Friday, July 22, 2011

Lebanese electronics shops: the TSOP experience.

As everybody working with electronics in Beirut would agree. We don't have a great accessibility for components and IC's. If I am dealing with non common components, I don't even bother looking around in the local electronics hardware shops that we have (Katranji, Incotel, Boujikian, Narinco, etc.) I wait till I gather a big list and I order my components from abroad (that is an extra 50-100$ added to the bill).

I will not talk about shipping in this post, however I will be talking about the wonderful experience one has to deal with in our lovely local electronics shops.

Starting with Boujikian, all I can provide you is a simple advice: if you have an Armenian friend, tag him along with you.

Now I would like to share a nice story. A few weeks ago I was building an IR remote control emitter/receiver circuit (I will provide info for the circuit in another post). So I needed to buy an IR receiver chip TSOP1738 that only works with carrier frequency of 38KHz. Perfect.

First thing: Check Katranji's website if they have the component. (+3points to katranji for having a website) However the website search engine sucks, so you have to look manually for the part (-1pt). After not finding the part on their website. You would grab your component name/number and head to Jneh in the middle of the traffic jam and heat. Once you get there, don't expect to be treated well. Sometimes don't expect to be treated at all. (-1pt). I was lucky enough to find a decent help, lets call him Nabil (hypothetical name for a hypothetical person)
-Bassam: Can I have the following component please.
Nabil stares at his monitor for 5 minutes only to tell me that they don't have it.
-Bassam: Do you have anything equivalent. TSOP18...21.. wlek 28... anything at all...
Nabil stares at his monitor again 5 minutes only to tell me that they don't have.
-Bassam: But sometimes my friends come to get some phototransistors, and you either end up giving them photodiodes or TSOP chips (true story), so I am sure you have something equivalent.
Nabil goes backstage for 5 min and comes back with a TSOP looking chip (not TSOP thou).
-Bassam: Ok great so what is the name/number of this chip? 
Nabil stares at his monitor for 5 minutes only to tell me that they don't know.
-Bassam: Tayeb, what is the carrier frequency for this chip.. anything.. just give me any info.
Needless to say, Nabil didn't know.

I ended up going back to my workshop and spending 2 hrs trying to figure out pointlessly how to make the chip work. So this leaves Katranji with 1 point in my improvised grading scheme.
Don't get me wrong, i have a complicated love/hate relationship with Katranji & Nabil that only the people knowledgeable in electronics in Lebanon would understand, but you have to admit Katranji does have a wide and good range of components available. And most of the time, if you were instructive and knew what you want, you will end up finding at Katranji's.

Getting frustrated. I called Incotel. The guy was really friendly. and as soon as I told him  I need a TSOP1738, he told me that they don't have it but they have something equivalent. I couldn't believe it. His voice was like a divine melody in my ear. I went to Incotel, got the needed chip. The guy even suggested a IR led that works on the same wavelength as my chip. Perfect +10pts for Incotel for their great customer support. 

So I bought 4 TSOPs and 4 LEDs and was about to leave when I asked for the bill. Ok. -8pts for Incotel. I won't tell you the price so that you won't get depressed. But I can say that it was the expected price x4!!
This leaves Incotel with 2pts on my improvised grading scheme.
Incotel 2pts vs.  Katranji 1pt
Well if you don't care about price. Go to Incotel... but honestly you'd be better off gathering a big component list and ordering from abroad. 

N.B. I will be criticizing other electronics shops as I write in my blog. And I will be elaborating more on my love/hate relationship with Katranji and Nabil.


  1. I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it,

    online auction

  2. I had a similar bad experience with Katranji last week. They are not friendly at all and have no respect to clientele.
    Also, there was a fight when I was there. Some guy was shouting on them as he couldn't tolerate their behaviour.

    I left there without buying anything. The owner saw what happened, and approached me with a smile on his face saying 'Did anyone upset you?', but it did not sound he was caring too much, just trying to get things resolved in an old unprofessional manner, but I told him 'k***** e***** l lebneniyeh' (I am Lebanese), and left.

    The same thing happened with Kanafani. What an ego and negative energy they have in their shop.

    I agree with Bassam, that it is better getting things online even if more expensive. However, if you think of it, it is not when you consider the fuel for your car, time you wait for getting a decent taxi, the traffic, the gasoline in your lungs when on the road, the people bad energy, the bumps on the roads, the way they treat you .... etc.

    Nothing is better than getting your tools from the comfort of you office/house drinking a fresh juice or fatteh in the morning ;-)