I spent the last post gassing about what was wrong with my order from the Idiom Press people. Turns out, I was a decade late and $95 short. Seems this is part of the Idiom Press culture; those folks have been doing that since at least 2004 so far as I can determine. There are a number of threads abroad on the internet -- some dating from as long ago as 2004 -- complaining about their lackadaisical, cavalier business mien.
Most threads start with the interrogatory, "Is Idiom Press still in business; I just placed an order and.." followed by several respondents relating similar anecdotes and subsequent replies strangely savaging the original messages for not having enough patience or relating how the son has taken over the business and "needs time to catch up".
Give them a break? Give me a break!
A very representative thread of this discourse can be found on, strangely enough, an Elecraft e-mail forum -- it includes a verbose lecture from W7AQK that just screams of "no, I have not done business with Idiom Press":
What a lot of folks don't realize is that a great many of the amateur radio suppliers, and especially the QRP type suppliers, are "one man operations"! As such, they don't have a particularly organized and sophisticated ordering and shipping process. Accordingly, if you are in a particular hurry, or need something quickly from one of these very small companies, you should talk to them personally and make sure you are going to receive your order in the timeframe you are expecting. There are a thousand reasons why it might take longer than you expect to fill your order. Most of these little companies are operating out of their garages, or similarly small space, and parts coming in versus things going out can be an issue. I'm not making excuses for bad service, but so many of these operations are reliant on their receiving the necessary parts, which they really can't control. They can't afford to maintain large inventories of parts, so a sudden rush of orders probably means a lag time that would normally be considered unacceptable.You go in business, advertise a product and you either deliver or you respond to e-mail inquiries as to timeliness of the order-filling process or an explanation re parts shortages, etc. I would just salivate to see W7AQK order something from those folks and then try to phone them up for a status. That's the point, dummy! They do not respond.
Bottom line, if you are in a big hurry, call them and talk to them personally to find out what delay might be in the offing! I know, some of these operations promise more than they can handle, but most of them, I think, try to be reasonably forthright in their advertising. In any event, If time is of the essence, I'd be verifying things with them personally.
Well, I was able to get a SCAF-1 from my very good friend, Dick, WB6JDH, last weekend. I took it home and hooked it up and heard..
Turns out somewhere in the handling of the unit, the two 5.1V zeners that comprise the -5VDC supply took a dirt nap. And for the sake of honesty, it probably wasn't Dick who did the dirty but rather yours truly, Mr Heavy Hands. So I still have a ways to go to test this unit and give a competent review. Although I will say this: it's a low-pass filter and I am prepared to not be as impressed with it's performance as I was. (But, I am prepared to be surprised.)
Enough sucking lemons. I want to hand a out a mighty kudos to folks like Dick and to those hams you seem to bump into all over. Another soldier in the Idiom Press Wars is Joe, K3JLS, who has come to be a very fine acquaintance. Seems he scored a manual for the SCAF-1 and is generously sending me a copy in the mail. I will be scheming and plotting how I can get even with such a fine gentleman. But, to me, guys like Joe and Lou (the progenitor of the two noise bridges I wrote so much about earlier) and Dick are what make this hobby worthwhile.
Also, here's a little tidbit to look for if you are traipsing around a swap meet or see it pop up on eBay: The Ramsey AF-1 CW filter kit. It is out of production, I believe, but is a rare exception to the old saw about Ramsey kits being trash. If you can score one, then my advice is to pounce! The manual for the kit is here.
More on this and gentlemen like Joe and Dick and how really great ham radio is.