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The Answers: Why pay $1,300 for an unbuilt Heathkit? Why be a Broadcast Engineer?

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The Human side of Technology

Behind those people who have a passion for what they do – be that engineering or otherwise – there is sometimes a very human story. It’s too bad that education in electronics and engineering do not tell any human stories of the people behind engineering.

You can find these stories but they are not in the books that engineers typically read or the education that is provided in formal engineering courses.

Why would anyone pay $1300 for an un-built Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver ?

So, on my perusal of e-bay one day I saw that someone bid in excess of $700 for a un-built Heathkit radio. Up for bid was a Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver. I picked up that same radio for $25. Why would anyone bid $700+ for a 40+ year old box parts?

Well, the e-bay auction closed with a winning bid of $1,378.57.

I posted an article about the auction on this site. The winning bidder of the Heathkit GR-54 found us.

So, do you want to know why someone would pay $1,300+ for a box of parts?

Here is the explanation of the winning bidder, Mark Grandy WD8RJJ, on why he bought the radio. It’s a great story

I am surprised to find comments regarding the GR-54 which I purchased a few years ago. Yes, I’m the guy who paid almost $1400.00 for a box of parts…. I thought you’d like to know why.

Read the entire article and Mark’s story here

Why be a Broadcast Engineer?

That question was posed to me this afternoon by a coworker. It is, indeed, a good question. Certainly, broadcast engineering is more of a vocation than a career, especially where it concerns radio stations. Why would anyone work for low wages, long hours, little or no recognition, 24/7 on call, and or unappreciative management.

Further, in this risk adverse, zero defect, micromanaged environment, what is the upside to being a radio, RF or broadcast engineer?

Another great question.  And, another great answer from Paul Thurst

Read Paul’s reason  here and visit his excellent website here: http://www.engineeringradio.us/blog/

Too bad books on electronics engineering do not tell the human side of technology. Too bad many engineers don’t seek out these stories and preserve them.  Too bad that executives as well as society and media sometimes casts engineering into the stereotype of geek and nerds (read) (read)

What could be learned if more engineers could tell stories like Mark and Paul?  There is more to engineering than a passion for technology and this is the reason that certain people persist in vocations, careers, and jobs even, in some cases, as Paul puts it “[they work for] low wages, long hours, little or no recognition, 24/7 on call, and or unappreciative management.  Or, even as Mark demonstrated, they pay $1300+ for an old box of parts.  For Mark the Heathkit which he bought has far more value as emotion and remembrance than simply a box of parts from a once great company.  The value, in non-technical terms, is the difference between what he paid ($1,300) and the salvage value of the parts, perhaps $25.

Where are the rest of these stories of passion, dedication, and a drive for excellence?

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Written by frrl

March 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

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