Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Salvage Shopping in Dallas

Taking a break from my road trip posts from last month and jumping to the present, I'm currently spending the week in Dallas with my contacts from Texas Instruments.  Yesterday we spent the day going shopping in Dallas, which did unfortunately include an actual mall, but other than that short digression for her benefit, we spent most of the day buying electronics and used books.

Thanks to MightyOhm's awesome salvage electronics list, our first stop was Tanner Electronics. The deepest impression I got while shopping at Tanner is how helpful all of the sales clerks were.  One of the other customers was working on a 5V power supply, so the sales clerk was walking him through the whole process of building a linear power supply.  Other than their helpful staff, I was impressed with a few categories of their product selection:
  • They had a very well organized and complete set of THR resistors in 1/4W, 1W, and 2W, and then some fairly good deals on their 10-50W power resistors.
  • Their transistor selection was one of the best I've ever seen in a retail outlet; They had almost an entire aisle dedicated to 2N series transistors.  I particularly appreciate their added touch in that, although they had all of their transistors in numerical part number order, they had one shelf committed to "These are probably the ones you're looking for" where they pulled the most useful dozen parts (2N2907, 2N3904/6, etc).
  • They had a very good selection of Arduino shields, which was somewhat surprising when I'm used to the bay area shops, where the rule of thumb is that if something is less than 20 years old, it isn't there yet.  Larissa wasn't so thrilled about the fact that an electronics shop literally a 10 minute drive from Texas Instrument's headquarters didn't have a single TI EVM product in stock.  I guess she has a new project...
After Tanners, we went to Altex.  Altex is much more of a computer supply store.  I really wouldn't describe this as at all a salvage shop; they mostly sell new electronics.  Computer cases, power supplies, server racks, AV equipment, etc.  They do have some loose components, but mostly DB connectors, balums, and other parts which are all clearly targeted at building your computer system or home theater. A useful store, but not exactly the components and random widgets I was hoping for from a new salvage shop.

To round out the day, we made a stop at Half Price Books on the way home.  A great used book store, but unfortunately not the most impressive engineering collection I've seen.
In the end, a good day shopping, so if you ever find yourself in Dallas with an afternoon to kill, here is some good places to start at.

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