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A Collection of “Stuff”

Remembering Radio Shack and other effluvia

I often like to carry a theme for this column, but today I thought I’d just throw in a collection of links that really have no particular theme … just a collection of stuff.

Radio Shack’s Eulogy
I don’t imagine there’s a single engineer in radio or TV who hasn’t turned to “The Shack” for a last minute emergency part, adapter, or “widget.” There’s always been a Radio Shack close by and, though they might not be our first choice for parts, they’ve usually had what we needed or a way to slap together something that worked in a jiffy. But the Shack has changed over the years and is not quite the same place we knew 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. If you follow the news, you’ve probably read (as I have) of their financial struggles and how their efforts to fit into the grand scheme of commerce today. I’ve never worked for Radio Shack nor known what it was like on the other side of the counter, but I found this story of a former employee who paints a very different picture of what I always imagined. Keep in mind, and out of fairness to Radio Shack, that this is only one side of the story. I would imagine the company might have a much different story to tell. This is (as the former employee put it) “The Eulogy of Radio Shack.”

Radio Shack Catalogs of the Past
As a kid, I loved the “free battery of the month.” And I can’t begin to tell you the number of catalogs and free flashlights I picked up in the 1980s. If you want to enjoy the past … and look at how prices have changed (including how inexpensive computer gear has become), you’ll really enjoy this link to the motherlode of old Radio Shack catalogs.

Coax Loss Calculator
Wondering how much loss is on that RG6 or RG8? Need a quick simple link for figuring out line loss? Here’s a great link from N4GUS Repeater Geezers.

Vinyl Comeback in the Digital Age from NPR
Here’s a link to a fun story about how vinyl (LPs, 45s) has not only managed to stay alive, but grow!

RF Café
Somebody needs to give a gold star to this guy. Fellow USAF vet Kirt Blattenberger has put together an electronics pack rat’s digital paradise at a site he calls RF Café. It has all sorts of interesting “stuff,” including bunches of vintage articles from publications like QST, Popular Electronics, Electronics World, Wireless World, Radio Craft and more.

And finally …
The Enlightened Man” — in the hustle of our lives, we sometimes miss the little things and forget the important things. Take three minutes and remember why we’re here.

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is [email protected].