Being self employed is a bit like
being on a treadmill.
For years and years I've been considering buying a spectrum analyser; nothing whatsoever to do with my business so I must be thinking of retirement?
I actually have one. It's a huge Hewlett
Packard thing which probably cost more than a 3 bedroom semi
when it was new. When I first got it I fiddled around and discovered
it was faulty. I got hold of a manual and removed the covers.
After peering at the innards for an hour so I gave up as it appeared
to be in need of a plumber rather than an electronics engineer.
Looking around for a new spectrum
analyser I found the Atten range from China and I was prepared
to buy their basic model until I discovered a tracking generator
is a really useful adjunct.
Then I noticed a better Atten model which seemed to have a better spec. and has a tracking generator. It's still made by the same Chinese company and the identical model is actually badged by some rather well known companies (at a much higher price of course).
I was all set to order one until
I found the UK price reflected the strength of the US dollar,
so I began to make notes of the prices every week or so. Then
I found the dollar suddenly began to get stronger and stronger
and prices began to rise so I put the intended purchase on hold.
Some time later, when the dollar had strengthened and I didn't like shelling out the extra cash I noticed that a different type of spectrum analyser had appeared on Ebay. This used a flat screen display, unlike the CRT used by the usual type. Unfortunately the price of the latest model made by Rigol was much higher than the cheapest Atten models, however, when I considered the real difference (a nice sharp colour image), I completely went off the CRT models.
One of the hazards of shopping on the Internet is buying from an offshore supplier. Unless you understand about customs duty and VAT, not to mention "handling charges", you're going to get a big shock when the package arrives.
Imagine my surprise when I looked for a Rigol, not on Ebay, my usual hunting ground, but on the Internet generally. There was a UK supplier of the Rigol instrument at a price almost the same as the cheapest Chinese dealer on Ebay.
I rang them and placed an order for a DSA815-TG and it arrived "post free as a result of my bargaining", two days later.
Although some Chinese suppliers
fiddle their customs declarations and insert words like "Gift",
"Value $25" etc it's always a gamble. Twenty percent
VAT on a piece of kit valued at £1,399 is £279.80,
not to mention carriage, which can also attract 20% VAT and UPS
red tape, often more than the "$25" value of the goods.
Now, having purchased my new spectrum
analyser, I'm all set to retire.
PS. I was watching the BBC documentary on the last Mars mission and blow me NASA was using a DSA815 instead of an eyewateringly expensive spectrum analyser.
Oh no!... a deliveryman struggling up the drive with a huge crate. Must be a broken drive unit for a lift. Still, it'll help pay for the new acquisition...
When I opened the crate I found an enormous drive unit for a lift. Why so big? Must be for a lift that takes a really heavy load?
There's a bit of paper inside the crate. That makes a change. Stuff usually arrives anonymously!
What does the note say... It's a drive unit from the Houses of Parliament. That explains the weighty load carried by the lift. All these free lunches and liquid refreshments.
And there's a note scribbled on the bottom. "Take your time they can use the stairs".