Electronics Memories: Jameco Grab Bag to the Rescue

By Dan Herrington

It was one week before my wife's birthday and I had just found her the perfect gift. She has an extensive collection of cassette tapes that she still listens to today. For a long time she had said she wanted a "cute portable retro tape deck" (her words) to replace the boring modern one she has.

I found it while browsing a local thrift store. It was a pink Emerson CTR928. This thing was the epitome of "cute retro." I purchased the tape player and began to gift wrap it at home when I decided that perhaps I should check it out first and verify that it works.

When I plugged in the tape player, the most perfect gift for "She Who Must Be Obeyed" (as Dave Jones of eevblog.com calls his better half), it didn't work! Here I was, one week before her birthday, all ready to give her the perfect gift, and there was just one problem – it didn't work!

Upon disassembling the tape player, I found evidence of what appeared to be a botched attempt at a repair job. One of the main electrolytic capacitors had been replaced, but was put in backwards! So I got out my desoldering iron and removed it, flipped it around in the correct orientation... but it still didn't work.

Retro Tape Player
My wife's "cute portable retro tape deck," a pink Emerson CTR928.

I decided to remove the capacitor one more time, to test it in my multimeter cap meter, only to find that cap wasn't good. I had no replacement at the time, so I called Radio Shack and they didn't even have the correct value. I figured I was just out of luck.

The next morning, I was planning an outing to another local store in hopes of finding a replacement gift – although it wouldn't be nearly as perfect as that retro tape player. Before I left for my next shopping expedition, I decided to check the mail and found my Jameco order I had placed only half a week earlier.

In this order was my favorite Jameco product – the electronic components surprise grab bag! I went inside and tore the bag open and emptied it into a medium sized Tupperware container, which could barely hold all of the components. After a few minutes of sorting through them, I found the exact value of the capacitor I needed to repair the perfect gift for my beloved wife!

I soldered that puppy in and voilà! It's alive! It worked! I loaded the tape player with her favorite tape, Parliament Funkadelic's Cosmic Slop, and wrapped it up. One week later, thanks to Jameco, she had the most perfect pink, cute portable retro tape deck she could have ever wanted!

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Dan Herrington lives in the Midwest and now enjoys running a small repair businesses after retiring from eCommerce. His interests include amateur radio, experimental RF design, rebuilding vintage microprocessor systems and network security. Dan has been a Jameco customer since 2010.