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Over the last few years I have ordered countless items online for various electronics and DIY projects. Ordering stuff can be a pain - tedious, frustrating, and often, overly expensive. This is the first Instructable you should read before beginning any electronics-centric project!

Each step has specific details about the stores. 

These are just my opinions based on my experience. This is in no way definitive. I encourage you to leave comments about each store based on your experience so we can build a stronger evaluation. I can potentially add more stores upon request - I know I left many out. 


ELECTRONICS


MECHANICAL, MATERIALS & MANUFACTURING


This list is (as you can probably tell) North America specific.

Step 1: All Electronics (allelectronics.com)

The Good
  • Amazing prices on tools and small components
  • Good selection
  • They have a storefront 
The Mediocre
  • Surplus parts are sometimes a bit odd
The Not-So-Good
  • No datasheets and limited part descriptions
  • Slow shipping 

Step 2: Futurlec (futurlec.com)

The Good
  • Amazing prices!
The Mediocre
  • Site search and navigation is a bit odd
The Not-So-Good
  • Some knock-off and bogus products
  • Slow shipping to USA
  • I have seen others leave terrible ratings and reviews

Step 3: Adafruit (adafruit.com)

The Good
  • Great resources and code samples
  • Unique products
  • Strong community
The Mediocre
  • Small inventory
  • Customer service
The Not-So-Good
  • ?

Step 4: Sparkfun (sparkfun.com)

The Good
  • Great resources and code samples
  • Unique products
  • Strong community
  • Open Source
The Mediocre
  • ?
The Not-So-Good
  • Some of the small parts and components are insanely expensive 

Step 5: Sure Electronics (sureelectronics.net)

The Good
  • Holy hell they have some cheap stuff
  • Unique items
The Mediocre
  • Very unusual inventory
The Not-So-Good
  • Search and navigation is rubbish
  • Expensive shipping to USA

Step 6: Newark/Element14 (newark.com)

The Good
  • Customer service
  • Fast shipping
  • HUGE selection
  • Rasberry-Pi 
The Mediocre
  • Pricing 
  • Searching and filtering
  • DIY community
The Not-So-Good
  • ?

Step 7: Digikey (digikey.com)

The Good
  • Holy hell they have fast shipping
  • Good customer service
  • HUGE selection
  • Great prices for ICs
  • Lots of datasheets
The Mediocre
  • Searching and filtering 
  • Interface
  • Photos of products
The Not-So-Good
  • Some stuff is just insanely overpriced
  • No community, resources, coding samples

Step 8: Radio Shack (storefront)

The Good
  • They have a storefront! All over the country.
The Mediocre
  • Selection is limited
The Not-So-Good
  • Expensive
  • Staff doesn't know much about electronics 

Step 9: Mouser (mouser.com)

The Good
  • HUGE selection
  • Many unique ICs
  • Lots of datasheets
The Mediocre
  • Searching and filtering
The Not-So-Good
  • No community
  • Unreasonable shipping rates

Step 10: Octopart (octopart.com)

Not a store, rather, a search engine.

Very handy when searching for specific parts!

Step 11: Findchips

Another parts search engine, similar to octoparts. Findchips.com tends to have better search results than octoparts at times. I use both equally.

Step 12: Pololu (pololu.com)

The Good
  • Great selection of motors and motor controllers
  • Lots of details and descriptions
  • They offer laser cutting services
The Mediocre
  • Shipping is a bit pricey
The Not-So-Good
  • Searching engine 

Step 13: Solarbotics (solarbotics.com)

....have yet to order from here yet but heard great things.

Please share your experiences in the comments. 

Step 14: AliExpress (aliexpress.com)

....have yet to order from here. Appears you can get some amazing deals. I am planning to make an order very soon. 

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Step 15: Seed Studio (seeedstudio.com)

....have yet to order from here. Looks like a great site!

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Step 16: Electronics Goldmine (goldmine-elec.com)

....have yet to order from here.

