Starting from a basic eBay buyer’s guide, this article grown to three parts, starting with the buyer’s guide for eBay with tips and tricks, to my general electronics ‘picks’ on eBay, to this one – how to buy Arduino parts at a steep discount.
I’ve saved the best for last – here I’m listing the places I’ve actually bought Arduino parts from and can recommend. Especially when spending $30 or so for an Arduino Mega, you want to feel there won’t be a problem with shipping – and it just so happens they’re among the cheapest, too!
Processors – You can get unprogrammed chips via
(among other electronics parts), and of course you can also contact them directly (they’re Canadian). For small orders, I find their eBay auctions better, since you don’t have to fuss with shipping and handling charges. However, for larger orders you should just go to them directly. I recently bought a selection of prototyping boards from them and was very happy (unlike the eBay ones I purchased, as I mentioned in my last post!)
Arduinos. You can get Unos and Megas galore on eBay. Although you can also buy devices like the
online, I’ve stuck with the Uno and its predecessor the Duemilanove, as well as the Mega devices (currently the Mega 2560,
, and its predecessor, the 1280). Check out If you don’t need to be cutting edge, since these older versions are quite good, and can save you a few bucks. Despite being Chinese clones of the original devices, they look and show well, and should be ideal for your work.
By the way, as far as Arduinos go, all of mine have arrived working. One exception: A Mega1280 came with a loose capacitor, and poorly soldered. It seemed to work, but I was not happy with the indifferent communications with the seller (beauty.2010), so I can’t recommend them.
Battle Hardened Arduinos. The Ruggedino is built to allow goof-ups like crossed wires and too much current. I bought my Ruggedino from eBay (
) rather than directly from ruggedcircuits.com – while they don’t list as often as I like, if they do, it’s a handy way to order it via eBay. One point – here in Canada, they offer a second (cheaper) shipping – if you take it, expect it to take awhile longer, but you’ll save quite a bit.
Stepper Motor shields. I started out with a ULN2003 and a 28BYJ-48 motor (which you can buy online usually
). While fun, these are not practical for anything but learning about stepper motor basics. Instead, I recommend a clone of the
(which is discussed on their site). It can drive 4 motors or 2 stepper motors, as well as
, and can provide around 500mA for each. At under $10, they are a great way to get started with motors of all kinds.
Shields galore. I won’t list them in detail here, since there are so many. Generally, a search for “
” will get you started. Generally, shield refers to a pluggable component for your Arduino. Just one thing to watch out for, however: Some listings will throw in the term “shield” even when it isn’t. Check carefully if the device is designed for the Arduino form factor, since a part like a
can take a little while to wire up properly, whereas a true shield (like the Adafruit motor shield) is simply plug in and program in order to use. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a little tinkering, then you can save, and you learn as well!
Using eBay, I expect I’ve saved on average about 50% over traditional/local prices. Of course, I only use eBay when it’s worth while, and for the items that I feel comfortable with. However, if you’re planning to get into Arduino in a big way, I can’t think of a more inexpensive method that by shopping first at eBay. After all,
(shipping included) is quite the bargain!