Author Topic: In the US: Digi-Key, Mouser, Newark, Amazon, eBay - Where do you buy components?  (Read 469 times)

Dolmetscher007

I am ready to take the plunge, and start my first pedal build.  I have three key issues that I want to accomplish with my first 10 builds. These are in order of importance, #1 being the most important.

But first... I tend to get really wordy in my posts, going off on tangents and over-explaining everything. So to try to stay succinct:

QUESTION: In the United States, where do you guys tend to buy most of your small pedal components? I really like the idea of a one-stop-shop rather than an eBay situation where I am sourcing components from 20 dif. sellers, and checking my mail for 2 weeks as parts trickle in. But I have zero experience, so I am totally open to you guys's experience and suggestions.

For those that care to keep reading...

  • Build the highest quality pedals I possibly can: That means that, within reason, I want to use the highest quality components that make sense. What I mean by that is... I know that you can buy a .0030uF capacitor that costs $8.49 ea. and you can also buy a .0030uF capacitor for $0.49 ea. If the $8.49 caps are genuinely better suited to high-end audio applications, and they would actually affect the end sound, I'd gladly pay the $8+. But I know that with electronics, sometimes the $8+ component is 2,000% more expensive than the $0.49 component because of things like temperature ratings, marine/space/military testing, ultra small packaging for cell phones... or whatever... characteristics that have nothing to do with it's audio performance. Sticking with capacitors as an example, I read that ceramic caps are generally given the thumbs down in favor of film or mica. I do not know why, or to what degree. So when in doubt, I probably would pull the ol' n00bie move and by the most expensive one.
  • Learn as much as I can: I just ordered two pedal "kits," but only the PCBs. I could have maybe saved some cash, and definitely a lot of time by just buying the kit a little more complete w/ the little bag of components too. But then, I would just be following instructions, and not learning WHY these components were chosen by the pedal designer, and I would be cheating myself out of the opportunity to become familiar with the component sourcing side of building things.
  • Stay on a very tight budget: I know that when it comes to DIY projects, whether it be: cooking a meal, sewing your own shirts, brewing your own beer, building your own furniture, or building your own guitar pedals... saving money is rarely ever a smart way to look at it. All of the above project, for the most part, end up costing either around the same amount or often even more than just buying the commercial version of whatever you are trying to make. There are some exceptions, particularly with electronics, and ever more so with vintage electronics where the commercial version is either no longer made, or is insanely overpriced due to esoteric demand perception. I MYSELF, however, am not a wealthy man. I am paycheck to paycheck. I hate to admit that publicly, but I feel it is relevant to this question, for anyone who might make a suggestion to me... please keep in mind that while I do want the above two elements above all else... I am still in no position to start missing car payments squeak out .01dB less 60 cycle hum, or whatever. Lol.


EBK

I tend to give smallbear most of my money:
http://smallbear-electronics.mybigcommerce.com

I'll go to Mouser if I need something smallbear doesn't carry. 

If you realize you forgot to order a single part and don't want to wait until you can come up with a list of other things you need, you can check to see if Arrow is offering free shipping on all orders. They are a very crazy company when it comes to overpackaging parts (it wouldn't be surprising, for instance, to see them pack a single screw in multiple layers of antistatic protection within multiple ziploc baggies in a large box) and undercharging for shipping, but they are reliable and must be making a profit somehow.  :icon_lol:
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 01:50:10 PM by EBK »
No affiliations. If I glowingly mention specific merchants or products, it is because I like them without having to be paid to like them.

davent

When i was building, for very pedal specific/unique parts, knobs and pots, Small Bear - where you can do one-spot pedal parts shopping. And then for me, mostly everything else, i was also building guitar amps, stereo gear etc., Digikey and Mouser.

I'm in Canada.
dave
"If you always do what you always did- you always get what you always got." - Unknown

Dolmetscher007

When i was building, for very pedal specific/unique parts, knobs and pots, Small Bear - where you can do one-spot pedal parts shopping. And then for me, mostly everything else, i was also building guitar amps, stereo gear etc., Digikey and Mouser.

I'm in Canada.
dave

I bet you guys can get it all at Canadian Tire. Ha ha ha!!!

I've never been to Canada. I'm in Charleston SC, which is almost as far away from Canada as one can be and still be in North America. BUT... I absolutely LOVE the Canadian contribution to most everything I do hobby-wise. I am crazy into woodworking and furniture design, and for some reason, Canadians just seem to totally dominate the woodworking field... on YouTube, the book market, the tool production industry, and just in general. And when I'm watching one of my woodworking heroes on YouTube, at least once per episode, he'll say... "I stopped in and picked up this tool at Canadian tire for almost nothing."

He could be talking about a chisel, some nails, a shirt, ceiling tile, a brick, a grilled cheese sandwich, press-on finger nails, coffee creamer... you name it... apparently they sell it at Canadian Tire. The one thing I've never heard of someone buying there... is a tire! Lol!

