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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and NEVER shop at RadioShack Answered

So, tips for building things that I've learned today:

Have some strange piece of hardware that you're trying to take apart? Like that dead cell phone, for its pager motor? I just found the bristlebot project, and it's too cute. Also, I'm home for winter, and all that Highschool-Star left here was a pile of magnet wire, and some electrical tape. Not even a breadboard! (Ah well, thanks highschool-Star, for what stuff is here - Star-of-the-future gets none!).

So, without a tiny Torx-6 screwdriver that I'm sure my family would use exactly once (I mean, that I would use exactly once), I drove to the nearest place and - did not buy one.

I walked in, unscrewed the screws I needed out, and put it back on the shelf.

$15, saved!

Also, don't buy batteries at radioshack, ever. 3V coin-cells were the same price as 1.5-volters, and, at $6, all of them cost less than a frappucino at Starbucks. Six dollars! That's around $2 per VOLT, at best! So I left and went to the drugstore where two 3V coincells cost $2. Much better.



8 years ago

hey radio shack never carried lcd displays and i found some in a thrift store for $25 thrift stores, yard sales, and garage sales rock!!!!!!!!

But ma'am, do you need batteries for that?


8 years ago

There's an online store called www.newark.com. I've heard from several people that it has TONS of components and such. I've given it the once over and it appears to have every component I could dream of. 

with free bad hardware from the computer repair center + school tech guy + (sometimes) friendly workers at construction sites + neighborhood trash . . . . who needs RS ?

I use RadioShack for when I am desperately in need of something. Other than that I try to stay away.

My other experiences include a moment like this: 14-year-old-me: "I need picofarad capacitors for a radio I'm making, do you have any?" (yeah, well - I didn't know what low expectations to have.) radioshack: "picofarad? is that the little 'u' symbol?" me: no, that means micro. I need pico. Pico is a lot smaller. radioshack: "I'm sure u means pico. Let me go double check the stock-room." --15 minutes later-- radioshack: "wow, it's true! u means micro!" me: so, any picofarad caps? radioshack: "hang on, let me go check the stock-room..."

That reminds me the problem I had with Maplin! I went to maplin and I ask if they have any 7.2v R/C car's battery pack charger and more than thirty minutes later, they came back with a 12v lead-acid battery charger. Then I said "That is the wrong type of battery charger", and they did not say anything like if they don't understand my language. Those people just don't know what are they doing!

Ah yes my run in with maplin was met with impressive stupidity, I asked where I might find the components after forgetting that you needed to go to the back desk, first I was taken to the computer stuff then I said components for electronics... I was taken round to the MP3's etc, eventually I rhymed off a bunch of names and he went errrrrrrrr for 30 seconds and went 'iuno' so I asked the supervisor who was smart enough to ask for part numbers, I had written them down and had been staring at that list long enough to know them all by heart... He eventually tapped them into the computer, after finally getting the right components I started my not so polite complaint, I left with three times of everything I need and a job offer (minimum wage so nah) The clerk also rung the stuff in in a random order and missed two expensive things, saving me another few quid...

I am not too sure what you are talking about but I one time online ordered from maplin which is a ferrite ring (it cost £1.73) a NE555 timer chip (it cost £0.53) and some other things.

-- 5 days later --

When I received my postage, guess what I found inside the package, instead of a NE555 timer they sent me a 7555 timer! The 7555 timer from maplin are expensive (1.73 I think) and I could not find my ferrite ring anywhere in the package but I did find a very large bag full of cable ties bases and it cost £6.43 and I did not order that!
So maplin are not very well organized, they have given me about £6 ($12 for the US readers) for their stupidity! LOL!!!

Ah right I was instore... Basically they didn't now what I meant by components... The supervisor did the natural bricking it reaction, revert to the part codes, which solved the situation... Unleashing a torrent of complicated abuse got me a free triple order... You are right about the bad organisation, I went to the till and paid for a selection of my items but not all of them,...

Seems like this happens to every business eventually. About 30 years ago I ordered a $9 analogue multimeter from the Sears catalog and when I went to pick it up, I did not question the box size (which was big enough to hold 10 of the meters). Sure enough, they had sold me 10 meters for the price of one. Apparently they were not selling well LOL

Hehe, I love it when something great has a quiet moment though, You get the value that can't be offered by any business making money...

Don't worry it's not just maplin or sears I have ordered parts from Freescale and they have on more then one occasion, in fact on several occasions shipped out boxes or parts when you order small numbers, it's nice to get 50 RF transistors when you order 5...

Do you mean FreeScale SemiConductor ?

