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Post details: Internet Order Frustrations

Internet Order Frustrations

Posted by: The Mad Scientist

I received my PIC programming kit and my EEPROM programming kit in the mail yesterday, and unfortunately I was disappointed by what I opened. Even though they weren't the cheapest source of DIY Electronics kits around, I ordered from because they promised that they had the very latest version of the DIY Electronics K149 USB/ Serial PIC programmer, the K149 version E. They were the only electronic kit supplier that promised to have the brand new version E kit, and I wanted to make sure that I got the best kit available that could program the most PICMicro microcontroller chips. When I received and opened my package from and looked at its contents however, I saw that they had sent me an older version D model of the kit, despite the fact that my invoice showed that I had ordered a version E.

Before getting all upset and using's toll-free number to jump down their throats, I decided that I would go to the DIY Electronics website,, and see what the difference was between the version D and E kits. After spending over an hour scouring the website and several different versions of the kit's documentation PDF files, I learned what the difference was between the version A, B, and C kits, but they did not list the differences between the version D and E kits. So maybe it was something major, or maybe it was something insignificant. I just didn't know.

I decided that since the only reason why I chose in the first place was because they promised to have the newest "E" version of the kit that I was going to demand either a new kit or a refund on principal. I was extremely aggravated that they dumped older inventory on me, and I wasn't about to let them get away with it. I called them up using their toll-free number, and got a very surprised sounding employee on the phone. I explained my situation, and he claimed that they must have accidentally sent me some older inventory by mistake. After some prodding, I was able to make the employee agree to mail an E version of the kit to me and to refund the shipping that I was going to have to pay to send their D version kit back to them. It was good that I was able to get them to exchange my kit, but now I am going to have to go through all of the hassle of repackaging it and sending it back to them, which is an extra activity that I didn't need. It would have been nice if they had just sent me the right kit in the first place!

Last night I was able to get ahold of the person who has the ASCII keyboard I need for my "Replica I" Apple I microcomputer clone, but I have not found this person to be the most comfortable person to deal with. Here I am, offering to pay top dollar for a 30 year old piece of computer junk, and he is not willing to take the time to test it. Instead he said to me, "It is untested and I don't have any time to set up a Apple II and try it out. It is sold 'as is' and untested. If you would rather look elsewhere that is fine by me." His take it or leave it attitude makes me kind of nervous. Unlike on eBay where you can check a seller's reputation, I found this guy through an online classified ad, so I have no way of checking how honest of a seller he is. Unfortunately, despite the high cost that he wants for the unit, it is the correct part that I need, and I have little choice but to buy it from him unless I want to delay my whole electronics project schedule by yet another month to locate another part. And since I only have 3 months time to go to build a working, talking, singing, and laughing cartoon fox, any further delay is not an option!

On a brighter note, the other day I also heard back from the scientist at Fermilab who is going to sell me an old Heathkit oscilloscope that I can use with my electronics projects. Since Fermilab is only about a mile away or so from my beloved American Science & Surplus store, the scientist and I plan to meet there sometime next week. It will be fantastic to finally be able to kit my hands on that oscilloscope, and I can't wait to start experimenting with it! I am sure that it will help me out a lot in my work!

Lastly, a couple nights ago I ordered the General Class and Extra Class FCC Amateur Radio License Exam preparation books written by Gordon West from I am currently a Technician Plus-class amateur radio operator, and my license expires later this year. Since my license class doesn't even exist anymore since the FCC changed the amateur radio license structure a few years ago, I decided that instead of just trying to re-new my license that I would take all of the exams I needed to get the highest license class there is-- the Extra class. I am already 5-WPM Morse Code certified, so all I have to do is take the written exams, and if I was able to become a Technician Plus operator back in junior high school I am sure that I can pass both the General and the Extra class license exams now. Once I get those exam preparation books I am going to knuckle down and study my rear end off with them, and hopefully I will be an Extra class amateur radio operator by either September or October! And since amateur radio has a heavy emphasis on learning electronics, I am sure that studying for these exams will help me become a much better electronics designer and robot builder as well!

In any case, hopefully all of my Internet order woes will work out for the better in the end, and that I will still be able to build Foxee on time for her tentative Midwest Furfest debut. This will definitely prove to be a great challenge to me, and hopefully it will prove to be an even greater triumph! As always, comments are welcome-- I always love to hear what others think about my work!


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