Useful General Information
Sphere Research has been around since 1992, and does most of its business doing contract research and development for customers in the Avionics and environmental monitoring industries. We also maintain a very complete metrology lab for our own work that allows us to do secondary calibrations accurate to better than 10ppm for voltage, resistance and current. We have our own Frequency Electronics double-dewar stabilized oscillator plus GPS disciplined stabilized oscillators that allow us short-term repeatable accuracy in parts to 10-11 for primary standards.
We often buy used equipment for projects, or fixed lots of equipment to get something we need for a specific task. When the work is done, we then have a wide variety of high quality test equipment, optical equipment and other unique items for sale. We also collect odd equipment as sort of a company hobby, so some things we have are truly unique, like our vintage test gear.
Normally we sell this equipment locally, but the internet makes it possible for us to offer these items to a much wider audience without making the purchase price too high. Customers in Canada can benefit most from our inventory (no trans-border customs costs, or expensive shipping), but anyone with access to the post office or FedEx can access our inventory. All prices are usually shown in Dollars for ease of comparison with other sites, and we bill in Canadian Dollars when processing credit cards at the current internal bank rate. This can sometimes be a bit confusing, but currency rates are very volatile, and this is our best way to address the problem.
We clearly mark the condition of all items, so be SURE you understand what you are buying. We have equipment conditions ranging from brand new to parts only, which covers a lot of ground.
For Test Equipment ONLY, ITEM Conditions are also marked as shown below:
Factory New, Original Packaging
Like New, no original packaging
Excellent / Calibrated (with sticker)
As Received, Powers up if equipment, or untested if component.
Known Not Functional
Indicates + Operating Manual
Indicates + Service Manual
Slide rules are always marked plainly in text as to the exact condition, as there are many more possible situations. We always try and find new in the box (NIB) rules if possible.
NIB = New In Box
NOS = New Old Stock (as with vacuum tubes)
Sphere doesn't release any of your information to anybody. We have no on-line ‘cookies' on our web site (other than the two pages with Google search engines we put up at customer's requests, and those are THEIR cookies), and do not collect any data about you. We send no junk mail, and are only here to try and help you get what you want. There is no other secret agenda at work behind the scenes for some clandestine marketing agency. We even deleted our link exchange material because we found it was leaving cookies, which we do not permit.
We have the ultimate internet accounting security, we take your order by hand, and process the invoice on a secure computer not accessible by the Internet. Getting your data from us is going to be very, very tough for anybody, you do not need to worry about your credit card data or email address being exposed on line, or in any other way.
We want you to be satisfied in your dealings with us, and will do our best to make it turn out that way. We believe the best business occurs when both parties are treated fairly, and are satisfied with the results. If you feel we need to improve something about how we do business, please let us know HERE.
Q: How do I order something, and what does it cost to ship?
A: In the slide rule sections, this data is always repeated towards the top of each page, it is as follows:
You can order anything here just by picking up the phone, and calling (250) 769-1834 during normal office hours, 8:30AM to 4:30PM PST, or FAX to (250) 769-4106. OR, Email your order to Susan HERE.
SHIPPING: Preferred and Alternate Methods as of June 4, 2013
Preferred - Canadian ExpressPost which has guaranteed delivery time, is insured, and trackable on-line. We have an extraordinarily good success rate (better than 99.9%) with ExpressPost, so we highly recommend it, especially for one-of-a-kind items. It is cheaper than couriers, trackable, more reliable, fully insured and goes almost everywhere. Yes, it is expensive, but it works.
USA destinations, shipping/handling minimum of $32.00 for any insured, trackable air shipment up to 0.5 kg/1 pound. (typical delivery within 5 business days).
Canadian destinations are typically $18-25 (depending on location) with delivery within 2-3 business days.
Europe, Australia, South America and other overseas areas via Canada Post International ExpressPost air mail insured service or Canada Post International Air Service where ExpressPost is not offered is $59.00 for parcels up to 500 grams/1 pound.
Alternate - Regular Airmail. Virtually all of our shipment failures and delays have been because of this method, so it should be used with caution. It is slower and less secure, but considerably cheaper.