One of these days though... I WILL make it to Canada... and I will probably want to move there... and I will finally go into a Canadian Tire.


...Ooo ooo ooo!!! And a Lee Valley store. Oh man!

davent

Well at least Lee Valley is easily accessed by you, placed an order Thursday as they had a free shipping deal on.  Canadian Tire and also Princess Auto is another sleeper but then you guys have Harbor Frieght Tools, we can't match that one.
dave
"If you always do what you always did- you always get what you always got." - Unknown

EBK

And, we ALL have access to Tayda, right? 

(I've never actually ordered from them, so I can't properly give our new friend any advice on that front, but I know someone here can fill that void.)
No affiliations. If I glowingly mention specific merchants or products, it is because I like them without having to be paid to like them.

davent

And, we ALL have access to Tayda, right? 

(I've never actually ordered from them, so I can't properly give our new friend any advice on that front, but I know someone here can fill that void.)

I tried them and won't bother again, #1 objective in the OP precludes them as an option.

dave
"If you always do what you always did- you always get what you always got." - Unknown

Prehistoricman

Sticking with capacitors as an example, I read that ceramic caps are generally given the thumbs down in favor of film or mica. I do not know why, or to what degree. So when in doubt, I probably would pull the ol' n00bie move and by the most expensive one.

You'll find these kinds of recommendations throughout the guitar scene. Grains of salt are necessary, and you should experiment by yourself. Build a pedal and swap the caps while making a recording of what it sounds like. For most pedals, you can record your guitar and use any music player to play the guitar into your pedal so the experiment is valid.
Some will tell you they can hear the difference between electro and film coupling caps and use very imaginative language to describe the difference. Key word: imaginative.

More expensive doesn't guarantee quality in types of caps. Large value solid capacitors are clearly going to be more expensive than electrolytics but their performance as a power supply decoupling cap will be very similar and have no difference to your tone.

That said... burn all ceramics.  :icon_lol:

EBK

That said... burn all ceramics.  :icon_lol:
Nah.  In the pF range, ceramics are fine.  Just buy NP0 or C0G types if they are in your signal path.

(Even this advice is not strictly necessary to follow.)


Going back to cheaper vs. more expensive, price may represent many completely irrelevant "advantages", such as high temperature, high voltage, or high frequency operation.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 06:17:22 PM by EBK »
No affiliations. If I glowingly mention specific merchants or products, it is because I like them without having to be paid to like them.

bean

Mouser and smallbear cover about 95% of what I have in my workshop, which itself has many thousands of components. On caps, you cannot go wrong with basic poly film caps. You do not need to spend a lot of money to get great results. IOW, if you want to spend time agonizing over parts and their cost and whatever small difference one type versus another makes, then go ahead. Just remember most of that minutiae gets lost as soon as you actually play at stage levels or put it to "tape".

Whatever small differences that exist between brand, etc. are only going to really count in very controlled testing situations. Once you factor in different room sizes, types, other instruments (even environmental factors can have a strong effect on sound) then the machinations over "highest quality parts" becomes a bit silly. Most parts you can buy from established retailers and vendors are already high quality because their manufacturing processes have been nailed down for decades. Which isn't to say there are not preferred choices (like EBK said about NP0 and C0G).

Put it this way: it's better to build up a good library of modestly priced components that allow you to build lots of circuits rather than needlessly sink a lot of money into specialized or pricey mojo. Once you've built lots of pedals and know your favorites then sure...do a nice pricey mojo build or two.

reddesert

Nearly all passive components (resistors, capacitors) that you can buy from a online store (including Tayda) (and maybe even from random sellers on ebay) are "good enough" for audio applications. For semiconductors I would go with a highly trusted source to start (smallbear, Mouser, Digikey), though TBH I have never had a problem with a Tayda semiconductor. What you should not do is buy exotic or out of production parts on ebay. That's a recipe for disappointment.

For a beginning pedal builder, I think it is much more important to practice your assembly skills and making good solder joints than to worry about small differences in component quality. And to get a voltmeter, make an audio probe, and practice debugging using the advice you can find on this forum (measure voltages, trace the audio signal, etc).

I built my first pedal in 1989 or so with components that mostly came from Radio Shack and it still works, but the offboard wiring is a bit spaghetti and some of the wires have needed to be resoldered.

thermionix

Tayda is good for some things, the resistors are dirt cheap and I haven't had an issue with any so far.  Alpha pots are Alpha pots no matter where you buy them.  Small Bear is great for harder-to-find items, their finished enclosures are generally better looking than Tayda's, but I've used both.  I get some stuff on Ebay, you have to know how to avoid fakes and rejects.  Mouser is usually overpriced, but I shop there occasionally.  I can't think of any build where everything was sourced from a single vendor.

