I buy a lot of parts. I try to plan ahead to minimize the amount of multiple orders I place. It helps save on shipping. It really stinks when you realize you’re short a 25 cent capacitor and you have to spend another $5 bucks in shipping just to finish a project. Been there, done that.
My preferred vendors are SparkFun, Digi-Key, Adafruit, and Jameco. Occasionally Newark. I try to order whatever I can from SparkFun just to show a little love for the open source community. They’re an amazing bunch of folks. Unfortunately, sometimes their prices can be a little wacky. I get it that everyone has to make a buck, but some of their prices just don’t make any sense.
I hopped on eBay to see if I could pick up some parts on the cheap. After all, I paid 13 cents a piece for 100 RGB LEDs
when SparkFun wanted $2 each. I figured I’d try and save some more money on the parts that I find myself always having to order.
Take these 40-pin headers for example. SparkFun charges $1.50 each. $1.50! Why are these not a quarter?
I picked up 10 male and female 40-pin headers for $3.75. That’s 19 cents each! They’re the same exact quality as the ones from SparkFun. You think the ones from SparkFun are Made in America? They’re no different.
They charge $1.95 for the right-angle version. I scored 10 for $3.99.
How about breadboard jumpers? You can never have enough of those. I scored a pack of 65 for $4.50. That’s 7 cents each. Sizes range from 4” to 10”. SparkFun charges $4.95 for a pack of 30 x 7”, or 17 cents each.
I’m always in the need of 2-pin connectors. SparkFun doesn’t even sell these loose. They only sell them with a 4 3/4” wire attached. They cost 95 cents each. I picked up a 100 pack with inserts for $6.45.
Another item you can’t have enough of is mini push button switches. SparkFun? 35 cents each. eBay? A 50-pack for $2.99. That’s 6 cents each!
Don’t get me wrong, I love SparkFun and Adafruit and all those guys, but there’s definitely something to be said for buying in bulk. There’s definitely also something to be said for buying in bulk from Hong Kong! This stuff is the same exact quality as the stuff I’ve been buying from SparkFun, Adafruit, Jameco, and Digi-Key. It’s not like I’m buying cheap garbage from overseas. This stuff isn’t any different.
I also picked up 10 DS3231 RTCs.
If you order them from the likes of Newark, Digi-Key, or Mouser, you’ll pay a good $8 to $9 for them. I picked up the last batch that I used for the various clocks I’ve made for $4 each from eBay. I did even better this time. I found a Hong Kong seller selling them in 10 packs for $19 bucks. That’s $1.90 each! An unbelievable savings. They are new-stock Dallas chips. The same ones I used in all my clocks and never had a problem with. So I saved a good $70 bucks or so by buying them from eBay.
So how much did I save? I would have paid ~$170.00 if I went with SparkFun and the like. I’m not even counting the 100 Dupont connectors. If I really did buy 100 of those 95 cent ones they sell, that would be another $95 bucks!
I got all this from Hong Kong for $33.73.
Oh, and I almost forgot: FREE SHIPPING! That’s right. There was free shipping on all this stuff! True you have to wait an extra week, but it’s so worth it to save this kind of money.