Buying Arduino supplies online

Arduino UNOI use the Arduino Uno in my System Programming in C course. While most of the programming projects are done on a Linux system, using the Arduinos for a couple weeks mid-semester is a nice break from text-based C. Some students are inspired to buy their own boards and want to know where to buy parts such as switches, resistors, motors, and so forth.

First and foremost, Arduino is a real organization based in Italy. They design and manufacture their own boards. It costs real money and effort to create new products. Support them whenever possible, because what they’ve done to inspire makers around the world has been phenomenal.

Local Retailers

Radio Shack sells real Arduino boards and starter kits. You’ll pay full retail price, but if you want the genuine articles and need them now, this is the place to go.

Fry’s also sells Arduino-compatible boards and kits, such as the OSEPP Uno R3+. The prices aren’t any better than Radio Shack’s, though, so my own personal preference would be to get the real thing and support Arduino.

Online US Distributors

Jameco is a great online US store. They cater to electronics hobbyists by allowing you to purchase in small quantities. Some sample products are:

Maker Shed is a mecca for anyone interested in tinkering around with robotics, wearable art, 3D printing, and drones. They are affiliated with the fabulous Make Magazine and the annual Maker Faire in the Bay Area. Look here for Arduino boards as well as good starter kits that includes a project book and all the parts necessary to build them.

SparkFun Electronics sells a plethora of development boards, including ARM, Raspberry Pi, Beagle, AVR, mbed, and of course Arduino. (SparkFun is where I bought the first set of Arduino Unos that you used in this class.) They also design and sell their own line of sensors and I/O devices, conveniently mounted on boards for easy connection.

Many Arduino kits don’t include a USB cable. Monoprice is the place to get all your cables such as HDMI, Cat5e/Cat6, USB, DisplayPort, optical, and home theater wire, as well as very inexpensive networking gear (switches, patch panels, etc.), IPS monitors, speakers, and much more. Overnight shipping is shockingly cheap. Don’t pay more than a few dollars for any cable, ever again.

Overseas Distributors

If you don’t mind waiting a week or more for your order to arrive, you can’t beat the prices of Asian distributors. They often offer free shipping and quantity discounts.

Deal Extreme sells thousands of gizmos, some of them downright weird. But buried in their vast catalog is a section titled Arduino & SCM Supplies. This is where I purchased mini breadboards and micro servo motors. Other goodies include bundles of pre-cut hookup wires, 16×2 LCD display with keypad, and power supply for breadboards.

Sain Smart sells a limited selection of Arduino-compatible boards and related accessories such as motors and sensors, as well as respectable Chinese test equipment like oscilloscopes and logic probes. This is where I bought “High Quality” Arduino Uno R3-compatible boards for $10 each. Check out the rest of their Arduino-compatible lineup, all for 50-65% less than the real Arduinos. Lots of hobbyists think these are the best clones for the price.

AliExpress is a bazaar of thousands of independent sellers under a common roof. Personally, I get choice paralysis when I browse around AliExpress — there are just too many choices, all of questionable quality and service. I have never ordered from them, but some people say this is the place to get the best deals if you can stomach it.

eBay

Many of the discrete components you used in this class I got from individual sellers on eBay. Overall, I’ve had good experiences with them, but some people have philosophical objects to using PayPal to transfer money. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

LEDs

Who doesn’t like LEDs?

All the LEDs you used are 5mm diffused round. You can get them in smaller and larger sizes, rectangular or round, diffused or concentrated.

My favorite seller is sweetflower8588. Look in the left sidebar to select the size and shape of the LEDs you want. Free shipping and it comes in about a week.

The common-cathode RGB LEDs I bought from bestshop2008hk.

Resistors

I found two distributors of resistors on eBay that I like. Both are based in the US.

The first is E-Project Electronics. They mostly sell resistors, but also a few other discrete components.

The other is FoxyTronics. Their selection of resistors is quite limited, but wow they are cheap and the free shipping is fast.

Switches

I don’t know how long this seller will be around, but here are micro push-button switches that are great for breadboards. They sell a lot of other components, but I have no other experience with them.

Servos

Deal Extreme sells a huge selection of servos.

For high-quality mid-sized servos, such as the continuous rotation servos, look no further than Parallax, just west of us in Rocklin. They don’t have a storefront, but you can go to their offices and buy parts directly from them.

HobbyKing also sells an enormous selection of servos. But shipping takes nearly forever.

Since servos are used in radio-controlled hobbies, you can also get them from nearly any hobby store that sells RC planes, boats, etc. Sometimes their prices beat the online distributors. Shop around.

Check on eBay, too.

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