Aero ‘lectrics

Parts is parts.


The RST Engineering parts library. Everything that RST has designed in the last 35 years has come from this.

A long, long time ago, a kid got his first ham license when he was a freshman in high school. He haunted the surplus electronics stores (Navy town, San Diego, tons of surplus, some of which would stand and salute when Anchors Aweigh was played). Somehow he cobbled together a tube transmitter for the 6-meter band from surplus parts, old TV sets and a dynamotor of dubious ancestry that ran off of his family’s 1951 Chevys 6-volt battery. From that beginning he has collected names and now web sites of electronics parts sources of all sorts, and they may be of interest to builders and tinkerers.

Mouser Electronics. The granddaddy of them all. I remember Jerry Mouser selling his one-page catalog of imported resistors and capacitors out of the back of his station wagon in the Teledyne-Ryan parking lot. Today the 2200-page Mouser catalog is virtually the bible of every practicing engineer and purchasing agent. It offers more parts than you could ever use in a career (

Jameco. A fairly broad-based parts supplier, but there is no equal for the selection of wall power supplies (wall warts) and computer fans. Caution: A $5 order fee is tacked onto orders of less than $25 unless you order online (

DigiKey. Another broad-based component supplier like Mouser, but I think its semiconductor section is superior to Mousers. Prices are nearly identical (

The Mouser catalog of components.

Philmore. A fairly complete line of assembled components (no resistors, no capacitors, etc.) that appear to be totally sourced offshore. The Datak line is a complete do-it-yourself PCB chemistry and tools section. Still using phonograph needles? Get them here. Lots of goodies to look over (

Calrad. Similar to Philmore, but with some things (meters, transformers, etc.) that Philmore doesn’t carry; $25 minimum order (

Antique Electronic Supply. Vacuum tube heaven. Need a set of matched tubes for that old Fender guitar amplifier? Look no further. Need parts or diagrams for your crystal set? You got it (

Ramsey. Before you tell me that Ramseys kits have nothing to do with aviation, you will be pleased to know that the annual fly-in at Grass Valley International (KGOO) broadcasts its entire show on the FM band of a Ramsey FM transmitter.

There are some other goodies that you can adapt for aviation if you really try (

And then there are the other places you can acquire parts. I use these from time to time and have attempted to give you the main items that these folks sell. Most surplus stores might have it today, but it will be gone tomorrow, so don’t plan on designing surplus parts into a long-term requirement.

Thanks to Mike Halbern and Alysia Lopez of the Sierra College Mechatronix program for sharing some of their favorite parts places. Between them and IMA and ELE, it made the search for parts sources a lot easier.

Whats up for next month? Probably an update to Backyard One, the lit-up wind vane we did a few years ago the month that Spaceship One was launched. Stay tuned.


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