Sunday, 3 April 2016

Procuring and sourcing electronic components in India

The one thing that an embedded engineer needs is a lot of electronic components and boards and a decent low cost lab at home. I will write about my sources in procuring and sourcing components in India so that it helps others looking for answers to this.

The first thing that comes to mind for electronics enthusiasts in Bangalore is SP Road. Here you can get a lot of electronic components. I generally go to Vishal electronics but you should explore different shops and find what is needed and select what best fits you. Also do not forget to bargain. Before going there prepare a list and shop fast. The parking situation is horrible and your vehicle can get towed for no reason.

Some of the things you can buy in cheap for a small home lab setup are:
  1. Discrete components. (Resistors, capacitors, transistors, LED's etc). You would generally get through hole types but sometimes SMD components as well. There might be defective parts hence beware. Also since the handling of different components is really questionable be prepared for ESD issues in components.
  2. Soldering station and different solder tips.
  3. Magnifying glass. (Really need this to inspect your soldering and also seeing tiny parts in your PCB's).
  4. Cleaning alcohol solutions
  5. Cables, solder, solder paste  and solder braids (for de-soldering).
  6. Tweezers for holding the components in place while soldering so that you don't burn your fingers.
  7. Bread boards.
  8. Jumper cables. 
  9. Various interface cables such as RS232, USB to serial cables, Straight and cross cables etc. You get the choice of crimping done there.
I generally buy the above stuff in SP road. I generally tend to stay away from buying micro-controller’s or development boards from them because of poor handling but I have started looking at cheaper micro-controllers there.

Apart from this we have some pretty good online stores in India. Some of them are mentioned below:

  1. Tenet Technetronics (  ) -- Slow delivery. I got my two MINI2440's from here. Apart from that I got myself a Nooelec SDR.
  2. Protocentral ( ) --  Fast delivery. Quite costly for simple items. You can find a lot of sparkfun and adafruit designs here.
  3. Kits 'n' spares ( ) -- You get element14 parts as element14 requires you to have a TIN number. Delivery is slow and also they are not organized. You have to follow up them with your orders or it will take a really long time for them to deliver. I got my MSP430 boards from here.
  4. Crazypi ( ) -- Misleading name as you would think they deal with only Raspberry Pi solutions. They deal with ARM SBC's. I got my  TI ARM Sitara based beaglebone from here. You can either go directly to their store or you can order from their website. Good service.
  5. Innovate solutions ( ) -- Deals with ARM SBC's and microcontrollers, debuggers etc.  I got my i.MX6 based wandboard from here. You can also walk into their store to buy your items.
  6. Rhydo labz ( ) -- Personally I have not bought anything from here but heard they are good. You have a good selection of components and boards.
For some of the boards I bought it directly from the vendor store or their partners. Some of them are:

  1. TI eStore ( ) -- Expensive and they only accept credit cards. Good board packaging so no worry about ESD's. Surprisingly fast delivery. I bought my MSP430 launchpads as well as MSP430 through hole package sample chips from them.
  2. Coreel Technologies ( ) -- I bought a FPGA Digilent Basys 2 board from them. Expensive but they offer guarantees and warranties. Good packaging.

It is a good idea to invest some money on an oscilloscope. I have a Rigol  DS1102E two channel 100MHz oscilloscope. It is a really nice scope for a low price compared to a Tektronix or an Agilent. It costed me Rs 31500. You can buy it when they offer discounts. I bought it from Salicon Tech ( ). The prices are slightly expensive but the service is good. They provide after sales service provided you bear the cost. (Shipping + repair).

Apart from this you can always order free samples of different chips from different manufacturers and vendors to try it out in your designs. I got some free samples from FriendlyARM which I have detailed in my previous posts.

Apart from these have good relations with the vendor FAE's and always ask/bug them for development boards/parts whenever you meet them. They generally have some boards/chips lying around or they can offer you some refurbished boards or they will have connections which will allow you to get some boards/chips/parts at massive discounts.

Hope I have covered most of the things. I will edit this post from time to time if I find good vendors.

“Artists work best alone. Work alone.”
― Steve Wozniak,

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