I still think of them as Motorola, in fact, yep thats what the speed dialer has on it, and every part works if only that could count... But normally it's a item mistake 5 got changed to 50, I got 3 rails when I asked for three transistors, my friend got a box full of reels (( 5000 count I think )) and he asked for 12 parts... And being honest I phoned them to make sure I wouldn't get billed for the mistake and they said to keep them, Yay... I was told it's not worth the work to return them and process it all I guess they can afford to write off a few bucks here and there (((And I think they are saving there own rear as well, no one likes mistakes like that on there sales / shipping records, you know it the old shot shovel and shut up )))

ou know it the old shot shovel and shut up

Sounds like no one ever gets hammered at inventory time either I guess. *shrug*

Well with all those nails sticking up every where, who do you start with ?? Samples are a tax write off so there is a good place to start and they don't lose money that way so it even make the share holders happy .... (( no one normally minds screwing the government ))

Maplin's not so bad. I finally got the chance to enter one a couple weeks ago. Maplin sells gas powered soldering irons! There's just about no other good way to solder while traveling (with a match or forget it), which makes Maplin fall under "useful" in my book. Also there was way more stuff than you'll ever find at Radio Shack! Not that it's a true electronics store in the way we'd all like, but in the Radio Shack/Maplin war, Maplin delivers an order of magnitude more juice to my tank circuit.

Maplin is located in the UK, correct? I couldn't find a site mentioning anything in the states... :-(

Maplin certainly seem to know what they're doing where I live, they at least have an appointed "Components specialist" that sort of knows what a transistor is.

Wow, that is a log like the experience I had with them concerning an RPG compiler for a TRS-80 (way back then). Me: I need an RPG II compiler, I see you stock COBOL, do you have RPG? RS: What does RPG mean? Me: Report Program Generator RS: sounds like a word processor to me....so no, we wouldn't carry that... Me: I just finished a course in RPG programming, but it does appear that you haven't any awareness of it, so you probably don't have one. And they wondered why IBM and the clones overpowered them in the PC war? LOL

you got lucky. i asked if they had a 1500 uf capacitor for a dead motherboard i have, and the woman asked: whats a capacitor.

the woman asked: whats a capacitor
LOL!! Well why the hell is she working for Radio Shack!!

RS does not employ "educated" people (they normally demand higher salaries). They are mostly trained in house to sell Cell phones, etc.

TK would have gotten even weirder looks if he had asked for a 1500 uf condenser LOL (old name for a capacitor).

RS does not employ "educated" people
Ahhh, I see...

TK would have gotten even weirder looks if he had asked for a 1500 uF condenser LOL! That is funny!

Back in the TRS-80 days, when they came out with a compiler for COBOL, I asked a RS salesman about a RPG II compiler. He said that RPG didn't sound like a "program" to him (of course, I had just finished a course in RPG II programming *sigh*). It hasn't gotten much better since.

She couldn't get a job at "Transistor Hut".

It's a joke (not real), like "Capacitor King", and "McTransistors" or "Resistors 'R' Us" ; a big corporate chain (FAST FOOD MENTALITY) with no real knowledge or service skills.

About a year ago, actually, while I was visiting radiocrap for some little stuff (I managed to escape with a DIP-20 breakout-esque board & a DIP-20 socket) and the guy actually suggested MAKE:! After I told him I already subscribed, it went downhill as he told me I didn't need to subscribe, as, IIRC, "someone always posts the PDF on yahoo or something"

Also, the RS's near me all got rid of their component bins! I can't believe it! I need a good store around here... I doubt it, though. We're not in the boonies or anything, but its definantly not a city.

How did your virobot work out, after all that?

I know what you mean.....my "city" is both a bit backward, and a bit small. All the Electronics stores are gone except 2 RS stores, both in malls, both have almost NO parts anymore....just phones and puters.

Yeah, it is happening over here in UK, a long while ago Maplin had 'killed' all of the electronic supplier stores and now Maplin stops stocking a lot electronic parts and stocking up more computers and computer parts... It is getting really annoying.

I've found schools and techs to be good help, ask them politely if they wouldn't mind adding on to their orders if you pay the cash for them, you get cheap components and there is nothing they don't have in a catalog, I tricked my old school quite cruelly and the techie ordered me masses of insane components, I got them and payed for what I put down on the order, the techie just kept quiet since the budget was massive and the components were evidence...

Aye but you can get some help by asking a school, home-schooling seems like and advantage towards doing that...

I hate having to wait for M.O. to ship me parts.....but, except for a few resistors, and a very few IC's, RS is not much of a parts store anymore

Yeah, It is getting really annoying, radio shack and maplin are becoming more like a computer stores.

great! it zooms around quite cheerfully. after I built it, and had a dream about using my house's electric stove to do soldering, by mashing the pieces down on the burner until they got hot enough to melt solder, and then quickly joining them. nothing like being in the middle of nowhere! getting rid of parts bins: that's not a good sign. how did you create the horizontal rule?

Haha, I wouldn't try it, I tried using a hotplate that I use for reflow soldering to do... reflow soldering, but using just plain solder instead of paste. It didn't work so well, I burned the board before I melted the solder ;-)

Yeah, the part bins were terrible, I guess they're becoming just a cell phone store.

Horizontal rules?

Let me think...

Still thinking...

Ahh, I know
Four or more -'s in a row.

Yes, stop or there will be no cookies for you! *evil laugh*

I don't even like cookies. *evil laugh* Okay, thats a lie Lets stop it here, or we'll be thread hijackers.

What about...Chocolate chip?

Ah yes, thread hijackers. :D What fun

Hey, how do you make those grey lines! Please tell me!

Look! A road!

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