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December 2010

Jameco Electronics Newsletter

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Jameco Parts to the Red Sea

This is a great time of year for miracles and while nothing in the electronic parts distribution business can be considered a true miracle, Jameco was recently able to pull off its equivalent.

Keith, a self-described long-time Jameco customer from Old Town, Florida needed some help. Keith was on a research vessel floating about somewhere in the Red Sea. Using a painfully slow ship-to-shore internet connection he emailed us asking for help.

Keith was headed for the docks in Sri Lanka for some brief repairs and was hoping that we could have some 122 different items waiting for him when he docked. While he didn't have the catalog or the ability to browse the Jameco website, he did have a very old catalog stored on his hard drive. (Download a catalog to your hard drive by clicking here.)

We looked through Keith's wish list and discovered a number of products we didn't carry. He pleaded with us to help since he was short on both time and vendors who could meet his unusual requirements.

Not our normal process, we felt Keith's pain and were touched by his predicament. We decided this was our chance for Jameco to “Part the Red Sea.” (Yeah, yeah I know it's weak, but you didn't think I was going to let this pun opportunity go by did you?)

We found a local store that had what we needed and went shopping for Keith to complete his order.

When he got to Sri Lanka, to hear Keith tell the story, it played out like a second-rate adventure movie with the local UPS delivery guy arriving just in the nick of time.

Keith got his products and Jameco chalked up another happy customer and what's more, it felt good. We pulled off no miracle, but somehow we won't be surprised if Keith and his research deliver some important miracles in the near future.

Have a business challenge we can help with? We can't move mountains or part seas, but we'll do our best to solve yours.

Greg Harris
Vice President of Marketing
[email protected]

Test Your IQ

Did you know that the first pinball game, then called Bagatelle, was first created by tilting a Billiard table in 18th century France? See if you can connect these pinball features to the dates they were first invented.

Multi Balls: 1871
Tilt: 1931
Flipper: 1934
Ball Shooter: 1947
Coin Operator: 1962

See if you are right.

Experimenting with a Luminescent Capacitor

By Forrest M. Mims III

CapacitorLuminescent materials are similar to capacitors as they can be "charged" with light, slowly releasing light but with a wavelength range that may not equal charging light. The difference is the discharge cycle of the luminescent material is spontaneous. Although a capacitor may experience some leakage, it's designed to discharge through some other external component.

Experiment with a self-discharging luminescent “capacitor” by using a CdS photoresistor or silicon photodiode to detect the light given off by a luminescent material after it has been charged by exposure to light.

This recipe will get you started.

Build Your Own Optical Theremin

Optical Theremin What's a Theremin you ask? Here's a hint: if you combine a college student, a reasonable amount of alcohol and some loud rock and roll music together, you inevitably will see someone who thinks they are using a Theremin. Still drawing a blank?

Few professional air guitar players realize that their instrument was patented back in 1928 when Russian inventor Leon Theremin, who presumably was a bit of a party animal himself, invented Thereminophone which generates tones by simply waving one's hands around two metal antennas.

Sound fun? Well in this Jameco Workshop project we are highlighting an project to take Theremin to the next level and create an optical version of the ultimate air instrument.

Watch some examples of a real theremin play in action and learn how to make one of your own.
Arduino Flasher

Getting Started with Arduino

Jameco Product Manager Ryan Winters is well versed in the business side of Jameco products, but is a relative novice when it came to designing his own circuits or programming a microcontroller chip. With little fear for his own safety, Ryan read one book (Getting Started with Arduino) and fired up his soldering iron.

See what he created here...

Tip of the Month

John Mastromoro has contributed to the My Story column in the past. Recall that earlier this year John suggested that every work bench should have a blob of Play-Doh at the ready to hold a breadboard in place while soldering or numerous other third-hand projects.

Well John has another tip this month to solve the frustrating cry in garages across the country, "What they heck is this thing?"

Keep track of your spare parts!

Jameco welcomes the contributions of its customers. Frankly, we think what you write is more interesting than anything we could write. Share your electronic component story, project, or challenge and we'll share it with the world. Send your story to [email protected]