Just about all the electronics components I use in my projects are manufactured in Shenzhen, China. The logistics of getting them from China to Australia at a decent price is surprisingly tricky. If you are on a budget, you need to research and order two to three weeks in advance. But if you are willing to pay more, you can get most things in under a week. Although expect shipping and handling to cost more than the actual component. It has made me a little jealous of the Shenzhen electronics markets, those places look amazing. Being able to stroll down the street and get any component you need same day or next day at wholesale prices? Yes please.
The following is a summary of online vendors, and how long it takes to get packages shipped from them.
I love eBay for buying most of the parts I use in my projects. I can get just about anything direct from China with free shipping. The biggest downside is shipping time. You are looking at a solid 15-20 business days to get things delivered. This makes eBay perfect for consumables, heat shrink, hot glue, solder and that sort of thing. Even for building up a supply of components you use all the time like resistors, LEDs, heatsinks and ic chips. The sorts of things you can order when you are getting low, and have them arrive before it runs out. It is still a good resource of project specific stuff like motors and actuators, but you need to plan a month in advance.
I found my favourite stepper motor manufacturer through eBay. Wantai. They are the best. There is something futuristic about being able to talk to a Chinese factory, and having them create a custom order on eBay. Then build your motors to order and have them arrive at your house a month later. All without leaving my living room. I imagine this is just a tiny taste of what it must be like to visit those Shenzhen markets.
eBay is often the cheapest, but with the slowest shipping times. Sometimes you luck out and find a cheap part shipped from Australia. Those days are awesome. It is like winning the shipping lottery.
Seeed studios is cool. My friend Michael Candy got me on to them. Seeed is great for microcontrollers, they make some awesome Arduino derivatives. They also stock some great sensors and other base components. You pay a little more for the base components than what you would on Ebay. But if you bundle things up with a larger order of microcontrollers, it often works out alright with faster shipping times. I can get things delivered in 10-14 days via EMS, which is not too expensive and comes with tracking. Seeed often have some good sales with discounts of up to 20%.
Seeed is almost just as cheap as Ebay, but also stock some speciality items you can’t get anywhere else. Medium shipping times via EMS.
Power Supplies Australia
Power Supplies Australia are awesome. They have a huge stock of Meanwell LED drivers and power supplies, plus a flat rate for shipping that can make it to me in two business days. Best Cinco used Meanwell gear on the Golden Orbs project, and Grant Trebbin has a cool Meanwell review. Highly recommended.
If I lived in Mainland US, I would use Amazon a lot. The prices are pretty close to what you would find on Ebay and Seeed, but shipping costs to Australia are brutal. You are looking at 10-15 days to get something shipped from Amazon via the cheapest option. I use Amazon for small things that are cheap to post. I often get microSD cards from them.
Aus3D are new, they are another vendor I found through eBay. They stock and sell a great collection of Arduino, Adafruit and Reprap gear. They are a local seller so shipping is fast, about five days for me in Far North Queensland. They are also reasonably priced.
Element14 stock a lot of different components, and the shipping is fast. They are a great source for Raspberry Pi’s and high quality components. The only catch is shipping and handling on the smaller stuff is expensive. It works out alright if you are buying larger volumes, but not on small batches for prototypes. Probably the closest thing in Australia to living near a Shenzhen market, just don’t expect Chinese prices.
NQ Maker Supplies
NQ Maker Supplies is a recent discovery. Located just a suburb over from me, I can get same day delivery which is awesome for those that live in Cairns. They are just getting started and don’t have a huge variety of stock, but the prices are super reasonable.
Some people prefer pictures, so here is the above in complicated chart form:
- 2016/10/10 - Added NQ Maker Supplies
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Hi! Subconsciously you already know this, but let's make it obvious. Hopefully this article was helpful. You might also find yourself following a link to Amazon to learn more about parts or equipment. If you end up placing an order, I make a couple of dollarydoos. We aren't talking a rapper lifestyle of supercars and yachts, but it does help pay for the stuff you see here. So to everyone that supports this place - thank you.