Author Options:

I need a source for reliable, normally open push button switches. Answered

Either online or in the San Francisco bay area. Fry's does not have what I need.



This may answer my own question. I found the following suggestions on this web site and they look like great sources for electronic components in Silcon Valley.

Anchor Electronics. A great, very well supplied store. They have various PIC kits and, more imporantly, they sell PIC chips separately. Very good prices and huge collection of all sort of electronic components, tools, prototype boards, and a lot of stuff that I could not find anywhere else locally. Because the shop is not big, not everything is on the shelves for you to browse through - if you need something that you don't see, ask and more often than not they will have it in stock.

HSC Electronic Supply. This is probably my favorite local shop. They have a huge and relatively well organized collection of parts and components, often at remarcably good prices. At least once a month I visit the shop to browse their clearance/sales section. They have all sort of strange surplus stuff there too (Are you by any chance looking for electron microscope cathodes? Well, they have some.) Limited selection of microcontrollers, but if you ask for something specific they often can call around and find it.

WeirdStuff. The name says it all. Really weird stuff. If you visit, make sure to check the back room - it's open to the public and most of the really fun stuff is there. I've seen traffic lights, old police car lights, huge circular PCBs with unknown purpose (maybe testers?), hydraulic actuators, boxes of ICs (not very well organized, to put it mildly), and everything from tiny surface-mount resistors to mysterious refrigerator-sized boxes with arm-thick cables sticking out. I often buy old hardware from there - for parts or for project boxes. You can also find used telephone equipment, VCRs, DVDs, routers, computer mice and other hardware. I haven't seen any PIC microcontrollers there yet.

I think that you can get some from the electronic goldmine

The control panel of dead video players - the fancy-shaped buttons have normal push-buttons behind them.