[time-nuts] Surplus Places...

jimlux jimlux at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 1 09:34:27 EDT 2010

Bob Camp wrote:
> Hi
> There have *always* been multiple tiers to the surplus market.
> Catalogs of gear have always shown up with prices that were 10X (or
> 100X) what an item might be bought for. That was as true in 1965 as
> it is today. A *lot* of those old time outfits lived off of a buy it
> for < 1/3 list and sell it for > 2/3 list business model. Apparently
> there have always been people willing to pay those sort of prices.

That's a useful niche. One of the advantages of C&H over, say, Apex, was 
that they had a catalog.  If you actually needed something (as opposed 
to wandering the aisles looking for stuff that might be useful: my 
garage is full of things like that), then it was worth it to pay the 
premium to have the fine folks at C&H sort and label things and put it 
out in a catalog.

When I was in the special effects business, the ability to run through 
the catalog and find an air cylinder or gear motor that would work, and 
then send someone over to buy it, was invaluable.

> The "universal PC instrument" is a lot like those cute little "all in
> one machines". Either you have a dozen of them each set up for a
> single task or you spend time converting back and froth between
> tasks. It's a drill press and I need a lathe ... It's an ohm meter
> and I need a frequency counter ....

I think a more modern model now is to have the standalone instrument, 
with the PC serving as the user interface.  Think of the USB based RF 
power meters. After all, a goodly number of instruments from Tek and 
Agilent now have an embedded PC in them (running Windows in some form), 
so it's just dividing the box at a different point.

The down side is that there are times when having a knob to twist is 
just nice (spectrum analyzers with a "frequency","span","ref level", or 
scopes with vertical gain, horizontal sweep and trigger).

> Like the universal machine, once you do get it converted around, it's
> not *quite* as good at any one task as a dedicated machine. Mass and
> rigidity counts in machines ... self calibration only goes so far on
> an instrument.
> You can indeed get the task done either way. You'll get it done with
> less hassle with the dedicated gear. You'll save money with the all
> in one. There will be a market for both for a long time to come.
> Bob

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