Your best advice on buying components?

  • What's your best advice on buying components to your projects?

    I've recently gotten started and built a couple of MYS nodes and other Arduino projects. The local electronics store (Radioshack-style) are happy to sell me much of what I need - ranging from Pro Minis and sensors to boxes and battery holders. But they charge 5-20 times more than Aliexpress and eBay. On the other hand, quality varies when ordering from China and delivery times are painful at best.

    With the mindboggling number of sellers on eBay and Aliexpress, I often find myself spending too much time optimizing orders, trying to order from a minimal number of trustworthy suppliers. (I really prefer to have 2 and not 20 separate deliveries.)

    On the other side of the spectrum there is Farnell, RS Components, Distrelec etc. They have slightly better prices than my local stores and unbeatable delivery times. But the sheer number of components they provide is often too much for me. (165 different rotary encoders to choose from at RS!)

    How do you cope?
    Do you have an online shopping strategy to relieve some of the pain?
    Favourite suppliers?

    My wishlist for a supplier include:

    • Friendly prices (less than Aliexpress/eBay x 3)
    • Reasonable shipping costs for small orders
    • Delivery times within a week (I'm in the EU)
    • Selection of the most common boards, sensors and other components.

    Or is that too much to ask for?

  • Admin

    I think you've made a pretty good analysis of the current situation for all of us doing a little hobby electronics.

    Here in Sweden the postal system has gone haywire the last couple of years due to the 400 000 small grey packages flowing in from China every day... the last few days they've been threatening in the press about adding some administrative fees on handling the goods (a ~€12/package handling fee for adding VAT/tax). This will probably stop some of the inflow and it also increases the need for local EU businesses to step up and handle the import and start selling the things at a fair price. People have gotten used to "china prices".

  • You can try TME. Lot of componments, very good service and delivery in 2 days.

  • Hero Member

    Try to have a lot of different projects going concurrently. That way you're less sensitive to ordering delays.

  • I tend to stock up on things. I prefer to buy 3 Arduino mega 2560 for $20 from ali and have a bad one than fry a $20 original. By the way I have more than 50 megas now, all good. A lot of 10 arrived malfunctioning, I made a video, got my money back, later I've found they all had a bad bootloader, reflashed and happy ever sice 🙂
    Ebay is more cumbersome for me, the very long delays in postage can't extend the paypal/ebay protection, on ali you can. Ebay from Europe is an option for large, heavy, expensive items, I got my cnc, vacuum pump, soldering equipment and my laser from a German reseller, but shipping for smaller items from UK/DE to a country like Romania is many times more expensive than the item itself.
    Tme&Farnell are both good options, low shipping charges, blazing fast, but they sell only original components, so an Atmega2560 is like $12, add a few dollars for a few resistor, oscillator, shipping...
    To buy form ali I usually arrange the listings by order number, then filter by rating, then if the item is more than a dime I read the reviews to make sure they are real. (I left 5* after getting my money back a few times, afterall I haven't lost a dime but the waiting time). On ebay you sometimes get the "sold a bazzillion times" red flag, but you can't sort by nuber of orders, so you can't see the "sheep flock oppinion".

    LE. Oh and I keep a spreadsheet of the orders I made so I can track the parcels untill they arrive. I buy in small quantities so I get the free shipping and free customs tax (under 10 Euro). For eg. Buying 30 Arduino megas can be more expensive than 5x 6pcs orders since many sellers on ali apply shipping taxes after a number of components, 1-4pcs free shipping, 5 pcs $1.71 shipping, 6 pcs $2.31 shipping !?! chinese algos involved 🙂 Also chances of getting a bad lot are smaller. Divide and conquer!

  • on Ebay, try restricting your search to your country. You might get lucky. I found an Ebay store, OddWires, in the US that imports some of the more common China parts and sells them for a slight markup. Once in a while he has a part that I am looking for and I can get it with in-country delivery times at only a slightly higher price.
    Otherwise, I try to stick to suppliers the I have used before or are in the MySensors store. Digikey and Mouser when I am in a hurry.

  • i have an freeway open between china and my house manage by ebay 😛
    There are a lot of online shop like rs-online ,mouser etc but buy and arduino at 30€... if Chinese prices don't exist ,today i wasn't here commented that and i just bought all my electronic actuator already assembled from any brand like fibaro or any zwave brand.
    I like eletronics but not so much for waste 10€ e 2 or 3 mosfets...
    thanks to cheap prices i have an smart house that i understand how it works and i did it myself 😛