- Digi-Key The world's best inventory of electronics parts, and basically the easiest place on earth to order from. Digikey is located in Minnesota: Standard shipping = one-day delivery! Digi-key is good if you know your exact part or need to select a specialty item. If you're looking for common everyday items it's sometimes hard to distinguish them from the million variations available at Digi-key. Searching digikey is great, but also use the catalog page links to find related items easily. Click here for a look behind the scenes at Digikey.
- Mouser Electronics Similar to Digikey, huge inventory, many variations on each product, but they are not as easy to order from as Digikey and not as fast. If both Mouser and Digi-Key have what you're looking for, get it from Digi-Key.
- Jameco Electronics Good general purpose electronics vendor. Good if you need to browse mostly standard off-the-shelf type components. They mostly stock standard everyday parts, not specialty parts or variations on the norm.
- All Electronics Similar to Jameco. General stock of electronic parts, with some interesting unique items as well. They also sell a variety of electronic project kits.
- Electronics Express / RSR Another good general vendor, though not as complete a selection or as good a web site as Jameco. They usually have really good prices, namely because a lot of their stuff is generic/import items.
Microcontrollers, Integrated systems & Robotics:
- Marlin P. Jones Surplus electronics of all kinds at great prices. Inventory is a bit unpredictable except for standard common items, but most items are often highly discounted. If you're looking for cheap components and interesting items for random projects and tinkering around, this is THE place to go, especially for LEDs, motors, power supplies, etc.
- Electronic Goldmine Somewhat unpredictable inventory, with great prices on many standard items. Wide variety of parts, although what is stocked and the exact items change frequently. It's a great place to get good deals, but word for the wise: Once an item goes out of stock it disappears from their web system, so it's best to save whatever info they offer about an item (specs, data sheets, etc) when you buy it because looking it up later may not be possible.
- Electronic Surplus Another handy electronic surplus dealer. More random assortment than MPJA but they have great deals on odd items, and there inventory is large so there's always good stuff to be found. If you are contemplating an expensive item, check to see if these guys have an equivalent and you might save a bundle.
- American Science & Surplus The coolest mail order store on earth. Think Axman2. A comprehensive collection of odd and bizarre items, all under one roof. Great place to look for random supplies, materials, and surplus items for cheap. Plus their product descriptions are comical enough to read for their own sake. Check it out!.
- Sparkfun Electronics Wide variety of micro-controller items and accessories (Arduino, etc). Great inventory. Not the cheapest per se, but they add value in having everything you'd need plus offering curriculum help, ready-made lab experiments, and other items useful to educators.
- Adafruit Industries Lots of fun maker-oriented electronics items like microcontrollers and accessories... especially LED lighting, e-textiles, and other fun stuff. Similar to Sparkfun but a little more eye-candy oriented.
- Pololu Hard-core robot-building headquarters. Motor drivers, motors, gears, chassis & parts, controlers, sensors, wireless, batteries & packs, general electronics, and much more. Lots of RC stuff too.
- Acroname Robotics supply, a variety of parts, sensors, batteries, communications, etc for robot building.
- All Electronics Another general supplier frequented by robot builders. Though more oriented toward projects and kits, they have parts, sensors, and other items.
- Tower Hobby Hobby parts of all kinds - motors, propellers, wheels, RC supplies, raw materials, glue, etc.
- Horizon Hobby Another hobby vendor with R/C emphasis, they stock lots of kits and parts, materials, motors, radios, etc.
PC Boards: Keep in mind that, while some manufacturers have free PCB creation software, the UST ENGR department has Multisim/Ultiboard which is an excellent circuit analysis and PCB creation tool.
- Batteries & Butter A must-see supplier! The single most comprehensive battery resource anywhere. Every imaginable type of battery, with a wide array of choices for each type. Everything from consumer brands to industrial generic-label batteries in every price range. Individual batteries, retail packs, bulk quantities, they have it all. Once you visit B&B you will never believe you ever paid retail for batteries.
- All-Battery Huge variety of batteries of all types and sizes, chargers, power adaptors, etc. Their "Tenergy" brand batteries are very good and, in my extensive testing, absolutely equivalent to Energizer and Duracell.
- Advanced Aircuits Top-notch custom PCB manufacturer. Be sure to check out their special deals for students They have a free PCB software tool that is quite popular.
- ExpressPCB Used with success by students, they have a free pcb creation tool as well.
- BatchPCB No personal experience, but students have reported to me that these guys are cheap for 1-off or low quantity jobs.
Wire & Vehicle-oriented supplies: Relays, switches, breakers, fuses, fuse holders, crimp connectors... (stuff for anything running on a DC bus):
- Waytek A great one-stop resource for everything vehicle related (such as robots, UAVs, FSAE car, anything using 12 or 24v DC electrical bus). They are in the twin cities so items can be picked up same-day or ground shipping usually comes in 1-2 days.
- Del City An alternative to Waytek, sometimes offering different lines or brands or pricing. NOT local so shipping takes longer, but still a good resource if Waytek doesn't have what you need.
- Pasternack Enterprises Coaxial connectors and cables of all kinds. RF Headquarters, period. If it exists in the world, Pasternack has it. However, they are very expensive. I find them quite useful in identifying the parts I am looking for, then try to find them cheaper elsewhere. If it's a common item it will cost much less elsewhere (sometimes an order of magnitude or more!). If it's a specialty item you may be stuck buying it from Pasternack, but that's ok because they WILL have it.
Local Twin Cities Sources:
- AX-MAN The be-all end-all confluence of awesomeness. Surplus goods of all kinds, including lots of mechanical and electrical items. Your first-stop shop for everything project-related. Nearest location is on University Ave, 1 block west of Snelling. 1639 University Ave.; St. Paul, MN 55104; (651)646-8653
- Waytek A great one-stop resource for everything vehicle related (such as robots, UAVs, FSAE car, anything using 12 or 24v DC electrical bus). They are in the twin cities so items can be picked up same-day or ground shipping usually comes in 1-2 days. 2440 Galpin Court, Chanhassen MN 55317; (952) 949-0765