I must come visit you sometime Max. Not to see you, you understand, btu to go and have a look at Mock Electronics...
When I was about 12 or 13 I also used to get Practical Electronics. One of my biggest regrets is losing my old ones in a move. I used to get through a lot of 2N3055's (remember them?) and the cheapest ones were from Standard Telephones and Cables, whose office was in an industrial area 10km outside town. So we used to hitchike out there to get them because it saved us a few dollars of our hard earned pocket money. The fact that it took the whole afternoon to get them was beside the point...
Possibly as a result of those days I began assembling a store (read: glorified junk box, though it is pretty well organised) of electronic bits, so I don't have to order or visit a store to get components. It works 90% of the time, but boy do I have a lot of stuff. When I left Zimbabwe I got rid of a fair bit, but here in Aussie they throw away anything and everything, so I grab it and strip it and have all sorts of stuff that I can see a use for. Drives my wife nuts, but most of the time I can get down and build things whenever I feel like it. Does anyone else do this? I think I should start selling on E-bay....
I love visiting "junk" shops like that. It's amazing the jems one can find, especially when you're in there searching for something else. I really miss them here in Ottawa, the last one having closed down years ago. There are several shops in Toronto that fall into that category; the main ones I visit whenever I make the trip are A-1 Electronics, Active Surplus, and Electronic Surplus Industries. A-1 is closest in size and material mix (new/old) to Mock.
I know what you mean about on-line purchasing; It's great if you're on a deadline but it's a very sterile and uninspiring way to buy hobby materials. There is just something about walking along racks of junked equipment; it speaks of the history of technology over the last 50 years, and occasionally provides a glimps of how certain technical challenges were solved with big, "visible-with-naked-eye" electronics. I'm still in awe when I see an old tube TV chassis, understanding all the functions it had to perform with little more than a dozen tubes.
David's story reminded me of an experience in my early teens when I started building guitar amps. I endured a 5-hour round trip bus ride across Toronto on the hottest day that summer. My quest was for a matched pair of specific power transistors, carried only by a distributor on the other side of the city. This is one of the very few times I would have preferred to purchase by mail order, but I didn't want to wait 4 weeks.
We are fortunate to have Tanner Electronics here in the DFW Metroplex. It reminds me of your "Mock Electronics" store very much. If you're every in town, check it out.
In reply to David, I too have a mountain of junk to strip for parts, here in England. Trouble is the space it takes up and the time to strip the good stuff out of the rubbish.
All I can say is lucky "Mock's" is on another continent as I'd be sure to end up with even more of a space problem.
On the subject of low component count's, I'm still impressed by "Lionel" train's "super sound of steam" gadget from the early 70's. Produces a lovely "chuff chuff" sound with only 20 or so components. Very clever.
The UK used to be covered in shops like this which fascinated boys like me and their fathers! Sadly, most are gone. Cambridge only has one left (apologies for the stupidly long link):
I really regret the disappearance of these shops.
Re the long link -- in the future you should go to https://bitly.com/ and use them to shrink the large URL to a smaller, more manageable version -- for example, I just used it to shrink your monster URL to the following http://bit.ly/138rhDo
great article but "Take 20" was a constructional feature of Practical Wireless, usually authored by Julian Anderson and, in later issues, David Andrews.
I'm sending you a couple of issues from the 1970s so you can indulge in our favourite passtime - electronics nostalgia :o)
Really? Did they not have this in Practical Electronics also? I'm "gob-smacked" as they say. In fact, I'm just about to send an email to the original publisher of Practical Electronics asking him about this.
I'm not saying you aren't right, you understand -- and I did read Practical Wireless also .. .but I would have sworn this was in Practical Electronics -- watch this space...
At one stage there was another magazine called Everyday Electronics - mostly beginners type projects. I think "Take 20" was in there (but could be wrong). EE eventually merged with PE to a new mag called Everyday Practical Electronics (mouthful!) which I think carried over the Take 20 column. Anyway, Max, your contacts there will give us the real story I am sure.
Well, I am mortified -- I just got an email back from the publisher of Practical Electronics -- he confirms that there was no "Take 20" series there, so you are correct -- I must have been reading it in Practical Wireless (take me outside and spank me now! :-)
That's all right, Max, I'm just happy that we can have conversations like this. I didn't get to see too many editions of Practical Electronics as a young lad,or Practical Wireless for that matter, as my favourite was the Radio Constructor and that's what soaked up my pocket money...
