When Is an Electronics Component Supplier Right for You?
If you're like us, sometimes you go to a large discount store for
bargain bulk groceries; other times, you're off to a corner store
because it's convenient or to a gourmet shop for a special (but
expensive) treat. So how do you choose what electronics supplier to go
to? What makes one electronics supplier better than another? Just like
with food shopping, that might depend on your need of the moment.
If you like to order online, look for handy Web site features, such as
being able to save your order and add to or modify it during multiple
visits to the site. Many suppliers'
Web sites offer this feature, but
most offer it only after you register with their site.
Shipping times can vary based on where an online supplier ships from.
For example, a supplier in a neighboring state might get you parts in a
day or so, whereas one across the country might make you wait four or
five days for your order, depending on the shipping method you choose.
Suppliers typically send parts separated into many little bags, but
different suppliers have different methods of labeling parts. Some don't
label parts all that well, so if you aren't yet confident enough to
identify one component from another, you might want to look for a
supplier who is meticulous about labeling. After ordering from a few
suppliers, you can determine what style of labeling works for you.
Cost is an obvious differentiator. Some companies offer price guarantees
that ensure that if you find a better price, they will match it. Others
impress you with all their specialty items, but they offer them at
less-impressive prices. If you're ordering a lot of electronic parts,
you might want to find a lower cost resource to save a lot over time.
Be careful to check out which version of a part you're ordering. Many
parts are manufactured for use on an automated assembly line with a
method called surface mounting. These do not have pins that allow you to
insert them in a breadboard.
Pay attention to dimensions. Some parts are so small that you can't
easily handle them. Because the sizes are often listed in millimeters,
which you might not be used to deciphering, you might get a component
instead of getting a component that you assumed was about
Need some help using the parts you buy? Some suppliers specialize in
certain special interest areas and offer articles or tutorials on their
Web sites. Other suppliers give you easy access to the manufacturer's
datasheet, which provides useful information to help you see how to
apply the part in a circuit.
Used with permission of the publisher from Electronics Projects For
Dummies by Earl Boysen and Nancy Muir, Wiley Publishing, Copyright 2006.