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Old 4th August 2010, 12:11 AM   #1
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Default Whats happened to Maplin ?

In the 1980's I bought lots of gear from Maplin, mostly stuff to run a mobile disco. I bought a 225WRMS amplifier kit and disco decks and record decks and sound to light kit.
They seemed to be quite competitive then.

Went in to Maplins today to buy a 1.5m HDMI lead.
They wanted £25 for it !
Went home and bought two off ebay for £1-50 each.

I really value Maplin as its just down the road if I run out of a component for an important job but I wont pay extortion amounts for gear.

I try to support them as much as I can but they really are no longer competitive.
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Old 9th August 2010, 12:45 PM   #2
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I know the feeling.

They're at the other side of town for me, but it's that or CPC at the next town (10 miles away).

Some of the stuff they sell is neat, like a GPS thing that will help you find home/your car etc, I think it's around £10.
I have contemplated some of the kits they sell, but I don't think I'd buy one...
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Old 9th August 2010, 01:59 PM   #3
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Default Maplin Kits

Over the years I purchased a number of Maplinís kits. Each kit had some minor issues with it, each instance quite easy to work around. Maplin kits are far from those Heathkit offered, but for someone with a somewhat better than novice understanding of electronics, they were priced right.

Last year I purchased a K4020 Mosfet power amplifier (supposedly a high efficiency class A amplifier) from them and found numerous serious problems with it. The schematic Maplin provided could not possibly represent a functional, working unit. Furthermore the components provided didnít match the supplied part list, nor did the printed circuit board match the schematic either. When I inquired as to the problems I discovered, they replied that many units have been sold and that there are no issues with it.

When I pointed each issue out in excellent detail, including pictures of their faulty schematic and reasons why the circuit cannot be made to work as they have provided, they did not even attempt to answer any one of issues, again stating the unit has no known problems. They inquired if I had built the unit yet as they had supplied it and I replied them that I could not reason to do so as it would definitely destroy the outputs.

With the components Maplin supplied, there is no way possible to make a functionally satisfactory amplifier, regardless any arrangement I can conceive. From all the information they did provide I find their concept has serious flaws. One could arrange the components such that it would provide amplification although it would be nearly impossible to keep it from going into high frequency full power oscillation regardless.

They never made any further attempt to resolve the issue.

I notice they no longer sell the unit.
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Old 9th August 2010, 04:51 PM   #4
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I bought a Velleman K8060 amp kit from Maplin as my first build. They sell the kits but no suitable heatsink or transformer.

I emailed their "technical support" but they must be very busy, it has been over 4 years now and they haven't replied yet.

World class customer service.

John
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Old 9th August 2010, 07:08 PM   #5
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Default They are going the way of Tandy, I'm afraid.

They started out selling a huge range of components for the enthusiast.

Over the yers this has been whittled away to a minor part of their business. Presumably there is more (if any) profit in complete toys and boxes.

They don't even do a decent range of PC parts - can't keep up with the stock problems of changes every six months.

I'll put $10 on them not being around - or radically changed - within five years.
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Old 9th August 2010, 08:12 PM   #6
Trebla is offline Trebla  United Kingdom
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Whilst i agree with everyones comments, Maplins can only stay in business by stocking the most popular items. If it eventually becomes a boys toy shop, then so be it.
As DIYers we are a minority, and probably account for a tiny fraction of their sales.
Only online sellers with non existant overheads can afford to cater solely for our demands.

I think the only way to combat these trends, is to spread our enthusiam for our hobbies and hope that the next generation will become more involved.
It's going to be a battle though, when most teenagers simply don't contemplate the idea of making anything............. except for a mess in their bedrooms.

Last edited by Trebla; 9th August 2010 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 9th August 2010, 08:26 PM   #7
dfidler is offline dfidler  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigelwright7557 View Post
... a 1.5m HDMI lead. They wanted £25 for it !
Went home and bought two off ebay for £1-50 each. I try to support them as much as I can but they really are no longer competitive.
I think that 25 quid is pretty competitive, for a high-street store. I was in Costco the other day, who are supposed to offer warehouse pricing and their 1.5m HDMI cable was 15 quid.

Cable companies have taken Sony's sales tactics to new extremes by effectively rewriting the truth about cables through propoganda. In the 80's and 90's, most hifi folk would have laughed you out of the city had you tried charging that much.

Now, people seem to look down their nose at you if you don't spent at least 10 quid per meter for the cable. Oh, and don't forget the rocket ship decals that must be attached too.

But you're right, shops like Maplin and Radio Shack are becoming more about starter kits and finished electronics and less about diy. There's just not enough volume in parts for a high street store.
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Old 9th August 2010, 08:38 PM   #8
rjb is offline rjb  New Zealand
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Exactly the same is happening in Australia and NZ with a similar firm, Dick Smith. Stock of components is very limited and not being replenished. Staff are ignorant. However they are trying to compete with other consumer product firms with cheaper poorer quality products, and customer numbers seem to be falling.I guess they too won't survive.
Jaycar on the other hand being more hard-core electronics provides a good service and seems to be thriving.
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Old 10th August 2010, 12:03 AM   #9
sandyK is offline sandyK  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjb View Post
Exactly the same is happening in Australia and NZ with a similar firm, Dick Smith. Stock of components is very limited and not being replenished. Staff are ignorant. However they are trying to compete with other consumer product firms with cheaper poorer quality products, and customer numbers seem to be falling.I guess they too won't survive.
Jaycar on the other hand being more hard-core electronics provides a good service and seems to be thriving.
D.S.E. aims to be another JB HiFi "clone"
In Sydney they have already gone that way. Even their online store has either limited, or no stock of previously sold items.They got out of the kit business some time back.
SandyK

P.S.
Many U.K. members have purchased kits and components from Jaycar via their Freecall number.
Most are surprised at how cheap the kits are in comparison to U.K. prices.

Last edited by sandyK; 10th August 2010 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 10th August 2010, 12:17 AM   #10
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This isn't just a recent endeavour with regards to Maplin, they have been going down hill over the last 10 years.

Interestingly I got into the DIY side of things because I couldn't afford the insane prices that the boutique hifi stuff demanded. Of course I was 14 at the time so having a large amount of expendable income would have been very unusual. Either way it pathed the way for where I am now and I am absolutely thankful that it did.

It definitely depends how one got interested in the DIY scene in the first place.

I have always been interested in how things work, from a very early age, at a fair ground or similar I'd be crouched down looking underneath the rides and mechanical displays, trying to see how they worked. The old steam driven things tended to be the best!

This interest was innate and the world wouldn't have changed it whatever it was like. Be it a washing machine, escalators, car engines or even just an extractor fan, I wanted to dismantle it or remove the covers so I could see what was going on inside. This curiosity made way for wanting to build things myself. I'd like to think that that would still exist in some of today's youths, regardless of how technology and fads may go.
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