As a kid, I used to enjoy the arrival of each year’s Radio Shack catalog. I would thumb through and think of all of the things I could do with the bounty of electronics within. I know, I know, Radio Shack was a joke compared to some of the larger electronics retailers of the sixties and seventies, but for a kid in the boonies of upstate NY, it was all I had. I started with the solderless 65-in-1 kit, and graduated to bigger and better things. I built several of the P-Box kits, and tackled the Globe Patrol regenerative SW kit when I was about 11. I wish I still had them. I found an archive of the catalogs in my uncle Win’s basement at one point. They were in his ham shack (S.K. W1PVC) neatly organized on a shelf. Now, years later, the archive exists online. For those of you that like to reminisce, go check out RadioShackCatalogs.com. Unfortunately looking through these is a little depressing as we not only miss what RS once was, but also miss some of the now defunct competitors out there, like Lafayette Radio (although there appears to be a company called Lafayette Radio on the web, selling mobile and marine gear).
I mentioned in my introduction post, that I have some potential hams in the family. I recently went to Radio Shack to purchase a Gordon West technician study guide for the better half (yes, they have it), and was surprised at the HUGE display of Arduino, Make, and Parallax products. Now, I know that The Shack, as they like to be called now, was carrying a small assortment of these things already, but they have GREATLY expanded the selection. In the Manhattan RS that I went to, there was the equivalent of 2 vertical wall sections, and a third section on an endcap. I hear that they had a large display at last year’s MakerFaire.
Will this lead to some Amateur Radio gear, or at least some related accessories? Time will tell. They surprised us once before with an unexpected return to Ham Radio in 1990 with the HTX-100. Maybe someone in Fort Worth is looking at the companies they are trying to compete with by becoming a cellphone store and realizing that they aren’t doing well either (Best Buy?). I have also noticed that some of the stores that eliminated the component section, seem to have now added the component cabinet that some stores had retained back to their stock.
Someone on the repeater the other night called Arduino, Make, Raspberry Pi, etc., the modern erector set. I would like to believe that. I think it’s time to start building some things. Makes me feel like I’m 11 all over again. 73!