I note that my earlier comment has a 9:38 time tag but it was sent before your 9:33 statement appeared on my screen. Hence the sequence of this thread may appear a bit strange.
Cheers for now.
I can't see a "Reply" tab on your recent posting but you're spot on with Dick and Smithy being in the Radio Constructor: their exploits were related in the "In Your Workshop" column and I learned a lot from them.
@radionut - I think the reply only workd for a few levels else the columns get very thin (this used to happen...!)
I also learned a lot from the "In your workshop" columns, they were very instructive. I had quite a few copies of the Radio Constructor - it was another good mag from the old days....
In the 1960's, I used to go with ham friends from my home in northern Oklahoma to surplus stores in Wichita, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and once, the epitome, the Collins Radio surplus store in Cedar Rapids, IA. It was sad to see them disappear, one by one. I still fondly remember picking through a huge pile of scrap electronics at a place in Oklahoma City and coming up with a couple of dozen ceramic-metal transmitting tubes. The guy hefted one in his hand to guess how much copper was in it, and sold me the whole lot for scrap copper price (a buck or two - total).
There's a place that sounds much like your Mock Electronics in Orlando, FL , called Skycraft Parts and Surplus (they have a website, google for it). I have been rejoicing finding this place since I moved here -- you can't "just go pick up something", it's just too hard to get out!
By the way, your transmitting tube looks a lot like a 304TL/TH, or something similar but a bit bigger. Those are transmitting tubes capable of plate dissipation of a few hundred watts. Friends of mine used to make decorative mantelpiece displays out of tubes of this class, actually lighting the filaments. Some are fairly bright, but all have a nice warm glow. The power requirements are generally too high to leave them on as night-lights, though ;-) . The 304TL filament is, IIRC, somewherein the 30W range.
Ax-man surplus (http://ax-man.com/) in the Twin Cities is always a lot of fun. I put together a TV remote control (read: wired solenoid-based channel button pusher) for my dad from Ax-man parts back in high school. It even sort of worked.... ;)
They have scads of stuff, not just electronics. I just about bought a pair of airline seats as college dorm furniture, but unfortunately didn't have any friends with a pickup truck to haul them to Chicago. Ah well.
Max, what took you so long to find that place? You are trying to think of either Webb or W&W Electronics on Clinton Street. It's too late to buy the 1920s radio on display but you can still look at it.
Bardwell's is still there, only 300ft from the old premises but now on the main Abbeydale Road. Alas, the junk's a bit more modern and trashy, but I'm sure the old guy in there's the same young guy I knew in the '60s!
Great article! If you ever get out to the Bay Area (I know you were there last week..Ha!), I recently published a review of the South Bay electronic surplus stores:
Thanks Ken -- I only wish I'd had the time to look at these stores .. but I was 100% tied up at Design West.
Next time I'm out there I will be sure to use your review as a guide and have a happy day checking out all of the stores.
Regards -- Max
@uwezi: There used to be a shop like this in nearby (for me) Stockholm: LabElektronik, but it closed in 2008.
It's so sad to see these stores close -- I cannot tell you how manh hours I spend in Bardwells in Sheffield UK when I was a young lad in the early 1970s -- I still remember boxes of rotary telephone relay switches -- I should have bought them all up LOL
Max, I somehow missed this post when it appeared, but was glad to be sent here via a link in your latest post. Curious, I went looking for a Mock Electronics web site. I found it, but it says they are going out of business; there's a going out of business sale currently in progress, ending the last day of this month. I wondered if it might be the Decatur store, but the only address I could find on the web site was for the Huntsville store. Tell us it isn't so!
When I was a kid growing up in northern New Jersey, my version of your Bardwells was to visit Canal St. in New York City. Back in the 70s, there was store after store carrying electronics parts (ranging from ICs and passives to various used equipment and front panels) as well as stores with optics and plastics. I built my first computer (a wire-wrapped micro based on the RCA CDP1802, with a 2-digit hex display, a bank of switches for binary input, and 256 bytes of memory). Sadly, Canal St. is nothing like that now. I think the modern version of the Canal St. of my youth is the World Wide Web, with virtual places like Adafruit playing the role of that row of shops. At least Jameco is still around; I think that's where I got those 5x7 hex displays back in the mid 70s.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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