USA Destinations are $12.00 for AirMail parcels up to 250 grams/0.5 pound or $15.00 for parcels from 250 grams to 500 grams/1 pound. This option offers no delivery guarantee or insurance so we can accept no liability for loss or damage. Very small, rugged items that can fit in a 000 padded bag can ship for $6. This works for some parts.
Canadian destinations are virtually identical to ExpressPost, so we do not offer this method within Canada, as it has no advantage to the customer. Very small, rugged items that can fit in a 000 padded bag can ship for $6. This works for some parts.
Europe, Australia, South America and other overseas areas via AirMail is $22.00 for parcels weighing up to 500 grams/1 pound. This service offers no guarantee, insurance or tracking and we can accept no liability for loss or damage. Transit times are unpredictable by this method, but service to Europe is generally very good, while service to South America is simply terrible.
Alternate - Courier. This is usually the most expensive method, but can be the quickest.
We can also ship FedEx or UPS when time or weight is critical, and overnight FedEx P1 shipping is available. Note that our pick-up cut-off time is noon PST for FedEx. We can use your account number, or bill to your credit card only. Our experience is that FedEx is the best solution for time critical shipments, UPS for heavy ones, but UPS has a higher damage rate.
E-Mail Susan if you want a quote for shipping to other destinations, or for something heavy. Sorry, we can't safely send most individual small parts in a regular letter envelope, they get destroyed by the automated handling equipment. Sometimes we can ship very rugged parts in a small padded envelope by letter post. Ask Susan.
There is a packing charge for large or heavy equipment, see the elsewhere in the FAQ for details.
If we have your valid data on file, you can just click on the ORDER email link to place an order and indicate your approval to bill, and we will do the rest. We keep your active information for ONE YEAR for your convenience.
If this is the first time you have dealt with us, you can phone +1 (250) 769-1834 or FAX +1 (250) 769-4106 to supply the billing info, or send it by the email link, as you prefer. We accept VISA/MC, international money order, Paypal (to Susan@Okanagan.net), and bank wire transfer. Please note that there are transaction fees with Paypal and wire transfer payments, the wire transfer fee is frankly horrifying, $50.
Q: Why don't you have an ORDER FORM?
A: We hate filling out convoluted and inflexible on-line forms, espeically with sensitive credit cad info, and we found most customers did too. They also put far too much info on line where it can be seen, and become very complicated when you want more than one item. Our simple email link seems to work best for most people, and allows you to ask lots of questions or use any prepared data you want without having to fit our goofy form. Most people contact us by phone to give their credit card information, then process future orders by a simple email message. After all, a human being processes your order here, not a massive Cray computer.
Q: I bought something for $50, but my Visa bill says $51. What's with that?
A: We are in Canada, and can only bill through the credit card system in C$, not US$. Our site now simply shows $ prices because most people worldwide are used to comparing prices in that currency, and about 95% of our business is exported outside of Canada, so this only makes sense, as few people outside of Canada know the value of our dollar. Generally, if the currencies are within a few percent of par, we absorb the difference, and your bill will be in C$ at the exact number shown. When the C$/US$ split becomes too wide (greater than 5%), we will apply the current exchange to US$ for export sales, and you will still see the correct amount on your Visa bill, but the physical slip will look a bit bigger due to our lower exchange rate for C$. Our Visa/MC is always done in C$, however, for clarity.
Credit Card companies have their own exchange rates that are typically 3% higher than world bank rates, and when they convert our C$ charges to your US$ account, there is inevitably some minor fluctuation, and we try and absorb that at our end. Exchange rates vary considerably, and over the last few years have gone from C$1.40/C$1.08 to US$1.00. The US$ and C$ are currently almost at PAR. There may be some slight variation on your final Visa/MC bill due to currency fluctuations, internal conversion charges at your bank, etc. If you are in the USA, you can also pay by US$ International Money Order or Bank Draft, if you prefer. The US Dollar has been falling rapidly in value during 2006 to 2008, almost 20% relative to Europe and Canada, so sometimes we have to make abrupt pricing adjustments to reflect that shift. You can see this shift for yourself at the Google Finance Site, HERE. For example, the US$ is worth only about $0.01 more than the C$ on September 25, 2007, and a US$ is worth only 0.70 Euros, a huge drop in comparative value of the US$ over time. In any case, we will advise you at the time of purchase what is happening, and you should see no real surprises once the final credit card bill reaches you. If you have any questions, please email SUSAN HERE for help.
