Last Updated: January 13, 2013
This is a guide mainly intended for hobbyists and DIY-ers in India, for buying Electronics components, tools and associated hardware for their projects. Unlike the US which has excellent resources like Sparkfun, Adafruit and others, in India, someone who is trying to build something has to deal with a huge number of hurdles – locating parts, paying ridiculous prices (thanks in part to our inane government policies) and dealing with poor customer service and pathetic quality of local components – just to name a few.
This is my attempt to put together a list of resources that I have personally used to procure parts for my projects. I’ll be keeping this updated based on my experience – both positive and negative.
I prefer to shop online because I value my time, and would rather be building things than searching for components. It’s nice to go out shopping once in a while, but I am so glad that we now have some reliable online resources in India.
Finally, we can get our hands on pretty much any component we want. As of Jan 2013, you can buy from them only if you are a company – hopefully with the FDI changes coming to India, that will change soon. This has become my main source for components now. No more waiting 2 hours at a dingy shop in SP road to buy 2 capacitors. I generally found the quality of components to be very high, plus they have data sheets, and in many cases EAGLE files that you can use in the PCBs for your project.
This is a shop based in Kochi, Kerala. They import and sell a lot of components made by Sparkfun, USA. You do have to pay the “Indian Tax” on these components, but it’s not a fixed percentage (varies with parts), which makes me wonder if these guys are being totally honest in their prices. In any case, it is an excellent resource for Arduino boards, and a whole lot of sensors and breakout boards from Sparkfun. They are very prompt with shipping and their website though not fancy is very functional and hassle free. Their packaging is excellent – plastic boxes for your goodies for each order.
Rhydolabz also have their own breakout boards, which unfortunately are priced as high as Sparkfun boards – this is ridiculous, as the quality is just not there. For instance, they sell a PIR sensor breakout board priced at Rs. 425:
This is NOT the same as the Sparkfun board that sells for $10:
Having used the Rhydolabz sensor board, I can assure you that it is of low quality.
This is a shop based in Pune, and it’s a good place to buy cheap Arduino clones (Freeduino). The owner is a friendly guy, and their service is good. Unfortunately their overall selection is poor.
This is a shop based in Chennai, and is a decent resource for passive components, common ICs, transistors, relays, etc. They also have a good selection of microcontrollers – especially PIC. This is also a good place to get the Atmel ATTiny micrcontrolers, although they are much higher priced than element14. Their ordering process is smooth, but a few gripes I have with them are: (a) They ignored my request to avoid DTDC courier (hopeless service in my area) and (b) Poor packaging – they crushed my LED strip.
This is a shop based in Gujarat, and they sell a lot of microcontroller related stuff. The quality is just OK – not on par with Rhydolaz. Also, I had a conversation with their owner about them charging 2.5% extra for net banking. I did not get a satisfactory answer, so I’ll not be buying from them again.
Shop based in Pune. Very prompt service. I could find some difficult to get parts like an ENC28J60 based ethernet module there.
Mach Power Tools
This is a shop based in Chennai. A very good resource for tools – drills, etc. I bought my Dremel 300 kit from here, online. Excellent service. I spoke to the owner as well.
ebay is an excellent resource for tools. I recently purchased an ATTEN 8586 hot air rework station with soldering iron from ebay.
Transacting on ebay can be scary, but if you do your homework, you don’t need to worry. I have a lot of experience with ebay, and here are some tips:
- Go through recent feedback for the seller. Avoid buying from someone who has less than 99% positive feedback.
- Contact seller via ebay with questions. The response time and quality of answers is a good indication of how the transaction will go.
- Find out location of seller, physical store, and their contact number.
- After the transaction, rate the seller. If you feel ripped off, given them an opportunity to correct the issue. If they don’t fix the problem, let it rip – give them a negative feedback and contact ebay for help.
Local Resources (Bangalore)
These are shops in Bangalore I have transacted with. Every city has an “adda” for electronics, and in Bangalore it is SP road.
- SP Road
SP Road is wonderful. Wonderful that is, if you like walking on garbage and dung strewn streets jumping over gutters and trying to stay alive as bikes, autos, trucks and animals (so far I have spotted cats, dogs, cows, horses and donkeys) try to overtake you. Think of a fish market (the Indian kind) and replace the dead aquatic animals with electronics paraphernalia. If you are a hobbyist who does not want to buy 5 zillion diodes, the shops will treat you like shit. To buy a single component, you will likely go up and down the street for an hour. But if you are in dire need of components, you have to make that trip. Here are some of the less ridiculous shops I have had the pain of transacting with in SP road:
- Amar Electronics
This is by far the most decent shop in SP road. The owner is a bit of an eccentric, but he knows which among the million little boxes the MAX 7221 IC you are looking for is stored, and suggest a replacement for that transistor you fried in your circuit. But the helper ladies in that shop – that’s a different story. Say you want to buy a toggle switch and you have picture of it. Show it to the lady, and after staring at it for 30 seconds she will shout “saaar” and ask the poor owner where to look for it. Ridiculous waste of time, but the components I bought from this shop have always been reliable. It’s also a good place to buy a hot glue gun or a multimeter.
- Max Computech
This is a good place to buy Samsung products. I’ve purchased monitors and printers from this shop and they give you a bill and warranty, and are much cheaper than the usual consumer stores ouside of SP road. Expect to pay cash, and expect no gratitude or service.
- Ankit Components
Good place to buy SMD components. Owner seems nice. But digging up microscopic components take time. So prepare to wait with a blank stare… (Or turn around and watch a traffic stand-off between a horse carriage and a man on a donkey.)
- Goodwill Enterprises
The dingy cavernous entrance and broken steps don’t inspire confidence, but they lead to a nice professional looking shop with uniformed employees. They sell a lot of tools – from low to high end. Power tools, soldering stations, etc. – this is the place.
- Melody Electronics
Decent place to buy common components – buzzers, ICs, LEDs, LDRs, etc. You can also get those seemingly hard-to-find dual header pins used for AVRs. I bought a flux pen here at a good price. The owner is friendly and the service is quick. The shop is also a dealer for Fluke multi-meters.
- Amar Electronics
Shops to AVOID
This is a shop based in Bangalore. It doesn’t list a contact number, which should have thrown a red flag for me. I placed an order for a GSM board from them, and I never heard back from them again, despite contacting them repeatedly. Thankfully I chose the net banking payment option, and once I placed the order, the page failed to redirect to payment, thus saving me. Maybe the owner is asleep, on drugs, or is doing psych experiments on unsuspecting online shoppers. In any case, avoid this shop.