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Maplin Electronics in the USA?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by usalabs, Oct 21, 2016.

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  1. usalabs


    Oct 21, 2016
    OK, I was searching the net, and come across this forum, where someone asked if there was a Maplin Electronics in the USA, and the replies were something to the affect of 'There is no Maplin in the USA' so I would like to take this opportunity to explain why:-

    Americans are very, very paranoid, and if someone sees a garage made into an electronics workshop, and see shelves and shelves of components, the immediate thought is the person/hobbyist is making bombs or espionage equipment, and it's un-natural for civilians to be electronics hobbyists, and only the government or military are allowed to build with as many parts.

    I used to live in the UK, and while I was there I used to have a Maplin catalog, and I even had a spare room I used for my projects, try that here in the USA, and I'm more likely to get arrested and taken to a federal holding until the government as 100% satisfied I'm not doing what 'THEY' think I might be doing, but in the UK, I used to build projects for myself, and at one point, I even converted an electronic xmas tree lighting that used 50Hz, zero switching thyristors for controlling the lights and instead of using a constant 50Hz, I replaced that with an sine wave generator, utilizing variable frequency and still be able to use the thyristors to switch at zero level, so for as long as the wave form swing 0 -> 2V -< 0, then thrystors would only switch when the wave form reaches the zero point, to avoiding unwanted radio interference. Heck, I even built an FM converter for an old SW receiver, can I do any of that here? "No freakin way".

    I wanted to continue my hobby here in the USA, but because of the heightened paranoia, I can't, so now I just,,,,,,,,,,,,do nothing.

    They say everyone has to have a hobby, yeah right,,,,,if you're an electronics hobbyist, DON'T live in the USA.
    Arouse1973 likes this.
  2. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
    Sorry, but I think it is you that is paranoid. I have been building electronics projects for 50 years, and not a single visit from the FBI.

    The reason we don't have electronics retail stores in the U.S. is purely economic. To make money at it the prices have to be 10X to 100X what we can get online.

    hevans1944, Jouellet and davenn like this.
  3. usalabs


    Oct 21, 2016
    I don't know how, because 2 years a go, I bought a small shack and put it in the garden, and started to order bulk parts, including FeCl3 (known as Ferric Chloride Hexahydrate) for PCB etching, and 2 weeks later I got a visit from the EPA wanting to know if I'm a registered pharmacist, and seeing that I wasn't they removed the Ferric crystals and told me I could be arrested for storing volatile chemicals without the required license and precautions, and the FBI wanting to know what I was doing with all those parts, I was thoroughly checked while I was in a federal detention center for 2 months, not charged with anything, but the FBI can and do detain people under the patriot act, so, eventually, they found I wasn't related to or even associated with anyone that they consider 'bad individuals' and was released, but they took all my stuff and told me unless I sign a document stating that anything I build would be scrutinized, or I wouldn't be allowed to continue my hobby, so I just gave up, and now I'm saving up to return back to the UK, where I can rebuild my hobby, without 'BIG BROTHER WATCHING'.
  4. Herschel Peeler

    Herschel Peeler

    Feb 21, 2016
    Well, it is good to see big brother is watching. Bob and I seem to have a different experience. You must have been buying n quite a quantity to get noticed. I've been doing electronics for 50 years also and nobody has come to visit me.
    And yes, I agree selling transistors and Is does not cover the cost of a business. I don't know how big Maplin is. They must be a UK company. They still have a web site and carry more than small parts. Prices quoted in pounds.
  5. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
    You need a good lawyer, then. A false arrest suit would be a no brainet if what happened is as you say.

    The government cannot hold people for two months without charges.

  6. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Hmmm. I am guessing @usalabs doesn't like the increased security and vigilance here in the United States of America, prompted in part by the destruction of the World Trade Center by a few disgruntled individuals whose only "weapons" were a few box cutters and a few large commercial airplanes topped off with fuel for a transcontinental flight. So, prior to that event, for the cost of a ticket and a threatening demeanor, you too could be infamous.

    Closer to home, and years earlier, disgruntled American terrorist Timothy McVeigh managed to remove the entire side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing many men, women, and children in the process. He did this with fertilizer and kerosene. It was a wake-up call to keep better tabs on chemicals and such that could possibly be used for nefarious purposes. For example, the terrorist today seems to favor disposable cell phone detonators since these don't require self-immolation to further their "cause". I would not recommend that you try to purchase "burner" phones in case-lot quantities.

    I don't know how much ferric chloride you had on hand, or how you planned to safely dispose of it, if used to etch copper-clad circuit boards. Clearly, the EPA keeps tabs on such things. All of the PCB houses in Dayton OH went out of business years ago, in part because of the stringent EPA regulations they could not profitably abide with. Our loss, China's gain. OTOH, I noticed that some of the few Radio Shacks still in business here in Dayton would sell me a pint bottle at an outrageous price, no questions asked.

    I am sorry to hear about your experience with the FBI. I think it was Ben Franklin who wrote in a letter, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Homeland Security and the FBI tend to lean towards Safety and the Patriot Act does cast a gimlet eye on Liberty, ignoring it for the sake of security. I doubt the UK is far behind in using surveillance to keep track of people, so your hobby might not even be safe there.

    Old Ben's quote is taken out of context. What he was really complaining about was the failure of government to raise taxes to defend the American frontier from Indian attacks. How this only recently became corrupted by liberals to mean a warning against the Police State is up for speculation. It was all about the money then, as it is now, as can easily be seen by people's desire to collect lots of Benjamins ($100 denomination United States of America paper currency).

    I think Bob and Herschel have similar experiences to my own. I have been an electrical/electronics hobbyist since the 1950s, and like most hobbyists, I have accumulated a considerable quantity of (mostly) obsolete parts. But I am also a native-born American citizen who has held very high clearances for access to classified information. To get that, my entire life history and current activities had to be open for review by the U.S. Government. To keep the clearances active, I had to be employed by a government contractor performing classified work. Even that was not enough: I also had to have a "need to know" to perform my duties to obtain access to classified information. As Reagan told Gorbachev: Trust, but verify.

    The United States has very porous borders. We let almost anyone in. Most don't even have to swim a river or trek across desert sands, although some do. We seldom send anyone back who doesn't want to go. So now comes someone from the UK who arrives without any background investigation, who then proceeds to purchase "controlled items" without bothering to investigate the consequences. What's Homeland Security supposed to do? Trust? Verify? Look the other way?

    I wouldn't be so sure of that. The Patriot Act is pretty broad and its sunset provisions have been replaced by new legislation (USA Freedom Act) that extends most of the original Act through 2019. As to what can be done to detain anyone, especially aliens, suspected of being a "terrorist" or "potential terrorist"... well, you would have to read the original "weasel words" in both Acts... and consult a few good lawyers, which are expensive, especially for someone who only wanted to etch a few circuit boards and pursue their electronics hobby.

    Sadly, the world has become a much more dangerous place. I could be wrong, but i think most Americans now want the Government to err on the side of caution. Guilty until you prove your innocence. I have no solution to this unprecedented reversal of attitude.

  7. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    a lot of paranoia in this thread

    time to close
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