Dollar Store Busts

After stopping by the local Harbor Freight today and finding myself un-enthused by the offerings, I poked my head into the adjacent dollar store to see if there were any interesting electronic items that would be interesting to take apart. I came away with three hopefuls: an electronics kitchen timer, a 4-function calculator, and an 1/8″ to cassette adapter.

Dollar Store Spoils. Total Cost: $3, of course.

The first victim of the hobby knife and screwdriver was the kitchen timer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the most interesting of the three items, having a whole four accessible components: a button cell battery, a piezo-electric element, an oscillator crystal (measured at be around 33 Khz) and a tiny SMD capacitor. (I’m not counting the LCD display.) All that, and a solder blob. Perhaps the piezo and crystal will be useful for something.

Next, the calculator. This one was even more inaccessible: one solder blobbed chip and a battery. Oh, and a tiny SMD cap as well. I assume this is a calculator on a chip.

Finally, the tape adapter. This one has no accessibly parts at all, just a direct connection to the magnetic tape head and a gearing arrangement to fool the tape drive into thinking all’s well.


So much for dollar store teardowns. But hey, I got two button cells with clips, a piezo buzzer, a little crystal, and some good fun out of it.

In brighter news, I did pick up a nifty old Crescendo Systems RTC2000 for a couple bucks from FreeGeek today. It’s apparently an old component to RGB converter, but that doesn’t really matter: what I really want is the case. I think it’s a nice form factor for a little field radio – I figure I’ll punch through the rear panel and use that as the face plate, or maybe ask the folks down at the Harold Washington Maker Space to help cut a new faceplate.

Hear you on the Air.