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Step 17: McMaster Carr (mcmaster.com)

The Good
  • HUGE selection
  • Super fast shipping
  • Great customer service
  • Amazing website. The best online shopping experience I have ever had. 
  • Download almost every part (2D and 3D)
The Mediocre
  • A bit overwhelming.  
  • Pricing
The Not-So-Good
  • ?

Step 18: Ponoko (ponoko.com)

The Good
  • Great material selection
  • Laser cutting and 3D printing services
  • Good customer service
  • Track the progress of your design
The Mediocre
  • The selling thing has not really taken off yet
  • Pricing
The Not-So-Good
  • Metal prices are through the roof

Step 19: Inventables (inventables.com)

....only made one small order here. Not much to say yet. Seems quite expensive, but they have a great selection. 

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Step 20: Shapeways (shapeways.com)

....have yet to order from here.

Please share your experiences in the comments.
<p>Some input on Tayda Electronics:</p><p>I started using them a few years ago and they've been the cheapest source of basic electronic components I've been able to find, short of ordering direct from China. Their cheapest shipping typically takes a week and a half and usually only costs $1-$5. They occasionally have coupons on their facebook page. The only catch is you must place a $5 minimum order. I've placed 14 orders with them at the time of writing this and haven't had a single issue. They've even started stocking breakout boards and Arduino Uno and Nano clones. I've bought both the accelerometer and Nano and both have worked without any issues. The Nano is currently $3.69 and the adxl335 is $1.59, plus resistors for less than a penny a piece. My only complaint is that I wish they had a rating from the Better Business Bureau, but again I've yet to have any problems with them. Great website, would recommend.</p>
<p>farnsworthelectronics.com</p>
<p>Try http://www.MROstock.com for all PLC and CNC products</p>
<p>Thank you very much for this list! I found DX.com and Tayda Electronics very nice shops where I may order parts someday. Thanks again!</p>
www.fasttech.com
How about <br>Fastech.com
Jameco is great, low prices and fast shipping!
<p>I've had some quantity items with defect rates of up to 10%. I had some nuts with no threads, some washers that had been sheared in half. I also ordered 3 threaded rods for a CNC mill, and 2 of them were bent slightly, which I didn't notice until I had already cut them to length and started installing them in my mill.</p>
<p>The Mediocre:</p><p>- Eclectic, constantly-shifting inventory. You might find something awesome, or spend hours browsing with nothing to show for it.</p><p>Not-so-good:</p><p>- Prices vary from slightly overpriced to ridiculously overpriced.</p>
<p>Seeed's link doesn't work.. do you mean their OPL?</p><p><a href="http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/OPLopen-parts-library-catalog-c-136_138/?ref=side" rel="nofollow">http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/OPLopen-parts-lib...</a> i think they define OPL as a list of commonly-used components. the good things of opl is cost effective and Seeed allows you to purchase in small qty. But the selection i have to say is not enough...</p>
<p>Check out FoxyTronics at <a href="https://www.foxytronics.com" rel="nofollow"> https://www.foxytronics.com</a></p>
<p>add also this good resource website for electronic components : www.brooks-maldini.net</p>
<p>Great list! I'd like to comment on Solarbotics.</p><p>I enjoy ordering from them. The selection isn't huge, and some items can be overpriced, but I've found that comparing them to other distributors such as robotshop.ca and sparkfun.com yield similar prices. You can even find some of the same products as on bigger websites (such as sparkfun stepper drivers, a number of Adafruit products, etc).</p><p>If you're in the Calgary, AB area ( like I am) I'd recommend same-day pickup! Orders placed before 2:00pm can be picked up after 4:00pm. There's no storefront, but they have a reception desk, and welcome pick-ups. For me, this is perfect if I'm in need of a part and I don't want to wait or pay extra for shipping. There's no additional cost for pick-up, besides a $5 handling fee (which is removed if you spend $30 or more).</p><p>The staff is kind and helpful, and seem to have a good knowledge of the products they sell. I've spent hundreds there in $30 orders, because I prefer their service to most others.</p><p>I hope this is helpful!</p>
