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Old 2nd June 2010, 01:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Silicon Valley
Default A Pilgrimage to Weird Stuff

Silicon Valley, where I live, (an area 40-50 miles South of San Francisco where semiconductor/high tech companies are very thick on the ground) used to have loads of surplus stores where one could pick up parts/cool junk for dime-on-on-the-dollar prices. The number of stores has sadly dwindled in the 30 years I've lived out here, but there are still a few places left worth visiting. Weird Stuff (Sunnyvale, CA) is one of them. In the front room they carry old computer hardware (they had an old Apple II on display when I visited today). If you want an old modem or an ISA-based IDE controller for your ancient 386 computer (or some more recent stuff), linger in the front. If you want the good stuff, proceed directly to their back room. I've picked up all kinds of things there, from 60kV silicone-insulated cables to vacuum hardware, to rack mount accessories. This time around, I snagged:

1) Two 80's vintage enclosed switching power supplies (Kyosan and HP) with nice cases that will be gutted and used to house amps. The price was far less than what I would have paid for one new enclosure not half as sturdy as the cases on the power supplies. Some of the parts are interesting - the Kyosan used a Motorola MC3420 SMPS controller chip, a unique device almost as ancient as the old SG3524 (the first integrated SMPS controller).

2) Two brand new roughly cube-shaped aluminum cases (the sheet metal is at least 0.062" thick) for $5 each. Cases for small monoblock tube amps?

3) Three sets of (3) 100uF, 330VAC ASC film caps molded together into a single assembly with leads and mounting bracket. These will make awesome filter/storage caps for my next tube amp project, especially as they are relatively compact.

4) A roll of mil-spec stranded hookup wire and a big roll of mil-spec shielded cable (I've already cleaned out their silver-plated stranded teflon wire, and you'd mess yourself if I told you what I paid per roll).

5) Some MPS6601 high current driver transistors.

6) A nice fiberglass tub to haul all the stuff to the front counter and out to my car. Very useful later, too...

Total for all this booty was about $100. I blanch to think what I would have had to pay for just the roll of cable alone if I had tried to order it from the usual distributors. Not quite hamfest pricing, but then I didn't have to get out of bed at 5AM, either, and that's worth a lot of money to me these days.
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