My very old Ungar 8800 soldering stand had a cracked ceramic iron holder from decades of use/misuse. So I went looking for Ungar on the www. They are no longer with us. But I found that they are now owned by Weller (famous for its big heat soldering guns - basically a hand-held transformer with a shorted turn for the heat generator), which is now owned by Cooper Industries. So I contacted them (Weller still makes the 8800 stand - at least the people at the link are selling them) for a replacement ceramic element. I don't know why (my guess is that they haven't heard someone ask for an Ungar part in decades), but they sent me a free replacement. Thanks, guys!

If you need an AC transformer for a design, or coils or other inductive components, Renco is a good place to shop. They have an excellent free sample service. And some very helpful engineers. Ask them a question or three. They also have some nice design forms on their www site so you can easily ask them to quote a custom design.

Coilcraft has a good sample service. They sent me some transformers a while back for a design I was testing. Unfortunately, the design didn't work out. It was my fault, not theirs. The transformers were excellent.

If your needs run to semiconductors, NXP will help you get your designs off the ground with their sample service.

Also very helpful is Texas Instruments. I like their 16-bit microprocessors and have some samples on my shelf awaiting completion of a board.

M. Simon's e-mail can be found on the sidebar at Space-Time Productions.

Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.