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New feature – What’s new in electronics catalogs – Jameco SAFETY & SECURITY!

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I think it’s time for a new feature here on MAKE – our review (and yours) on electronics catalogs – as makers we all get dozens of catalogs from Jameco, Mouser, Digikey and more – so let’s all comment on these “bibles” that fill our shelves and toilet tanks. We get our parts from these, we thumb through them – but does anyone actually pay attention to what they’re trying to tell us? Who knows – here’s the first one is the one that arrived in my mailbox today – Jameco!

The Jameco 281 – February 2008 edition (wow, 280 of these before this!). The theme is safety, there’s a giant safe on the cover – safes = security folks. If you’re going to order from Jameco you can choose savings or security (it’s a choice of both). There are cheaper parts from no-name folks, that might be ok for a hobby project but when you’re doing something else you might want to consider some name brand options, more so if you’re company doesn’t put up with generic brands and need some type of certifications/standards. It’s like going to the pharmacy, the generics are probably ok – but who are you going to sue if things go wrong? Oh, the catalog weighs in at a nice 208 pages (zoomable photos here).

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Inside the cover there is a team of tiny people that are working safely on a circuit board. The one in the middle is about to do something with that capacitor while the other is telling him what to do, the other guy is just hanging out in his yellow hat, likely a contractor. Jameco is against asterisks, they don’t have them and the darts speak for themselves I think. The safe is back, they’re not going to let you forget about security just yet.

Overall I think this is what I expect and want from an electronics catalog, some stock photos that end up being charming more than anything else along with some bold campaigns against symbols that usually mean bad things (the asterisk, we hate them!). Good work Jameco.

Ok, makers your turn – if you got this catalog post your comments up. Next week will likely be Mouser or Digikey. If you want to do a review hit us up on email.

More:
Jameco (10x of what’s in the catalog online) – Link.

28 thoughts on “New feature – What’s new in electronics catalogs – Jameco SAFETY & SECURITY!

  1. Being a purchasing manager by day I have a shelf full of these things, and when a new one comes in I dutifully recycle the one it replaces. But you know what? I never use them. Why bother when I can use Mousers search engine to find whatever I’m looking for in milliseconds? They do look impressive on my shelf though, and their industrial supply counterparts, like MSC, make great book ends.

  2. Now rather than review catalogs, which while a perfectly valid use of time, space and bandwidth, seems more like a runway competition – my glossy catalog is better than yours. It just seems to me that for the home MAKE viewers, something more useful and productive would be a review of the companies behind the catalogs.

    As a MAKEr, what should I be looking at this company for? Do they have the best selection of gears? Unusual items I can’t find elsewhere? Is the price the best? Do they have the nicest sales people? Is something in the catalog a must see or a must have? Can I view the catalog online? I need to stop myself, I’m starting to describe something really useful that people would keep around as a reference.

    Like everyone else, I have the shelves full of catalogs. The problem is, when I want a micro-cylinder to MAKE a mechanical finger to press the remote control button for me, where can I get it? More importantly, where SHOULD I get it? That’s what I was hoping to see. The catalog runwalk is ok too, I guess.

  3. I like my mouser catalog. The Thompson Five’s right on this one, but what I’ll do is:

    a) use online search to find generic part & page number
    b) look up page number in catalog to browse section and see all varients
    c) place order online
    d) ???
    e) profit!

    Maybe I’m just weird, but I think catalogs serve two purposes. From a marketing standpoint, they serve to enhance brand recognition and top-of-mind awareness. For two, they solve what I call the ‘tactile problem’.

    I first encountered the ‘tactile problem’ when my company was converting all their paper manuals to PDF. It was great for the environment, great for the franchisees we were selling them to, but when you spend 100k or more and you only walk away with some discs…well…people cease to see the value.

    People in physical trades (especially old school techies) want a physical medium. Sending catalogs solves this problem, because you get the ease and convenience of online ordering

      and

    it fills the physical gap. Sure, you can’t have the part right now, but you can see it in front of you on the catalog page (not just the screen) and you feel assured it’s coming, thusly placating the instant gratification mentality and reducing buyer’s remorse.

    Sorry for going all ‘marketing speak’ on you, but that’s why I feel we still have catalogs.

  4. Jameco rocks.

    Yes their catalog is amusing (the “no asterisks” thing kicks butt), but everyone here should give them a chance on the merits of what they sell. One thing to note is that their catalog is thin– it doesn’t have everything, and they tend to heavily rotate through which things are displayed in the catalog.

    More so than any other major electronics chain, they are “maker friendly” and sell hobbyist oriented things that are far outside of what you’ll find at Digi-Key or Mouser. One area that they really shine in is robotics components– you can find a selection of small stepper and gearhead motors, servo motors, Lego Mindstorms (!). They also carry electronic soldering kits, unusual LEDs including giant 7-segment displays, a $60 circuit board drill press, and the list goes on.

    The *real* reason that I often find myself shopping there, however, is that on certain types of components, I can get a *very good* Jameco-brand equivalent for 25% of the Digi-Key price, usually on generic parts where the version from Digi-key seems overpriced anyway. (Example: why does Digi-key gouge $0.60 for a gold-plated 6-pin DIL header?)

    Also: If you’re in the San Francisco area, you can call them up and get your parts in an hour by will call. =)

  5. Online ordering has become a major pain due to one thing: shipping.

    I want $1.50 worth of parts and I have to pay $8 to get it. Pah! Sure, I could wait until I have a big order, but that’ll take like 3 years at my rate.

    RadioShack is usually useless.

  6. Sparkfun Electronics will ship via first class mail- I have ordered stuff from them (no minimum) and paid as little as $2-3 for shipping! They have a lot of cool stuff, too.

  7. I would like to see some kind of movement to reject paper catalogues- who uses them anymore anyway? I keep telling Digikey to stop sending them, and they do stop for a year or so, and then they start again.

    There’s a whole lot of wasted paper in one of those Digikey catalogues, and whole lot of oil being expended to ship them.

    So put me down for vote one on the “no paper catlaog” campaign.

  8. PS Phil:

    why don;t you also do a survey of the packaging used by the big companies? Sometimes I get a half pound of leftover plastic from a big order. Maybe we can bring a little publicity to it to change their ways. Digikey does use Geami, which rocks. Maker Power!

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