Time’s working out for a beloved Houston electronics store, but its entrepreneurs are battling to the stop

Going for walks into the Electronics Elements Outlet is a lot like strolling into museum — nicely, besides for the shelves stuffed with microprocessors, circuit boards, electric motors and other components stacked to the rafters.

Across from the cash register sits a working tube tester, where clients carry vacuum tubes harvested from outdated TVs, amplifiers and radios to see if they still perform. In the rear, you will obtain Chilly War-era oscilloscopes yanked from decommissioned Navy vessels. Near the entrance, a Planet War II-era crank telephone rings its twin in close proximity to the back again of the keep. (And no, individuals are not for sale).

The Electronic Components Outlet — EPO to its fans — is a survivor from an additional time, when do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists yammered into ham radios, repaired computers and restored basic TVs. But it also is danger of heading the way of innumerable other mom-and-pop electronics outlets that have vanished from downtowns, searching malls and industrial districts in new decades.

Like all small gamers, EPO is under force from chains like Greatest Acquire and e-commerce giants like Amazon. But for EPO, falling electronics costs not only makes it more durable to contend with the significant suppliers, but also undermines a key consumer base by producing gizmos much easier and often more cost-effective to replace than maintenance.

COVID-19 hasn’t helped, both, driving consumers from the store’s cramped, slender aisles

“This company is in decrease,” conceded EPO’s co-operator Chris Macha,. “I have to be truthful with you, it is hard.”

1 of a kind

EPO is 1 of a form in Houston, and perhaps in the United States. Started in 1985 — Macha began operating there in 1999 and acquired it with Rick Zamarrippa in 2013 — the shop has turn into a fixture in the area’s geek tradition.

Consumers with specialized knowledge conduct workshops on everything from vacuum tube technologies to “the science of coffee.” The store hosts tech swap meets and “battle bots” competitions in which robots try to tear each other aside, and encourages them in a mailing checklist with about 2,000 subscribers.

EPO’s clientele ranges from the experienced to the university student, from the collector to the artist. Macha said he’s marketed elements to oil subject professionals seeking to mend downhole drilling equipment, a health care technician doing work on an MRI device in the Texas Health care Heart, and a movie producer searching for props.

EPO is crammed so comprehensive of products old and new that it’s notoriously difficult to uncover what you are wanting for. But that’s Alright: The hunt is its possess reward.

On HoustonChronicle.com: Stung by shifting preferences and the pandemic, retailer adjusts on the fly

One glassed-in shelf holds dozens of elaborate kits manufactured of polished metallic sheets to make versions of the Eiffel Tower, the Beatles’ drums kit or vintage cars. You will occur across dozens of basic radios, a Japanese pachinko equipment from the ‘60s, and steampunk masks that appear as if they are manufactured

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5D data storage technology offers 10,000 times the density of Blu-ray

By deploying cutting-edge lasers and a little problem-solving, scientists at the University of Southampton have achieved a data storage breakthrough that offers both incredible density and long-term archiving capabilities. The technology is said to be capable of storing 500 terabytes on a single CD-sized disc, with the creators imagining it finding use in preserving everything from information for museums and libraries to data on a person’s DNA.

The technology is what is known as five-dimensional (5)D optical storage and it is one the University of Southampton team has been pursuing for a while. It was first demonstrated back in 2013, with the scientists successfully using the format to record and retrieve a 300-kb text file, though they harbored much loftier ambitions than that.

The data is written using a femtosecond laser, which emits incredibly short but powerful pulses of light, forging tiny structures in glass that are measured on the nanoscale. These structures contain information on the intensity and polarization of the laser beam, in addition to their three spatial dimensions, which is why the scientists refer to it as 5D data storage.

In 2015, the team demonstrated their progress by using the technology to save digital copies of major documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the King James Bible and the Magna Carta. As opposed to typical hard-drive memory that is vulnerable to high temperatures, moisture, magnetic fields and mechanical failure, this “eternal” 5D data storage promised incredible thermal stability and a virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature.

One thing the scientists have been working to address, however, is the ability to write data at fast enough speeds and at high enough densities for real-world applications. They now claim to have achieved this by using an optical phenomenon called near-field enhancement, which enables them to create the nanostructures with a few weak light pulses rather than writing with the femtosecond laser directly. This allows data to be written at 1,000,000 voxels per second, which equates to 230 kb of data, or more than 100 pages of text, per second.

“This new approach improves the data writing speed to a practical level, so we can write tens of gigabytes of data in a reasonable time,” says Yuhao Lei from the University of Southampton in the UK. “The highly localized, precision nanostructures enable a higher data capacity because more voxels can be written in a unit volume. In addition, using pulsed light reduces the energy needed for writing.”

University of Southampton scientists have used their cutting-edge 5D data storage tech to save around 5 GB of information onto a one-inch silica glass sample

Yuhao Lei and Peter G. Kazansky, University of Southampton

The team demonstrated this technique by writing 5 GB of text data onto a silica glass disc around the size of a CD with almost 100 percent readout accuracy, though the researchers say such a disc would be capable of holding 500 TB of data, making it 10,000 times denser than a Blu-ray disc. The researchers

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