When I wanted to start building a robot recently, I had no idea where to look for parts and information. I’ve learned quite a bit since then, so I thought I’d just share a list of useful websites I’ve found.
Here are places where I’ve bought parts:
- hobbytown.com – HobbyTown has physical locations in my area, so I went to one mostly just to check it out. It was pretty small and didn’t seem to have much of the sort of stuff that I wanted, but I bought some tools and asked the salespeople some questions about motors.
- batteryspace.com – As the name says, this place has tons of batteries. I bought a couple 12 V batteries with barrel connectors to match my mainboard. I also bought a couple motors, a connector, and a charger. The prices seemed pretty good. My only complaint was that shipping seemed a little slow. Waiting for parts is hard when you’re excited to get started building.
- sparkfun.com – I bought a bunch of stuff here: wire, diodes, capacitors, a protoboard, and some screw terminals.
- ghielectronics.com - This is where I got my FEZ Cobra II mainboard, which I discussed previously. They also have lots of other .NET Gadgeteer modules and mainboards.
- servocity.com – Don’t let the name fool you — they have a lot more than just servos. I bought a lot of chassis parts here: small machine screws, motor mounts, wheels, wheel hubs, and metal brackets. Shipping was very fast and they event included some candy with my order!
- digikey.com – This place has an insanely large amount of small electronics parts. What’s awesome is that you can look for parts in a very structured way. You can navigate to a category of part and then you can filter the parts by their specifications (dimensions, voltage, style, etc.). It’s very nice for finding something particular. I bought a lot of little stuff: capacitors, header pins, standoffs, resistors, and alligator clips.
- And of course, don’t forget about Amazon and Home Depot. I bought a soldering iron and some wire on Amazon. I got some wood, screws, and tools at Home Depot. The best thing I found at Home Depot were some small caster wheels. I needed them to be a particular height to match my other wheels and Home Depot had some that were perfect in the toolbox aisle, of all places.
Here are some other parts stores. I haven’t bought parts at these places yet, but they seem to have a good catalog:
Here are some other random sites I came across that looked interesting, but which I haven’t really explored yet:
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been using all these parts for. Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to save that for a future post.
Finally, if you happen to be in the Seattle area (like me), you should check out the Seattle Robotics Society. Meetings are once a month. They’re free and open to anyone.