Tag Archives: Surplus

Changes to the MightyOhm Wiki


I’ve been making some changes and additions to the MightyOhm Wiki over the past few days.

To complement the awesome list of surplus electronics shops, I started creating wiki pages for the various projects I have previously documented on the blog.

Last night I added a list of cheap PID controllers to the wiki page for my DIY PID-controlled Soldering Hotplate.  (Backstory: the PID controller on my hotplate quit working this week and I’ve been shopping for a replacement!)

I have also  been adding more information to the PCB resources page, including where to order cheap solder paste stencils and resources for making test fixtures.

More to come…

Where do you shop for electronic parts and tools?

Solder Accessories

Mitch and I are in the process of compiling a list of places to buy electronics parts and tools for a book we are writing about getting started with AVR microcontrollers.

Where do you go to buy electronic parts, tools, and other supplies?  Do you have a walk-in store in your area, or do you shop online?

I’m particularly interested in hearing from readers outside of the United States.  If you live in South America, where do you buy soldering irons, solder, resistors, capacitors, and other odds and ends?  Do you buy locally or online?  What about Europe?  Asia?  Africa?

If you do have a favorite place to shop for electronics goodies, leave a comment here or consider adding it to the MightyOhm Wiki!

Surplus Electronics Wiki Growing Fast

The past few weeks have seen a lot of activity on the MightyOhm Wiki!

Since it was mentioned on the Make: blog last week, helpful readers have been making significant contributions every day.

One highlight of the wiki is the Surplus Electronics Resources page, which I first posted about in February.  It has more than quadrupled in size since then and now includes surplus shops in the United Kingdom and Canada in addition to dozens in the United States.  If you haven’t seen this page yet, you should definitely check it out.

If you don’t see your favorite electronics surplus store on the list, please add it!  Several of these “junk shops” close every year due to rising rents and competition online.   Anything we can do to keep them in business will benefit the maker community.  One way to do this is by making sure that folks know that these resources exist, and this is where I hope the wiki will help.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who has been contributing to the wiki.  In particular, thanks for making it one of the best directories of electronics surplus stores on the web!

Photos of The Black Hole

The Black Hole

Last May, my brother and I went on a week-long roadtrip across the US.  Ambling down the highway in a very large moving truck, we travelled from California to Texas by way of  Tuscon, Socorro, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and quite a few rest stops, gas stations, and fast food restaurants in between.

Intoxicated by the chile verde, we spent considerable time in New Mexico, a state that neither of us had visited before.  One of the highlights of our visit to the Land of Enchantment was a side trip to Los Alamos, birthplace of the atomic bomb and home of two major attractions for any electronics geek:

Los Alamos National Labs

Sadly, armed guards prevented us from taking a close look at the Los Alamos National Labs.  Actually, the museum is pretty decent, and includes scale models of Fat Man and Little Boy, some exhibits about radioactivity and nuclear weapons, and a short film about the history of the labs.

Fat Man

The Black Hole

The Los Alamos Sales Company, aka The Black Hole, is a surplus store started in 1951 by the late ‘Atomic’ Ed Grothus, a former LANL machinist turned peace activist.

I have never seen a more fascinating collection of electronic test equipment, laboratory glassware, chunks of machined aluminum, LN2 dewars, bell jars, dusty old databooks, and just plain weird stuff.   Good news: most of it is for sale, although there are very few price tags around and some items are probably in the “if you have to ask…” category.

A controversial Los Alamos institution, it has even been the subject of a documentary, although I haven’t managed to track down a copy (yet).

Here are some photos to give you a taste of what it’s like to wander around The Black Hole:

A geiger counter near the front door clicks away in response to some radioactive source nearby.
Eberline Geiger Counter

One of several aisles of surplus test equipment. You name it, it’s here.

Mmm…  Organic Plutonium!
Organic Plutonium

Anadex CF-300R Timer with gorgeous nixie display.
Anadex Timer Model CF-300R

Racks of vintage test equipment.  Scopes, counters, power supplies, etc.
Racks and electronic test equipment

Period datasheet for the Fairchild uA741 operational amplifier.
uA741 original datasheet

Pan Am hard hat.
Pan Am Helmet

Oscilloscope with permanently attached scope camera.  This is the same setup you see in the pictures of atomic bomb test shacks in books such as How To Photograph an Atomic Bomb, by Peter Kuran.
Scopes with cameras

Honestly, the pictures capture only 1% of what you’ll find here – you have to actually visit to appreciate this place. Oh, and budget an hour or two minimum.  If you enjoy looking at dual trace oscilloscopes and dusty cold war relics as much as I do, you’ll need an afternoon to really do it justice.  If you want to see more, check out my Bradbury Science Museum and The Black Hole albums on Flickr.

By the way, The Black Hole is listed on the Surplus Electronics page of the MightyOhm Wiki.  Is there a surplus electronics store in your city?  Add it to the wiki!

Announcing the MightyOhm.com Wiki

I am pleased to announce that the MightyOhm Wiki is now online and open to the public.

While there isn’t a ton of content yet, my hope is that the wiki will become a useful means to share information and resources relevant to the site.  At the moment, there are pages for electronics vendors, hardware/software tools, and PCB manufacturers.

Another page I have been working on for a while is the surplus directory, which lists surplus electronics stores around the country.  If you have a favorite surplus goldmine in your area, please create an account and add it to the wiki!

MightyOhm Has a Wiki.  Check it out.