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Author Topic: Maplins Kits  (Read 31097 times)

Spann

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Maplins Kits
« on: October 22, 2010, 08:15:56 AM »

Just a quick warning to anyone who uses Velleman/Maplin electronic kits: I spoke to a couple of staff members in my local Maplin today (Wrexham, if you're interested). I was looking for their electronics kits just to have a nose at, and one of the staff members told me they'd stopped doing them. Now, I will admit I did actually find them (God forbid a man who works in a shop knowing where stuff is in it), but they were in the 'clearance' section - Might be worth picking stuff up if you use them.
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Gordonjcp

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2010, 10:20:01 AM »

There are other companies that stock them in the UK - http://www.esr.co.uk seems to have a good selection and reasonable prices.

What a shame Maplin seem to be determined to turn into yet another mobile phone and crap stereo shop.  I just picked up a box of old Hobby Electronics magazines, with full-page Maplin ads on the back cover.  I'll scan one in later to show you.  For those who don't remember Maplin in the 70s and 80s (very late 70s in my case) it was a wonderful place full of bits that would make any circuit-bender fall to his knees and weep.
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2010, 12:06:58 PM »

bit off topic, but i was looking through the CPC catalogue today and it appears that they now sell coffee! CPC were never that far away from what Maplins has now become, but coffee?

I remember when my local Maplins was more like an Argos store, just a long counter, a load of order forms and pens to steal, and a mysterious room upstairs that apparently contained the gateway to some electronics Narnia.
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Ciderfeks

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 01:56:27 PM »

a load of order forms and pens to steal

It's you that's got all the pens!! My Maplins shop has a "Closed" sign permanently in place at the components counter and you have to go and persuade a member of staff to stop re-arranging phone accessories or toys if you want anything. That said there are a couple of members of staff in there with a fantastic knowledge of electronics and are always happy to help - in fact they often look pleased to be talking about something other than returned goods...
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Spann

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2010, 01:04:16 AM »

As a rule, there are two types of staff in my Maplins: Till Monkeys and Part Gremlins.

The Part Gremlins usually skulk around the multimeters waiting for someone who doesn't just want "One of them cables what mean I can watch internet on the telly" (A direct quote), and the Till Monkeys are the sorts of people who were coming in the shop two months ago for one of those self same cables.

Of course, the fact that they claim to have managed to get the internet on their telly means that they immediately get a job there.
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phantompowers

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2010, 09:29:29 AM »

I asked in my local Maplins if they were discontinuing the Velleman kits and they said they weren't because they sell too well. So, unfortunately no clearance section cheap kits.
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jamiewoody

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 05:49:08 PM »

velleman kits are cheap...my neighbor went to electronic school. the head of the program almost chewed him out for  buying one of those kits for his final project.  in just looking at the circuit board, everything is so small, the resistors, caps etc are so tiny you need a magniying glass just to see them.

you have to be ESPECIALLY careful not to overheat things with these kits!
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Gordonjcp

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2010, 08:43:33 AM »

I'm looking at a Velleman kit I picked up on the clearance rack at one of the local Maplins shops.  Nothing looks particularly small, and the board is actually quite good quality.  I don't see how you'd overheat any of the bits, unless you were trying to solder with a blowtorch or just plain left the tip on the joint too long.

Incidentally, to solder the massive 1/4W resistors I needed to back out and buy a much larger tip for my iron, but that's because at work I rarely see anything bigger than this:

http://www.gjcp.net/~gordonjcp/capacitor.jpg

(about 1mm by 2mm, little surface-mount capacitor in a Kenwood transceiver).  I hate working on these huge, clumsy thought-hole components. 
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voodoolikeudoo

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2011, 06:11:29 PM »

The Maplins in Manchester actually had some voice vandal kits in the clearance basket a couple of weeks back. The guy said they had found them in a back room or something. I got 2  :)
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listener85

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2011, 11:12:27 PM »

I was one of the Maplin kit designers back in the early to mid 80's and it makes me sad to see that the kits that once made Maplin so important to hobbyists and all those starting out in electronics are pretty much gone.
It was CE legislation that had a big part in killing the kit culture, with sales of individual kits already fairly low it just wasn't worth doing the testing and work necessary for a technical file and CE declaration for many kits, and the wonderful range of kits we developed in Essex came to a sudden close.
Older enthusiasts may remember the Maplin synthesisers, the Matinee organ, the unburstable 150W Mosfet amp.... I was deeply involved in the weather satellite system sold in the mid 80's that consisted of a 137 MHz radio receiver, a down converter for the UHF Meteosat transmissions, a WEFAX decoder and (my baby) a Z80 and Yamaha graphics processor based frame store that displayed the satellite images on a TV or monitor.
They were great days for the hobbyist, and I sometimes wonder how many of those old kits have survived to the modern day.
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Circuitbenders

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2011, 02:47:51 AM »

It makes me sad to see what Maplins has become full stop, not just because of all the cool kits and other weird stuff being discontinued.

I went in my local branch today to find that a single sub-minature toggle switch now costs £2.50! No wonder they have to sell so many crappy remote control helicopters and gold plated HDMI connectors, they can't be selling many components at those prices.

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jamiewoody

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2011, 01:06:47 AM »

it's kinda like what happened to radioshack. i remember when they were cool, and more for the hobby-ist, not some dork trying to sell you a set of car speakers when all you want is a 4 watt replacement speaker...
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parricide

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2011, 02:29:03 AM »

i think the problem these days is supply and demand. everyone wants the "cables that let them watch internet on the TV" and the bigger companies will supply this because its where the money comes from.
lets face it. on average, the amount of people going into a maplin shop for components is tiny compared to people going for "them cables" or anything else along those lines.
its a shame really.
i think rapid need to build a shop near me :)
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Jack89

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2011, 02:36:12 AM »

I went into a Maplins in Leeds today with a mate to try and find a couple of very basic components to mod a gameboy but in the end realised i didn't really have a clue what i was on about as i have only just started really looking into circuit bending. The kits looked amazing i had no idea they sold stuff like that, i was so excited picking them all up looking at what they did i cant wait to get some and start tinkering and experimenting with them. Its a shame to hear that they used to have a lot more things like this and that they are even thinking of discontinuing them. Will just have to stock up when my student loan comes through!
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xvsqn

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Re: Maplins Kits
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2011, 01:11:18 PM »

I bought a kit and a cheap soldering iron from Maplin today. It’s taught me a lot about soldering…. And accident repair ! 

I got most of the way through the kit, then right at the end I made a mess of soldering a capacitor, accidently leaving the soldering iron on the capacitor legs for too long and it ended up melting away the 2 solder pads on the PCB. Aggggh!

Once the solder pads were gone there was no way of attaching the capacitor to the PCB. I thought I had ruined it, the kit cost me £’s and here on the Moray Firth coast, the nearest Maplin is an hours drive there and an hours drive back ! And the kit is of sentimental value as I planned to give it away as a gift to a close friend.

This caused me to do some research on the internet, that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I managed to salvage the kit by
1) scraping away at the PCB with a prong of a fork to reveal the copper tracks,
2) I then tinned the copper tracks using a straightened paper clip heated up by the soldering iron (the paperclip being smaller than the tip of the iron),
3) then I bent the capacitor legs over the top of the tracks and soldered the capacitor legs on to the tracks. Well, you learn something new every day :-)

Hats off to the guy on this forum who used to design the kits. I wish I had the electronic know how. Maybe one day. 

I'm still struggling with the soldering though. It goes everywhere apart from where I want it to. And I've had many burnt fingers. All part of the fun I suppose.
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