Yo thanx for compiling this. I often use allelectronics, futurlec and jameco. Another one you might be into is tubesandmore.com
<p>Hello, you may consider adding: <a href="http://voltatek.com" rel="nofollow"> http://voltatek.com</a></p><p>No physical store, only webstore. This is a new webstore.</p><p>They are in Quebec, Canada</p>
Thank you for this instructable! Lots of very good info here. One thing I hope you could add would be what companies have a minimum purchase amount or a minimum shipping amount. A few times I have wanted to buy a just a dollar or two worth of parts but once I made it to the checkout the site would bump it up to their ~$20 minimum. <br>Thank you!
yeah for sure
<p>Hi Fuzzy-Wobble,</p><p>Was hoping you would consider my company: Galco Industrial Electronics (www.Galco.com). Galco is a Factory Authorized Stocking Distributor for Over One Million Products from more than 150 Brands of Industrial Electrical &amp; Electronic Automation, Controls and Component Products; On-Site and Send-In Repair Services for Industrial Control &amp; Automation Products for Over 2,000 Brands; Engineered Systems Integration, Retrofits &amp; Upgrades for Variable Speed Drives, CNC, PLC Systems, Dynamometers &amp; Test Stand Applications.</p><p>Anyways, thanks for your consideration!</p>
For the netherlands: <br>http://www.dickbest.nl <br>http://www.conrad.nl/ce/ <br>For Germany: <br>http://www.conrad.de/ce/ <br>
Sorry this list is not going to cover the European stores. I just don't know enough about the DIY scene in Europe, nor the hundreds of stores that support it.
I realize that, that is why I mentioned the 2 european ones
'Sorry this list is not going to cover the European stores'
Interesting. I checked taydaelectronics who are actually in bangkok and they seem to be able to ship something for $0.99 whereas a company in my own country charges Euro 2.50
That is interesting...
To the Newark/Element14 family, for UK/Europe you can add &quot;Farnell In One&quot; and &quot;CPC&quot; <br> <br>http://uk.farnell.com/ <br>http://cpc.farnell.com/ <br> <br>Also in the UK Rapid Electronics http://www.rapidonline.com/ -- I've dealt with them over the years, no problems.
Good Job. Here's a good handful more, some I have ordered from, the rest I plan to order from them. <br> <br>http://www.alltronics.com/ - all kinds of stuff, low prices. Some new stuff, some surplus; decent grab bags. <br>http://www.taydaelectronics.com/ - Chinese component supplier. VERY cheap prices on some items. I haven't ordered from them but I have heard they do OK. <br>http://www.jameco.com/ - decent prices, good selection, always find something of interest <br>http://dx.com/ - similar to the Aliexpress site. Cheap chinese products, free shipping though <br>http://www.web-tronics.com/ - Generally has a few items you can't find elsewhere, OK prices <br>http://www.electronicsurplus.com - name says it all <br>http://www.surplussales.com - vintage parts, has all types of electrical surplus items, not just components <br>http://www.hosfelt.com/ - little bit of everything, has wholesale pricing <br>http://www.excesssolutions.com/ - various surplus items <br>http://www.wihatools.com/ - tools, tools, tools. <br>http://www.victornet.com/ - machinists tools and supplies <br>https://www.verical.com - similar to octopart <br>
Nice writeup, I have used several of these companies myself. Another source to sometimes look at is ebay. I have bought many odd and older electronic parts off of ebay over the years.
Seeed: Instructions for kits compatible with Arduino and their own equivalent are somewhat nonspecific, probably because Arduino has so many different header arrangements. Other than that, though, their stuff is great quality, but not too forgiving for beginners- through-plated solder holes can't be desoldered with just an iron.
You're missing some. Do you want more suggestions? ;-)
definitely
Looks good.
Very nice. Thanks.
Wow, ta for this! I'm forwarding it to my son, an electronics handyman.

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