I’ve had the opportunity to design and build a number of different circuit boards and embedded designs. The hardware design-build process involves many steps, including parts selection, acquisition, PCB design, ordering, and assembly. Every once in awhile a useful website or community will come along to provide a service to make the PCB process easier. Whether it’s figuring out where parts are available, finding the cheapest PCBs, identifying viable parts, or more, these sites deserve a place in your bookmarks.
Electronic component manufacturers provide a dizzying variety of components (millions of options, if not more), how’s an engineer to find the right part for the job? Enter parts.io, an electronic component search engine which allows users to select candidate components based on design criteria (operating voltage, current, number of I/O, etc.).
An Example parts.io Search
Once you have selected which components your design is going to use, Octopart is the place to go to check supplier stock, minimum order quantities, prices, and more. The site aggregates the inventory of all of the largest electronic component suppliers, providing a competitive market for cheap parts.
No embedded hardware design is complete without a circuit board. Once your board is designed, it’s off to a fabrication house to get the boards made. Most experienced hobbyists will have their fabhouses of choice, and the internet is riddled with threads like this one in which electronics hobbyists sound off about their favorite places to get their circuit boards made. The internet is buried deep in outdated lists of PCB houses, rankings, etc. We’re living in the futue now, though, and PCBShopper has come along to replace our old online forum-asking, list-making ways. Simply enter your circuit board dimensions, number of layers, turnaround time, etc. and the site will compare quotes from 26+ different fabhouses all competing for your order.
An Example PCBShopper Search
What online resources do you find useful? Let us know in the comments below.