As you may know, manufacturers are giving away some parts for free in order for companies (and hobbyist) to try out there products.
Just try to imagine what Microchip would be if they did not do that about 10 years ago, meaning that people would have had to buy each IC about 20$ just to make a small robot chasing light work.
Yeah well they probably would not do that well (okey concurrence is ARMed now, but still …)
MCU (18F are a bit outdated IMHO, dsPIC & PIC24 are quite fun to play with), ZigBee, … quality chips, DIY-compliant packages, and now that samples is available for Europe again, great.
Great support, lots of Application Notes available, and Datasheet are detailed (sub-sections are like really detailed, this is really great when you are beggining). Libraries are a bit lacking quality for 8bits products, but for 16bits it is a lot better.
Numbers of chips per order is quite limited.
Received in about 2 weeks, normal International Mail.
MCU, DSP, MEMS parts, RF (ZigBee), awesome products, but most packages are a bit troublesome (QFN & other tiny no-leads parts), but just get a hot-air gun and it should be all right.
Received 2 weeks later, by FedEx.
CAN TS, Level shifters, ADC, DAC, Battery stuff. Most chips are available in samples, lots of declinaison though, and if the “Samples” link is not active for the part you are looking for, click on “Price and Availability” then you will see all versions, then look for a “Sample” button.
Simple international mail.
Pretty much the same kind of stuff you can get from Maxim (+ small LDO, OPAMP, …) , quite limited per product type (3).
I think I received my orders from FedEx.
I was able to order sample once, about 5 months ago, got MCU (STM32 and STR7), MOS, and some touch IC. That was awesome, STM32 are fun to use and the libaries are quite good IMHO, but now I just cannot get any more samples, they are cancelling all my orders (3 so far), so I’m just not able to try out the Connectivity Line which seems great.
Received few MCU samples after signing up to some MCU sample campaign, (got LPC17xx [STM32], LPC2478 [ARM7 w/ USB, ETH, LCD], LPC2939 [ARM9 w/ LQFP package !, + CAN, LIN, USB OTG]).
I was unable to get any more samples from them, which is a shame since they have great SoC, MOS, …
Ordering stuff that is not samples is quite expensive, especially at Farnell, Digikey and other Radiospares online stores which are fast and have pretty much everything, but you don’t get much per euros.
Here is a bunch of stores with great deals:
Free shipping, and a whole bunch of parts and equipments at really low price. I mean, you can get a LiPo battery for 25$ and a hot-air gun for 5$. Check-out the 110g soldering paste for 5$ too.
“This is madness. No, this is DXXXXXXXXX”
Shipping is not fast though, you will need a few weeks min, one or two months top.
PS: do not order an hundreds of products per order, otherwise the package might get noticed at customs and you will have to pay extra fees.
Yet another chinese supplier, what I like thought is discrete kits (SMD 0805 capacitors, 32 values, in box, 9$).
Shipping cost is really expensive (almost 100% of my order), package was delivered about two weeks later (HK Post).
Idem, but this shop is more about LEDs: 250 1206 R,G,B,Y,W, 50 each, for 22$.
Shipping was a bit faster than SE, but I had a problem when ordering, and one mail latter it was solved, they answered quickly, and no more problem in the end