: Heck, I now have four or five times the stock that they do!

    I still like to get proof of concept before handing over a circuit design for the surface mount layout, and Radio Shack has always been a great albeit limited resource. But they now have so little stock that they are basically no use at all. THAT means that I have to plan my orders better. Oh the horror of it all!!!

    IIRC, I started going to Radio Shack with dad at about age 5. I almost feel like someone died! It's all cell phones and junk now.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2009 #2
    There are three Radio Shacks in may area that closed recently, and they raised prices on all items over the years because of shear competition, especially from online orders. They would charge like $3 bucks for a 7400, or a box of 15 transistors.

    But besides the economy, there is much progress in electronics, and era of fix it yourself is over. The complexity and minimization in size of today's electronics designed by multiple engineers makes going to Radio Shack for electronic parts like going to the prehistoric museum.

    But I acknowledge the thrill in the old days, of a young kid riding his bike to Radio Shack buying parts, and talking to the store's manager about which resistor to get. Asking questions about electronics, and what do capacitors do?
     
  4. Sep 9, 2009 #3

    negitron

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    Is not. You just need a modern set of skills and tools. Lots of stuff is still perfectly fixable; the tricky part is getting the parts.
     
  5. Sep 9, 2009 #4

    berkeman

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    That's one of the (few) good things about being here in Silicon Valley. There are lots of parts places, including some pretty quirky ones. Like the Frys Electronics superstores, where you can find lots of parts on aisle after aisle, and the next aisle over is candy or toys or whatever. All the while a giant arcing monster machine is running in the middle of the store...

    Or places like Halted Electronics, with a mix of new and surplus parts. Or Anchor, or Jameco, or ....

    I could get on my bike and ride to the store... well, I'd be taking my life in my hands here in downtown, but you get the idea.
     
  6. Sep 9, 2009 #5

    mgb_phys

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    Last time I went into RS they didn't even have electrical tape.

    However - they do seem to be the sole supplier of all the 'USB powered revolving tie-racks' you used to be able to get in the innovations catalogue.
     
  7. Sep 9, 2009 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Who still has a copy of Getting Started in Electronics? Before the internet came along, I often found it to be a handy reference for the common parts. Well, that and their mini engineers notebooks.

    I had one similar book put out before that while I was in high school, but I don't remember the name anymore. Cool stuff though. You could walk into Radio Shack having no knowledge about electronics, and in a few days be etching circuit boards for custom circuits.

    Berkeman, having access to great supply centers [and the S. Cal beaches] is what I miss most about living in the city. When you do business from the sticks, I guess one needs to accept a few limitations. :biggrin: However, if you need wood... or if you like Jingle Bells played on chain saws, this is the place to be!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  8. Sep 9, 2009 #7
    I used to have that along with all the engineering mini notebooks, still have couple of those somewhere.
     
  9. Sep 9, 2009 #8
    True Indeed.

    RS never seemed to upgrade their electronic parts department, they always supplied components that were popular in the 80s. They never kept tabs on the latest gizmos.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  10. Sep 9, 2009 #9
    I still have all the engineers mini notebooks, an have one circuit circus. It is a shame that RS is no longer stocking many ICs and such, and their prices have gotten even worse. I went in their the other day and bought a 555 (last one), a 7805, a small package of caps, 5x7 perfboard and two switches, total cost=$27
     
  11. Sep 9, 2009 #10
    Had the pleasure of visiting a friend in SV recently and he took me to Frys. I just stood there all goggle-eyed.
     
  12. Sep 9, 2009 #11

    dlgoff

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    Yea. It's hard to make things with stone knifes and bear skins. :grumpy:
     
  13. Sep 9, 2009 #12

    turbo

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    Unfortunately, RS was more than willing to cut off all us tube-junkies so that I had to shop far and wide to get preamp, output, and rectifier tubes. I still have caches of Mullards, GEs, RCAs, etc tucked away, all tested and documented. Unfortunately, my sensitivities to fragrance chemicals prevent me from getting out to clubs, where most of my work originated. I'd show up with a couple of nice refurbished amps in my rig, and I knew all the local guitarists. I'd let the musicians try out my refurbished amps if they wanted, and often went home with their amps for service, leaving mine as "loaners". Lots of guitarists were blatting through flat-sounding high-powered amps, and had their ears opened up when they got a chance to crank a healthy Deluxe Reverb, Vibroluxe Reverb, Super Reverb or Twin. I had a home-made Tweed Deluxe clone (5E3 circuit) in my line-up at a Portland guitar show (only about 12 watts) and it was a huge hit. It got played nearly all day long and got me more offers from studio execs and vendors than I ever expected.

    Unfortunately, the lack of locally-available parts was a spoiler, unless I was willing to give up my full-time job, because I was forced to order $100s of dollars worth of parts at a time in order to get favorable pricing on my components. That and the fact that most of the people wanting my "exclusive" services were located over 90 miles away in Portland.
     
  14. Sep 9, 2009 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    They did to some extent. For example, they had the latest in analog storage [voice chips] all through the 90s. A lot of it depends on the store as well. In the past, stores located near universities were often well stocked for the EE students. And many standard chips haven't changed much. We still find many familiar favorites in modern devices, but in sm. As for specialty chips, obviously they couldn't keep up with that. Also, notably, as far as I know RS has never sold PIC technology. That may have been where they lost a significant part of the market.
     
  15. Sep 9, 2009 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    Why the grumpy face? :rofl: I'm running a business from the edge of civilization and the edge of a cow pasture here! Just beyond our house are miles and miles of forests.

    One of the nearest towns only has one street light. [I think they have one].
     
  16. Sep 10, 2009 #15
    The RS by me still has a good stock of stuff. They sell Basic Stamps, all the basic semiconductors and ICs, as well as a variety of PCBs and soldeirng irons. They really stock up on stuff in the fall semesters around senior design time.
     
  17. Sep 10, 2009 #16
    I remember that voice recorder chip, with 3 seconds of recording time, the one with 10 sec cost like twice as much. It was also in one of those kits, where you hook wires to springs or something like that. For some reason, RS chose to stick with parallex basic stamps instead of PICs that were more popular at the time.
     
  18. Sep 10, 2009 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Hmmmm, I do now remember that they didn't have the 60 and 90 seconds chips when I was using them. I do recall them having the 30 second chips.

    I don't think any RS near me ever stocked the basic stamp. However, by the time those were catching on I had left Los Angeles, so I guess it was a local stock limitation.
     
  19. Sep 10, 2009 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    I'm jealous.
     
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