Q: Do you take American Express or Discover?
A: No, they are not available to us. We can take only VISA and Master Card. If you had any idea how ugly American Express was for a seller, you would never ask for it again.
Q: I want something small and light, do I still have to pay $28 in shipping?
A: No, we do have other methods, but see the shipping FAQ to understand all the issues. Some methods can take weeks to arrive, and are uninsured, therefore just plain not recommended by us. Let me add that EVERY time a customer has requested some kind of cheap shipping, there have always been problems, especially in the expectation of quick delivery. There have just been huge increases in US postal costs (due to rising fuel costs), so please, just understand that it costs what it costs, and it is not really something we get to negotiate with anybody.
Q: Why does it take up to 7-10 days to get something sent Airmail? Do you guys use carrier pigeons or something?
A: No, no pigeons or other related airborne freight-fowl species are used. Don't forget, it has to clear CUSTOMS in the USA (or elsewhere), this can take several days while they check for heaven only knows what in the package. We're pretty sure they don't believe it when we say there are slide rules in the package, and feel compelled to physically check for themselves. It goes to them first, then to you. So much for NAFTA and Free Trade. oddly, shipments to the UK (much further away) almost always take less than half the total time.
Q: Why do you charge to pack something like a scope?
A: Because it costs money to pack it securely so that it won't be damaged in shipment. A typical piece of larger gear takes about half an hour's labor and $20 in material to pack well. Double boxed and suspended packaging takes about an hour's labor and $30 in material.
Q: Do you buy used test equipment or slide rules?
A: Yes, simply email us with details HERE. We are almost certain to ask for a picture by email, a text explanation is often not very helpful, and we have to know the CONDITION. Please include your asking price. If you don't know what you want for it, how can we be expected to know? Our normal terms are to pay immediately on receipt. We DO NOT prepay for items we have not seen or inspected, and it is unrealistic to request or expect us to do so. If we cannot accept the items once we see them, we will return them to you at our cost.
Q: What warranty do you provide on used test equipment? What about later?
A: You have one week from date of receipt to evaluate the item, and arrange for its return or some other remedial action if you are not satisfied. We provide an additional 30 day service coverage (material and labor, but NOT freight) on test equipment items over US$100 in value, to handle any strange infant mortality problems. There is no further specific equipment warranty on used equipment beyond this period. Unlike many equipment dealers, YES, we WILL send repair parts or manuals (at our posted prices) to you long after this period if we have them available in stock, to keep your equipment working, it DOES NOT have to return to us for service. We DO provide calibration and repair service for anything we sell, but cannot always guarantee that parts will still be available later, or until the end of time.
Q: What kind of calibration do you provide? Can I get a NIST/NRC certificate??
A: All test equipment items are supplied checked, cleaned and calibrated, UNLESS we specifically state otherwise (as-is, unknown). Our lab, standards and library facilities are extensive, and there are few parameters we cannot do to very high precision, generally to ppm levels or better. We use the manufacturer's manuals for the calibration data (wherever possible), and every item has our calibration sticker showing when it was done and when it is due again (generally a 1 year period). There is no additional charge for this service, it is included in the item price. For some items, we can provide NIST/NRC traceability on certain parameters, and a certificate can be issued, there is an additional US$45 charge for this service, and you MUST REQUEST IT IN ADVANCE, it cannot be sent after the fact. No certificate is normally supplied, only the calibration sticker on the equipment. For full 17025 documentation, and detailed before/after data, our affiliate Avatar Metrology Inc, will supply this service for most items we sell. Please ask for a quote if you require this service.
Q: What if I want to return what I bought?
A: Contact us first, and we will advise the best way to return it if within 7 days of receipt. If the item was damaged in transit, we will organize the insurance claim for you, and a replacement if possible, but you will have to provide some data to make this possible. We will refund your original purchase price, LESS FREIGHT, on our receipt of the original item, complete in the exact same condition we sent it to you. After 7 days from receipt, or if you simply want to return an item that was correctly shipped, there is a 15% re-stocking fee, and you must ship it back to us prepaid in all cases. Items returned incomplete, damaged, or after 30 days are not eligible for refund.
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