Robots are fun to build yourself. And although there are a lot of Do-It-Yourself websites describing circuits and alike, it might be tough to find websites actually selling the components you need. This is a short review of different websites that help you in actually getting those components when you live in Europe. Companies like Adafruit, Mouser (see this forum post on saving on shipping costs), SparkFun, Digi-Key, Farnell, Newark and the somewhat lesser known Pololu, RobotShop, and Allied are cool but they ship from the other side of the Atlantic ocean. There are also distributors operating from China, such as Seeed Studio and DFRobot.
One of the companies which is based in France is Lextronic, another one is Cooking Hacks based in Portugal, and in Germany there is of course Conrad and lesser known Pollin. In Belgium we have KidLogic and Rato. In Switzerland there is Distrelec. In Bulgeria there is Olimex.
We are a Dutch company, so of course, we would like to give some pointers about how to source components in Holland. Even in our little country, you will find several resellers, such as Antratek, iPrototype, Sos Solutions, EZtronics, HobbyElectronica, VanAllesEnMeer, Hackerstore, Kiwi Electronics, Okaphone, HTF Electronics, BudgeTronics, MyCom, VOC Electronics, TinyTronics, Electronica Onderdelen Online, Kent Electronics, DIL Elektronika, Hecke, Brigatti, Aduis. If you click on any of these it will open in a new tab, but the same one for all, which I labelled “webshop”.
If you want to search for them yourself, it is smart not to choose “robot” as the keyword. Use for example “Arduino” or “Raspberry”. A company like sunbedded or Duinos specializes in Arduino-based products for example. A website like Raspberry Store or Minifo specializes in the Raspberry PI, as does GadgetPark although they include mediaplayers in general as well. A combination with home automation is also possible as for example is the case for the domotica-shop.
At times you might also find components on general computer webshops such as Informatique, or other websites in the Pricewatch of Tweakers. But, they tend to be quite expensive and have a very small inventory. However, if the only thing you need is a Raspberry PI, they can provide!
Also, when you want to go from breadboards to PCBs, the company EuroCircuits can not be unmentioned. For around 100 bucks you can have your own PCB and you will only need to solder the components yourself. Regretfully, placing components, PCB assembly, is still incredibly expensive and we have not found any company who is willing to do this for under a 1000 euros for a few prototypes. An example of a company providing a turnkey solution to PCB assembly is NexPCB which offers it for $1199,- for 10 PCBs. However, it is much likely that a service like Seeed Studio Propagate, Circuitology, Elecrow, Smart Prototyping, or ITead is much cheaper. Now you know some names it is easier to come across blogs and forum posts comparing the different services such as for example on YourITronics. If you have good experiences with any of these companies for PCB assembly, we would love to hear!
If you want any (or your) company to be added, feel free to drop an email or comment. We are happy to provide a link to your business as long as it resides in Europe! A little bit of a positive discrimination for a change. :-)
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