From D.E.Coleman (Brighton, Sussex):
Regarding J. Bull; I have dealt with this firm, not only at their present address, but also by mail order before they moved down here. Like Mr. Sandle, I have bought customer returns and have been very successful in repairing them. I have found the staff very helpful on the rare occasions I have visited them since they moved to Portland Road in Hove. More recently they have opened another shop in Boundary Road, Hove (on the Portslade border), and although this shop stocks a similar range to the Portland Road one, they do not always have everything in stock and you could find yourself having to go back to the Portland Road shop to complete your requirements.
I understood that the Boundary Road shop was intended as the retail outlet of the business with the goods on display so that you could walk round and inspect them for yourself, leaving the Portland Road shop as the mail order depot with very little on display, apart from a few items in the window. However, when I last visited the Boundary Road shop in September, it had changed its name to M and B Electronics. There seemed to be little change in the goods on display, but I do not know whether it now has any connection with J. Bull (or Bull Electrical as they now call themselves).
With regard to the question of shopping on behalf of other members, while I appreciate the problems of the high postage charge coupled with a minimum order of £5, a look through even the abbreviated list in their advertisements shows that many of the items are large and/or heavy and/or fragile, and I would not be prepared to purchase and pack these, bearing in mind that the firm is doubtless insured (which I am not) and probably more expert in sending goods by mail. I do not visit this area of Brighton and Hove very often, and parking for both shops is rather difficult. In addition, I feel I should mention that the goods from Electrovalue are new, whereas Bull Electrical deal in customer returns, factory and other surplus, faulty items, etc. In my opinion, many of the goods sold by this firm should be inspected before purchase, and I would not wish to be involved if goods should be found unsatisfactory. I am sorry I cannot help my fellow members in their dealings with Bull Electrical, but I am sure you will appreciate that it is not just a matter of buying a few small packets and sending them off in an envelope.
Could I suggest that the Newsletter might have a "Question and Answer" section? I know that members ask questions from time to time and you ask other members for answers, but if the answer is given privately that is not much help to other members who might be interested. I realise that it might not be possible to print question and answer in the same Newsletter, but it would help if we could read both sides of the problem.
At the moment I have a problem with a cassette/radio. The radio will only work if it is tuned exactly to a station, and at the moment I have to move the tuner slowly and keep switching it on and off until I arrive at a station - once a signal is detected all is well, but as soon as I try to move to another station the set goes dead. can any member give me some idea where I should look for this fault ? It sounds a bit like a switch defect, but I don't quite see how.
Editor's note: Of course I agree that no member could be expected to act as a mailing agency, for all the cogent reasons that Mr. Coleman gives. This arises from Brian Marshall's offer, recorded in the April Newsletter, to purchase small items from Electrovalue and send them to members. The Idea was to help someone living far from any electronics shop who needs an IC or other small component for which the postal and/or handling charge would far exceed the cost of the component. I followed this up by asking if either of our Brighton members would be willing to shop at Bull Electrical for members, without perhaps considering the situation more carefully, as Mr. Coleman has done. Subscribers to "Everyday Electronics" will have received a free copy of the Bull Electrical l99l catalogue, and although there is no minimum order value, the postal charge of £2.50 means that one must spend a fair amount to offset this charge.
Details of members' problems with electronic equipment have certainly appeared in many past issues of the Newsletter, but the answers have generally not appeared unless the editor could supply them off the cuff. The difficulty is to get the answer to the editor for inclusion in the Newsletter if it has been sent directly to the enquirer. There are three ways of getting round the difficulty. The person responding to the enquiry could send his answer to the editor for onward transmission to the enquirer, which would mean more work for the editor (unwelcome), or he could send a copy to the editor (involving the responder in extra work and expense - also undesirable), or the person receiving the reply to his problem could send details to the editor to express his gratitude - and could also at the same time tell him if the problem had been satisfactorily solved. I feel that the last alternative would be the most sensible, though I must say that nowadays expressions of gratitude are sometimes regarded as a bit old fashioned.
So - if you have an answer to Mr. Coleman's problem with his radio, please write to him. I have already mentioned a possible solution to him. But if anyone has a problem with commercial equipment, it helps greatly to give the make and model/type number of the equipment (and the approximate date of manufacture).
From E.A.Matthews (Great Bookham, Surrey):
Brian Reed sent me his catalogue in the autumn, soon after his move to his new home address (with sufficient space to operate his business from). Not only was his Battersea shop rent and overcrowding becoming impossible, but he was also commuting from Worcester Park. But in dealing with him I have sometimes found the quality of the goods or the percentage of duds not entirely satisfactory. He always offered the promise of exchange for returns, but the aggro involved never seemed quite worth it.
From J.Sheader (Brackley, Northants):
Cirkit Distribution Ltd. (Park Lane, Broxbnurne, Herts ENlO 7NQ) sell a range of 38 digit multimeters at very reasonable prices (£19.99 to £57.49).* I bought one which covers quite a large range - V, I, R. u, f, diode and HFE test - with quite good accuracy, and with a one year guarantee. While I am well satisfied with it, the instruction book does say that the meter is unrepairable, so care in use is required !
Specialist Semiconductors Ltd. (Founders House, Redbrook, Monmouth, Gwent NP5 4LU) sell a limited number of items and kits for certain electronic magazine projects. Their kit prices are high (£37 for an ioniser) and the instructions they issue - the magazine article reduced from A4 to A5 - have indecipherable print in places. Credit notes are issued for items no longer stocked and requests for cash refunds ignored. Not good for business !
Editor's note. Members' comments on retailers and mail order suppliers are most helpful, and I hope they will continue to come in. Brian Reed's catalogue was mentioned in the October Newsletter, which gave his address. I would like also to include more comments on kit suppliers, as I know the service they offer varies considerably from firm to firm. Beginners in particular find this sort of information valuable.
The Cirkit winter catalogue is now available from W.H.Smith at £1.60 or direct from Cirkit at the same price. There is a sales counter at the Broxbourne headquarters, and another at 53 Burrfields Road, Portsmouth. Cirkit sell a good selection of kits, ranging from simple projects to short wave transceivers. Those I have had contained good quality PCBs and components and came with adequate instructions.
*The current price of an Avo 8 Mk 7 is £268 - if you want a leather case for it that will be another £68 (and it can be repaired - at a price).