On buying components

So, this is a plea for help. Back in the day, in the UK, it used to be possible to physically go to Maplin Electronics stores (now but a mere husk of its former self, barely worth the time of day) and get random components. They had huge stashes, and you could easily go buy an inexpensive pack of assorted resistors, a bunch of diodes, transistors, whatever. Building a home hacking kit was pretty easy. Then the Internet slowly killed them and hurt weekend hackers everywhere.

When I moved to the US, I brought a large quantity of passive, semi, and other components with me, and since I’ve not been doing much electronic hackery those have lasted a number of years now. But I’m in need of replenishing, and particularly in need of just a bunch of inexpensive bags of assorted components – nothing in particular, just a range of values to sit in my component boxes. I looked at DigiKey (whose website is always atrociously bad), Mouser, Newark, and all the rest (none of whom seem to know how to do good site design), but as usual the best option for the weekend hacker is to go with Sparkfun or Adafruit, and neither really does the “assorted parts” kit thing. Great if you want funky devices though.

I’m at a loss. Radioshack stores suck ass compared with even a few years ago, nobody else does decent retail components, and I’m not interested in navigating one-at-a-time expensive ordering with Digi. So where the heck am I supposed to go? I’m sure this is one of these things where I’m supposed to give up and watch MTV or enjoy Football (or another total waste of time), but I’d prefer not to. I’m more down with random intellectual pursuits instead. Recommendations for actually useful places to get what I want are quite welcome.


4 Responses to “On buying components”

  1. Jai says:

    I buy from futurlec when I’m not in a hurry. They can take a while to ship if they don’t have a part in stock, and sometimes they won’t actually tell you what part they’re waiting on, so you have to chase them to find out, and then ask them to ship everything else rather than hold up the whole order. But they’re cheap, and they have grab-bags.

    Don’t know what the shipping to the US is like, though, for time or money.

  2. salsaman says:

    Agreed top to bottom– websites’ designs suck, Radio Shack is useless, and Sparkfun and Adafruit can’t make money offering multipacks of resistors etc.

    Futurlec might be what you’re looking for. Their customer service can seem odd and shipping can take a while, but their prices are great and they offer some handy “value packs” of resistors, caps, transistors, etc:

    My question is: where can I find SMD packs like this??

  3. Yuval says:

    you might be surprised, but the answer might be ebay.
    I went on a shopping spree a few months ago and am well kitted for several
    years for pennies. there are these dodgy far-east sellers with all sorts of stuff.
    I’ve been able to source lots of SMT / throughhole IC’s / capacitors / resistors / FET parts, as long as they are jellybean you can probably find them for very cheaply and shipping is usually free (if slow).
    All my orders have arrived as described, although there is a known problem of fake components. outside of one order of yet to be tested FET’s which *look* fake, it’s worked
    out great for me.

    also, if you’re in the US, http://www.goldmine-elec.com might fit the bill.

    what happaned to the podcast?!?

  4. Yaron S says:

    I don’t have the energy to retype my now-gone comment.

    so in short:
    1) dodgy far-east ebay sellers

Leave a Reply