Just another electronics retailer

Posted by Robert Tang on 19 October 2012 | 155 Comments

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The other day I was making a LED flashing circuit. It was simple enough to only use discrete parts, atypical from my other (microprocessor-controlled) projects. After a good rummage through my bin of electronic components I came up short of an NPN transistor. Blast! I headed down to my local Dick Smith Electronics (DSE) store – but to my dismay – they have stopped selling electronic components! Arrrhhhh!

Mind you, I don’t blame DSE from ditching that part of their store. Keeping in line with the apparent decline of enrolment in science and technology based subjects, youths these days aren’t interested in making electronics gizmos. And why would they? It involves a lot of effort, and in many cases it turns out to be more expensive than buying something off the shelf. Moreover, for those of us DIY enthusiasts, we’ve wised up and wouldn’t buy that many components from DSE anyway.

My first real foray into electronics started off with making a binary to decimal display device. It consisted of a 74HC4511 chip, a bunch of switches, a 7-segment display, an ice cream lid (ghetto PCB yea!), and a large mess of wires. All the electronic parts were bought from DSE, back in the day when they sold this stuff. It was simple project and quite educational.

I progressed to more complex projects. DSE didn’t stock the components I needed, so I had to look elsewhere. A dedicated electronics part shop was the next thing which had a much larger range. Then when I got a credit card, I discovered the joys of online shopping. I used Element14 (formally Farnell) and Digikey, where the later is where I get most of my components from. I’ve also had good success at getting freebies/samples direct from manufacturers as well as buying in bulk from eBay. But I digress.

Although each component sold by DSE would have a high percent profit, the item cost is low and sales probably are far and few between. DSE started its life out as a business installing and servicing car radios. They also catered for electronic enthusiasts, and had a plethora of electronic parts in stock. A far cry from what is on offer today. On the up side, their staff won’t have to deal with pesky questions from individuals such as myself (RT: “Do you stock a LVTTL version of this CMOS chip?”. Staff: “Err...”). So how will the future generations of electrical engineers fear? Hopefully Jaycar will continue to fill the void of local electronic parts supplier.

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