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Here is a list of some good parts suppliers in various categories when looking for specialty items beyond the basic tools. Please tell me if you have your own recommendations of vendors to add.

Electronics

  • Adafruit: More open source hardware. Ships from NY. adafruit.com
  • Brown Dog Gadgets: USB charging circuits. browndoggadgets.com
  • Cool Neon: Electroluminescent wire (it glows!). coolneon.com
  • Digi-Key: Excellent prices on coin cell batteries. Ships from Minnesota. digikey.com
  • Electronic Goldmine: They specialize in inexpensive recycled parts. goldmine-elec.com
  • Evil Mad Science: LEDs, open source hardware, and local. evilmadscience.com
  • Hobby Engineering: A supply store for people who want to build robots, electronic gadgets, kinetic art or anything else that moves, beeps or flashes. hobbyengineering.com
  • Jameco: Located in Belmont, will-call availability. jameco.com
  • Maker Shed: Lots of variety, not just electronics. makershed.com
  • Sparkfun: Especially good for robotics parts like motors, controllers, etc. sparkfun.com
  • Weird Stuff: Resellers of surplus computer hardware and software. weirdstuff.com

Mechanical, pneumatic, industrial, fasteners, etc.

  • Grainger: You need a company account to buy on-line, but they have stores around the Bay Area, including San Rafael and Berkeley. If you call a store and order by 9am you’ll have your part by 3pm. grainger.com
  • McMaster-Carr: Extensive and well organized online catalog, fast delivery. mcmaster.com
  • Olander: Mostly fasteners. Located in Sunnyvale, they have will-call availability. olander.com

R/C equipment

  • D&J Hobby: San Jose, very good selection and not just R/C. djhobby.com
  • Tower Hobbies: Extensive selection, good prices. towerhobbies.com

Modeling, molding, casting

  • Douglas & Sturgess: Just about everything you need to model in plaster, plastic, clay, fiberglass, etc. Located in Richmond, but they have an on-line store too. They also have classes. artstuf.com
  • J. Greer: Carries a wide selection of plastic molding and casting materials. Fast delivery too. aeromarineproducts.com
  • Tap Plastic: Stores throughout the Bay Area. They are best known for their selection of acrylic sheets, but they also have most molding and casting materials. Kind of pricey but very convenient with a knowledgeable staff. tapplastics.com
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