The strongest signals leaking off our planet are radar transmissions, not television or radio. The most powerful radars, such as the one mounted on the Arecibo telescope (used to study the ionosphere and map asteroids) could be detected with a similarly sized antenna at a distance of nearly 1,000 light-years. -- Seth Shostak
Neon signs don't consume much power, but they look like they do. A cousin of fluorescent lighting, neon is actually quite energy efficient. A neon tube glows coolly when high-voltage, low-amperage electrical power excites the gas within it. -- Virginia Postrel
But when we face the great questions about gravitation Does it require time? Is it polar to the 'outside of the universe' or to anything? Has it any reference to electricity? or does it stand on the very foundation of matter–mass or inertia? then we feel the need of tests, whether they be comets or nebulae or laboratory experiments or bold questions as to the truth of received opinions. -- James Clerk Maxwell
If you haven't heard already, the US retailer Radio Shack has entered into bankruptcy. It is sad to see a 94-year-old electronics company fail and for hams, it is especially sad to see a company falter that played a significant role in amateur radio. It has been a steady decline so the bankruptcy is no surprise. It appeared inevitable long ago.
Radio Shack started in Boston in the 1920's and grew into a nationwide icon with 4,300 stores. For radio amateurs, Radio Shack was a familiar source of electronic components, housings, kits, electronics tools, antennas, coaxial cable, connectors, scanners, and HF receivers and transceivers. For many, Radio Shack was their only local source for electronic components.
The Internet changed everything and being a local source of electronic components seems to have lost its relevancy along the way. Creative destruction is the phrase often used to describe the effects of the invisible hand at work in the free market. Business failure isn't pretty to watch and it can be very difficult to experience if you are personally affected; however, poorly run businesses deserve to be replaced by well run businesses offering products and services that people want to pay for.
Goodbye Radio Shack
Radio Shack stores around the nation are being liquidated. If you haven't done so already, take a trip to your local Radio Shack and scoop up some excellent deals on all things useful around the shack. We visited our local store recently and walked out with a grocery bag of components, connectors, and even a solderless breadboard all for 90% off list price and totaling only $15.
1980 Radio Shack Catalog showing the DX-300 HF Receiver
As we were packing up, the clerk proudly showed off a printed receipt from customer's purchase earlier that day that was about 8 feet in length. The clerk said the customer had raided the Radio Shack discrete component bins (resistors, capacitors, 555 timers, transistors, etc.). We made a point of thumbing through those bins whenever stopping by a Radio Shack store and more often than not walked out with a few interesting goodies. We hams will miss that experience; though, for some it has already been replaced by a trip to a local electronics parts retailer such as Fry's. Goodbye Radio Shack thanks for the memories and thank you for supporting amateur radio.