Maker, parts can be sourced from a lot of places. As a
frugal dad, it took a long time before I decided to pull the trigger and get an Arduino. Looking back, it's kind of like getting an ink-jet printer. Relatively low cost initially for the printer itself but the accessories/disposables, the ink or all those additional electronic components can add up. Yeah, just like those American Girl dolls too. Sources
Part of the cost of a product is the support of the company once you get it in your hands. Electronic components do fail sometimes and it could be that way out of the box. It could be you only notice it acting wonky after you use it. Warranties and returns are honored by good businesses.
Get a genuine Arduino.
I always try to get two. One to use and a backup.
I got my Arduinos at my local MicroCenter when I saw them on sale...browsing with all the other geeks.
Some reputable places to get your Arduinos and electronic components are:
and yes, that old guy on Canal St, NYC, tucked away in back of one of those tourist trap mini-malls.
McMaster-Carr , more for the mechanical type parts and materials Dollar stores
Sniffing out bargains means that you will always find something that may be remotely useful in your projects. Deep discount or liquidation stores yield some unique items or stuff that begs to be hacked. I have gotten sets of LED candlelights to hack for it's flickering effect LED, bicycle safety flashers to gut for its LEDs and electronics, dome lights to make giant easy buttons, and cheap toys to hack. ebay
I'll admit, I get a lot of stuff off of ebay because of the price. I haven't tried any outside of the US sellers or those dirt-cheap import electronic sites yet because I still don't trust my mailman to get the mail delivered across town, no wonder they are in such sad shape. If you have the patience to wait several weeks for delivery of a mystery package, then go for it. Know what you are getting into and have realistic expectations of the quality of the goods. I do have some stories about regular packages that were not delivered on time and took a diversion on the way.
Take the seller ratings with a grain of salt and read through the negative feedback comments to see if there really is a problem. Know how to scope out and price your goods. Buy in bulk if you need those items. Bigger lots work out to less cost per item. Know how to put in the bid at the last second. Become an ebay sniper to win auctions. Know when to "buy it now" to guarantee you will have the item. Look through the bid history to size up your opponents. Take up the "best offer" and place a reasonable amount. Don't forget to figure in the shipping costs or free shipping as part of overall what you will pay. It really helps to have a Paypal account set up for payments. Alternate Sources Hand me downs
I got me an ipod. Ipod Classic
. Don't be afraid to try to fix up stuff. I find value in buying factory refurbished items.I look at it as a second factory check to make sure it is good to go. Samples
I dunno, I guess you can sign up in places as a business that would evaluate the product but I don't know if the effort is worth it or that the selection of the parts you get would even be something you could use. Scavenging, Salvaging, Scrounging, Harvesting...
I have put a lot of electronics out to pasture in the recycling bin. You can get some parts off of old circuit boards but you have to invest in the time to figure out what they are and then warehouse your parts so you know you have them. Larger components like motors, potentiometers or transformers I can deal with but unmarked resistors and capacitors are not worth my trouble. Clipped leads after desoldering are hard to work with and those surface mounted parts (SMT), good luck.