Electronic Parts Companies and Useful Engineering Resources

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Electronic Demonstration

This is a great website that you can use to simulate simple electronic circuits. It also contains many built-in demonstrations that you can use to learn about how electronic components work, such as RC circuit and 3-way switch.

Embedded System Parts Resources

This is a list of resources put together in order to help students find parts for their class projects, personal hobby, senior project, and beyond. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but it will definitely get you started on the right track in case you were wondering where to find things like motors, resistors, sensors, etc.

Local Parts Sources

The following are local suppliers of electronics and some mechanical components. Praise the deity of your choice that you're blessed enough to study in Silicon Valley. Most places don't have this type of selection of places to hit up for a random bit of glue logic on a Saturday morning.

  • Halted (HSC)
    3500 Ryder Street
    Santa Clara, CA 95051
    Halted is an excellent source for power resistors & caps, stepper motors, power transistors and random electronics. Don't rely on them to have anything in particular, but if you're in a bind, they may have something you can work with.
  • Anchor Electronics
    2040 Walsh Ave.
    Santa Clara, CA
    Less selection than Halted, but far better organized. Anchor has most in the LS74(logic gates) catalog and quite a bit additional. Even if you don't need anything, it is probably worth dropping by their showroom. They have everything you'll need to make your own printed circuit boards, if that interests you. DemoBoard is also associated with them.
  • Advanced Component Electronics(ACE)
    1810 Oakland Road, Suite C
    San Jose, CA 95131
    They probably have about as wide of a selection as Anchor, though their parts tend to be more modern. Unfortunately, they are not very browse-able, so you kind of have to know what you're looking for. Even so, parts can be found there which might not be available elsewhere, locally.
  • Jameco
    1355 Shoreway Road
    Belmont, CA 94002
    This is a serious company, supplying parts to firms nationwide. Tends to be a bit more expensive than the previous, but has modern parts in stock and available. Though Belmont is a bit of a drive, if you need something special and fast, Jameco is probably your best bet.
  • Sheldon's Hobbies
    2130 Trade Zone Blvd.
    San Jose, CA 95131
    They have a nice selection of small motors, D/C, stepper, and servo along with the corresponding gearing. Don't expect them to know anything about the specs of the motors they offer or the gearing ratios possible with their hardware. They are not focused on what we do, but they do have quite the selection behind the counter.
  • Alltronics
    2761 Scott BLVD
    Santa Clara, CA 95050
    You can order online and request that your item be picked up will call at the address above. They have a lot of electronic parts with some mechanical stuff sprinkled in, search through the website because what they stock seems to change
  • Radioshack
    Various locations
    I'm sure most people are familiar with RadioShack. They have some common components like resistors, capacitors, etc. Last time I went to one of their stores, I was surprised that they are now stocking Arduinos, Arduino Shields, and they even had some Parallax sensor components (PIR motion sensor for example).
  • Fry's Electronics
    Various Bay Area Locations
    This is another familiar store for most folks around the bay area. They actually have at least a whole aisle dedicated to electronic parts which can be used in your projects. You can find soldering supplies here and other electronic parts for when you don’t have the time to order from SparkFun or Mouser.

ICs and Specific Companies

Here are some chip design and manufacturing firms which you might have luck obtaining parts from at either no cost (samples) or low cost. In the case of all samples, you need to be careful because they might arrive in a week, or sometimes in a month, so plan ahead! Also, be SMART about how often you request samples, the point of them from the companies’ perspective is that you will try and then hopefully buy. (Don't be greedy or else you might get cut off, or worse, you might ruin the sample program for others)

  • Maxim
    Maxim designs a bunch of peripheral ASICs covering the spectrum of needs. Many of the EE and CMPE students from SJSU end up working for this local company. They'll provide engineering samples for many of their ASICs, especially the less sophisticated through-hole units. Their communications chips are top notch.
  • Analog Device
    This venerable company designs and manufactures a nearly uncountable number of fundamental analog chips (op amps, A/D, D/A, etc.). I've used many of their A/Ds to good effect. Many of their engineering samples are free, and the for-pay ones usually ship quickly.
  • Microchip
    Though most famous for their 8 and 16 bit PIC microcontrollers. Microchip generates a ton of peripheral chips which tend to be easy to use and credibly well documented with ample application notes. They ship their engineering samples very quickly, and most of their catalog is open for samples.
  • Samtec
    They make many popular connectors including JTAG, XBee, etc. If you need some connectors or are creating a PCB which utilize any of their components. You can request a "sudden sample" if you don't need too many. The samples arrive very quickly!

