KI7TU's Reference Page - Sources for Parts & Supplies

On this page I basically want to offer a few suggestions as to where to find parts and supplies. There are a great many more advertised in the pages of some of the periodicals, and still others can be found by the search engines on the Internet. However, when you're just getting started, and don't have a really good idea of what you're looking for, having some notion of where to look can be useful.

This list is, of course, just a partial list. No doubt you'll soon find others.

I've noted a bit about my experiences for each company. DISCLAIMER: These are MY experiences ONLY. Your experience may (and probably will) be different, and I make NO guarantees about them.

The really nice part, for you the user is that you can simply click on the links!

The order of this list really doesn't reflect the goodness or badness of the companies, it's just a convenient ordering for me.

One of the things to recognize on most of these companies is that their "bread and butter" business is large commercial accounts. They will do business with the "hobbyist", but they may charge a noticable "service charge" on small orders. It definitely pays to know where those break-points are. For instance, one time, several years ago, I was placing an order with DigiKey, and discovered that by adding a 10¢ item to my order I was able to reduce the service fee by (if I recall correctly) $2.

I've recently noticed a few companies that advertise prices on the net that are a little less than their competitors' prices, but when you look more closely they quote exhorbitant "shipping and handling" fees. (The worst was one company that had a price about $2 per piece less than another company, but they wanted $12 PER PIECE "shipping and handling". The other company charged a bit more per item, but only charged actual shipping costs -- and several items fit into one of the U.S.P.S. "Priority Mail" boxes, so it was only [if I recall correctly] about $6 shipping for the whole order, which included 4 of those parts for which the company with a slightly lower price would have dinged me for $48 S&H.)

Another comment is to be aware of the "quantity" prices. I've seen instances when it would only cost a few pennies more to order 100 resistors than to order 10 of the same value. (The simple reason for this is the labor to count out the lesser number, while the greater number is usually actually done by weight, especially for low-priced parts like resistors.) Also, it is often very nice to have a spare or two (there's an old saying that "experience is directly proportional to equipment destroyed") as you can then change out a part if you suspect that it might have "gone bad" without waiting for another order (and also without incurring another set of shipping and handling charges). A final reason for ordering extra parts is that it's a good way of building up your "junk box" stock with parts you're already familiar with (which is nice for future projects). (As I'm doing the initial development on this web page, I've also found that I already have most of the parts to be able to "breadboard" the initial design for a new project -- or at least enough of it to do "proof of concept" for some major portions.)

"Who carries what" matrix

The following table is an indication of where you might find items in each catagory. Rather than putting direct links in the table below, I've put links to my comments above about each company. I strongly encourage you to READ MY COMMENTS before doing business with the companies. (Remember, though, that I make absolutely no guarantees about any of them.)

CompanyNew PartsSurplus PartsToolsBatteriesKits 3D Go to them for...
Adafruit Yes   Yes Some Yes Yes Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone Black, e-textiles, 3D
American Scientific & Surplus     Some Some Few   Some real oddball and fun stuff
All Electronics   Yes Some Some Few   Some parts, especially motors
Argent Data Systems Yes       Yes   APRS, GPS and related
Batteries Plus       Yes     Batteries & related stuff, lightbulbs
Circuit Specialists Yes   Some Few Few PLA Solderless breadboards, some parts, some tools, PLA and ABS for 3D printers
Costco     Few Yes     Dry cell batteris, some tools
Dick Smith Electronics Yes   Some Yes Yes   You happen to go to Australia
Digikey Yes   Yes Yes     Electronic parts
Fry's Electronics Yes   Yes Yes Few Few Computers, parts, cabling, 3D printing
Grainger     Yes Few     Once in a while tools, LockTite
Hamfests Some Some Some Few Few   Meeting people, parts, ham radio exams
Ham Radio Outlet Few   Few Few     Radios and associated equipment; Electronics books and magazines
Harbor Freight Tools     Yes Few     Inexpensive tools
Jameco Electronics Yes Yes Some       Electronic parts
Marlin P. Jones & Assoc. Inc.   Yes Some   Few   Some parts
Mouser Electronics Yes   Yes Yes     Electronic parts
Printrbot           Yes 3D printers and supplies
Radio Shack Yes   Few Yes Few   Urgent needs
Ramsey Electronics           Yes Avoid them
Recreational Equipment, Inc.     Few Some     Swiss Army knives, outdoor gear
RF Stuff Some Few Few       DC connectors (Powerpole), RF connectors, etc.
ServoCity Yes   Few Some     Servos, R/C, related parts
Solarbotics Yes Few     Few   Small motors, related parts
Sparkfun Yes   Some   Yes Few Arduino and related, some other parts, especially thermocouples,
ULINE             Shipping supplies in quantity
Wideners             SPUD7 (large) Plastic cases

This screen last updated: 08-Oct-2015

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