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We need code. Lots of code.
David Van Brink // Mon 2007.07.9 23:57 // {wbl weird blinking lights}


I’ve been, aah, shopping for parts a bit lately. Here’s some of the places I’ve shopped and my impressions.

Parts: Santa Cruz Electronics
Walk-in, Santa Cruz, California, USA

I want to like them, I want to support our local independent shoppe, but tragically their components aisle is poorly stocked and terribly cramped and disorganized. It’s fun to find dusty hanging cards with an 1802 processor, or a 27c64, but apparently they can’t be bothered to restock the 7805’s. And of course they have nothing so exotic as a PIC chip or a high brightness white LED. They’re ok to pick up a quick spool of wire or the odd DB-9 connector or what not, and I found some expensive zener diodes of almost the value I needed.

Parts: Digi-Key
Ships from USA.

An old classic; in high school I ordered parts from their paper catalog: got little touch switches and trim pots to make a 555-based monophonic organ. All online now, of course. Although they do carry nearly everything — including my own company’s FPGA parts! — I find their online catalog a bit tricky sometimes… I know there must be a ZIF socket available for less that $30 but darned if their search lets me find it. Same for two pin molex receptacles…

Seems to take about 9 days to arrive at cheapest shipping option.

Parts: Mouser
Ships from USA.

A lot like Digi-Key but I find their online catalog a bit easier to navigate. Prices nearly identical. Shipping options include US First Class Postal Mail which doesn’t include tracking information, but sure does arrive fast! Ordered Monday, received Thursday.

Parts: Futurlec
Ships from Thailand.

I found them searching for protoboards. They had some nice cheap medium-sized boards at a good price so I gave them a shot. Also, those elusive 2-pin through-hole pcb mount molex receptacles, at four cents each. Their online catalog is very tinkerer-friendly, with pictures sometimes and, I don’t know, somehow just easy to navigate. Probably not as complete as Mouser or Digi-Key, and pricier on some things. They took forever to ship, but answered my email queries very fast (“Your order will go out after we get our next batch of LM2931’s.”) One package arrived certified mail, which is all right since I work near the post office and could easily pick it up. The other normal mail, in my mailbox at home. Took nearly a month.

Parts: Sure Electronics
Ships from China.

Truly, ebay is our greymarket gateway to the world! Sure Electronics carries all the groovy LEDs, including 3 Watt RGB LEDs for $4 a pop. And a bag of 100 white LEDs for $3.99, or 100 UV LEDs for $4.99. Also “variety packs” off 50 machined IC sockets for a few dollars, and dc-dc power supplies (I really want to power all my 5v pic projects at burning man from a single car battery, yee ha), and some rather nifty tiny-but-useful protoboards. Kind of a random smattering, really, but fun. Occasionally endearing Mandaringlish*. Some products are BuyItNow, others with bidding. Double the price to include shipping, and it’s still tasty stuff. Ships pretty fast, considering it is from China. Two or three weeks, say. Sometimes certified, sometimes mailboxed.

*For example: “Both ways could generate 3A continuous output and work stably. Output voltage could be selected from 3.3/5/9/12/15 by encode switches, and could be fine adjusted through multi turn potentiometers. If in need, just change some resistor value, you could get other output value.”

PC Board Fabrication: Pad-2-Pad


This is an online PC board manufactory. I’ll be reporting on them soon. They have a free downloadable PC board design tool. It’s very easy to use, and will do autorouting. Also, it will compute the price and place the order for you. The software is only for Windows but runs acceptable using Virtual PC on my PowerBook G4 laptop. About $120 for 15 of a 2″x2″ board, with two layers and soldermask and silkscreening.

weird of wbl // Wed 2007.08.8 07:017:01 am

futurlec, for me, are great- maybe because their have a distribution office in NYC…

oh, i dont know. what do you think?

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