Things must be pretty bad at Radio Shack.
An FM tuner that was given to my wife years ago had developed memory loss; it wouldn’t retain any presets. I finally got around to cracking it open, and sure enough, a largish capacitor had blown and was leaking.
Hey, I can solder (more about that later). So I headed off to RatShack, found where they keep their parts (in a bin now, rather than covering an entire wall), and spent $1.59 on a 1000uf 35v electrolytic cap, while fending off hard sells on bluetooth headsets, Xbox 360s (did you know that RatShack sells consoles?), a new phone, and other crap I didn’t need.
Got home, did the soldering deed: I know that polarity is important on electrolytics, and I made sure to solder ‘-‘ opposite the big ‘+’ on the circuit board.
Plug the tuner in . . . wot’s that wierd humming? . . . why is the tuner’s display flickering? . . . POP! Anyone who’s soldered a cap backwards knows that sound. The big ‘+’ on the board was a registration mark, not a polarity indicator. When I completely scrubbed off the dried-up innards from the old cap, I found the real polarity, which was of course opposite to the way I’d installed the new cap. The cap had blown itself to confetti. Sigh.
Off to RatShack again; a different one (trip logistics, not shame). I made a beeline for the parts bin, grabbed the cap I needed, and went to check out.
The salesman was not interested. “Is this all you want?” He practically sniffed.
“Just take it and go.”
Sign of the times: A RatShack salesdroid too depressed to charge for a component, or to do upsells on cellphone geegaws and overpriced speaker wire? In the 70s they would have been all over you, trying to sell you CB radio equipment and stereos. Batten down your bank accounts, this is gonna be a rough one.
The tuner works fine now; no internal fireworks.
The smell of melting solder brought back many memories of building stuff when I was a kid. More on that later. In the mean time, I checked out Heathkit for the first time in a couple of decades, and am sad (but not surprised) to see that their kit business is utterly gone.