MaxPower

I buy from Tayda and Mouser.  Haven't had any issues with either.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us - Emerson

italianguy63

Depends for me what it is and what quality I need..

Enclosures, knobs, hardware, some components - "factory direct" from China.
Resistors, some capacitors, most pots, etc. - Tayda
Specialty, or higher quality parts, jacks, IC's - Mouser
Hard to find parts, pots - Small Bear
NOS mojo stuff... eBay, and my local surplus source
Some IC's and semi-conductors  (as noted be careful)!  eBay.
And I have probably 5 other vendors I do regular business on for specialty needs...
Some switches, jacks, hardware - LoveMySwitches

It takes some time and experience to sort through who has what at the best price and quality.

MC

I used to really be with it!  That is, until they changed what "it" is.  Now, I can't find it.  And, I'm scared!  --  Homer Simpson's dad

PRR

> I want to use the highest quality components that make sense.

No. That does not make sense.

1) Most of the "classics" were built of the LOWEST price parts they could find.

2) If you are not putting your gear deep in an oil-well or high in the stratosphere, "ALL"(*) common electronic parts are "high quality" as far as you care.

(*) Modern exceptions: eBay is full of scoundrels offering rejects and outright fakes. They depend on buyers not using the parts right away (within refund period) and not knowing why their build does not work; also that when they sell 1-cent parts they can give a lot of 50-cent refunds and still come out ahead. Even the eBay sellers who are not scoundrels are often disappointing- parts not quite right, quantity over quality.

And since you don't know what you are doing, shop at SmallBear and similar specialized part suppliers. Once you go to Mouser et.al. you drown in "too much choice"--- parts that may be right for robot-assembled cell-phones or for monster motor controllers but have no good use in audio pedals.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 08:22:54 PM by PRR »

Rob Strand

Quote
1) Most of the "classics" were built of the LOWEST price parts they could find.
Cheap then isn't like cheap now.
Cheap then  = works for 20 years
Good now    = might last 10 years
 :icon_mrgreen:
The mind often distorts without gain.

Dolmetscher007

Ah man... guys... my head is going to explode! Literally... just burst off my shoulders like a watermelon with an M-80 crammed in.

I bought two pedal "kits"; PCB only.
This one: http://permanentelectronics.com/ and This one: https://www.synthrotek.com/products/effect-pedal-circuits/rat-clone/.

I bought the PCB only versions so that I could "learn" all about caps, resistors, diodes, and how/where to order them. I had read a great deal about, and knew going in that electronics components have a lot of values, characteristics, materials, packages, etc. but HOLY S**T!!! I spent at least 8 hours yesterday, sat at my desk at home, filtering on Digi-Key's website, flipping through Small Bear, googling for datasheets, and now, all that I am is confused.

I have a baller Google Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1to6Ch09S8c4djscaEmSqYLVj6R5yO8R8n78-_AtMdVE/edit?usp=sharing... that has every component I need to buy and it's value etc. but I cannot tell if it is better to buy a .012F film cap in a Box made by Topmay or a 12 nF Panasonic in a Polyester radial package. Or a ceramic... or... or... or...

Digi-Keys website is like cracking the Rosetta Stone it has so many things to consider. Small Bear seems to have too little information. For example.. who in the f*** manufactures "Greenies" and how do I find out what their "spacing" is? Small Bear doesn't say, and no Google search is turning up a data sheet. If the PCB's BOM specifies 5mm under "spacing" that does mean "lead spacing" right? What if you buy a 5.08mm cap, or if you need a 3mm spacing cap, and you buy a 2.5mm cap... can you just bend the leads and make it work, or is that not okay?

Also it seems like 90% of Digikey's components have 0 in stock, or you need a decoder ring to figure out how you are buying them. Tape, Box, Tape in box, Bulk...

Are there no retail electronics stores anymore? Did Radio Shack die and that was it? Frustrated only scratches the surface. Ha ha ha. I am going to go try and find my happy place. lol!



EBK

Ok, time to breathe.

Your frustrations are all valid.
Luckily, we can help you work through them if you are willing to be helped.   :icon_wink:

Let's not try to handle everything all at once though.

I'll try to find a post I wrote about buying caps from Mouser. 

A quick simplification first, though.  Anything you buy from smallbear will work fine, regardless of whether it is red or green, boxy or dipped, expensive or cheap.  Steve has filtered out all of the stuff that won't work for pedal building and focused on the stuff that will work.  Somewhere I think he has premade shopping lists for specific pedals, but I'm not sure how to find them on his site.
No affiliations. If I glowingly mention specific merchants or products, it is because I like them without having to be paid to like them.

Ben N

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But Mouser shipping charges...  >:(

amz-fx

I buy most parts from Mouser since they are close to me and even with the cheapest shipping, the order usually arrives the next day.

For more specialized items, I go to Small Bear and then maybe Mammoth if I am still looking for certain items.

regards, Jack