National Companies

An internet search will show you a plethora of sources for most anything you're looking for. Unfortunately, some of them won't ship in quantities of 1 - 5. Though these may not be the least expensive, you can probably find whatever you need from one of them.


  • Digi-Key
    These guys are expensive, and the shipping can be brutal, but they have pretty much everything electronic (usually in stock and shipping in a day). When you really need a particular part fast, especially something fairly modern, check Digi-key. The service is as excellent as the stock.
  • Mouser Electronics
    Similar to Digi-Key, but their website layout and search system might be a bit more user friendly. Be aware that you can’t tell what your shipping is until they pack it (this goes for Digi-Key and some other sites as well), so be careful about which shipping you choose. For Mouser, the lowest ground UPS shipping or Priority mail is usually the one to pick. You can make a note on your order to try and fit the order into the smallest box possible.
  • Avnet
    They are bigger than both Digi-key and Mouser, and they also are more focused on their corporate customers. They are getting better about carrying products in lower quantities for people like us. They also might have flat rate shipping for up to 20lbs.
  • Amazon
    Amazon is much more than a bookstore nowadays as many of you might know. Through their affiliates they are stocking an increasing number of parts, especially development boards (like the Arduino boards, Arduino shields) and peripheral assemblies (like accelerometer break-out boards). Prime shipping is definitely a nice touch if you can get an item that can utilize that
  • Adafruit
    Very hobbyist electronics focused so you will find tons of stuff for your Arduino and other platforms like Raspberry Pi and mBed. The great things about the site is the tutorials and documentation which are available for the items which they sell which make it easy to get started with sensors for a hardware hacking project.
  • Sparkfun
    Catering to the maker/hobbyist market, Sparkfun tends to stock pre-assembled development boards, break-out boards, and peripherals. They develop many of their break-out boards themselves, and regularly have easily usable versions of peripherals or peripheral controllers which simply aren't available anywhere else.
  • Pololu
    Stocks things along the lines of Adafruit and Sparkfun but with a robotics emphasis. Excellent place to find assorted robotics and electronics. They have a lot of useful boards to interface to motors, power, sensors, you name it.
  • Gravitech
    Also targeting the maker/hobbyist market, Gravitech has many surface mount parts available on through-hole boards for use on protoboards. Their selection of ready to use I2C peripherals are particularly useful
  • Parallax
    They are best known for their BASIC Stamp microcontroller platform. They also sell lots of great accessories and sensors.


Honestly, finding mechanical components locally is hard. There are a few hobby shops, catering to the remote control car/plane crowd which are promising, but they tend to both not really understand what we need and aren't horribly enthusiastic about our business.

  • McMaster-Carr
    These guys are to hardware what Digi-key/Mouser is to electronics. They probably have what you need, if you can find it in their expansive catalog (call them, if you can't find it), but they won't be the cheapest option. Be wary of the shipping, it can be brutal for heavy parts.
  • Lin Engineering
    This is a stepper motor company which is local to the Bay Area. Their steppers can be found on other site stores like Alltronics and eBay. You might have luck requesting a stepper to use on your project if you contact their sales team and mention that you are a student working on a project that would gain them more visability.
  • VXB Ball Bearings
    They really only sell bearings of various types, but friction can derail a design faster than almost anything. This small family run company will work with you to find the right bearings for your needs.


  • Techshop
    300 S. 2nd Street
    San Jose, CA 95133
    Techshop is a membership club which offers a plethora of tools to construct mechanisms made of wood, metal, acrylic, plastic, and other materials. In addition to the predictable hand-tools, they offer a bevy of CAD/CAM machines, including laser cutters and 3D printers. They provide a unique space to construct the project of your dreams. Their "dream coaches" are invaluable resources for the physical manufacture a project or prototype. They do require a monthly commitment, but have student pricing. Take a free tour to check out the facility. They're only located two blocks off of campus.

Additional Resources

Useful Websites