Resources

Last updated: 2017/12/07

I’m just making notes of some resources I’ve researched or found useful.

I’m based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, so these have a slant towards the shops and groups close by.

I include my opinions and impressions, including things I heard from others. In general, the listing indicates a ranking, first ones listed are better, but not always.

This list is not complete by any means. If you want to add anything, let me know via email or on the Arduino Cape Town group on Facebook.

I’m excluding the local hardware stores and the chains like Builders Warehouse, Brights, Mica, Timbercity and Penny Pinchers.

General

Being in South Africa, we pay a lot to get items from overseas and the delivery is long and unpredictable. This is just a reality. Even shipping in South Africa is sometimes expensive. So, in general, I try the following:

  • Find a local shop with the items or good equivalent
  • Find an SA supplier with non-outrageous pricing
  • Chinese supplier (long wait, but cheap and shipping costs are very low)
  • US/European supplier with an SA distributor. Probably about same pricing as importing, but hopefully faster.
  • US/European supplier with shipping to SA. Usually require a minimum order size to make it worthwhile.

Online Groups

If you want to ask for help, the best place is probably Arduino Cape Town.

Makerspaces

There are a few makerspaces in the area:

  • Maker Station in Woodstock. Awesome place, and very much involved in the community
  • Workspace in the Harvest Centre, Hout Bay harbour
  • Cape Town FabLab at the CDI in Harrington Street Cape Town (Difficult to get in to?)

Makerspaces in other areas:

Electronics

Overseas:

  • Adafruit
  • Sparkfun
  • Dangerous Prototypes
  • Seeedstudio
  • Digikey
  • Mouser
  • Banggood
  • Aliexpress
  • ebay
  • Amazon

Circuit Boards

Overseas prototyping:

local:

Electrical

Tools

I’ll fill this out in future, but here’s a basic list:

  • Adendorff Machinery Mart in Montague Gardens for a wide selection of wood and metalworking tools
  • Communica (see electronics) for electronics related tools.
  • Vepac for electronics tools
  • Saftec in Milnerton for special electronics tools
  • Christensen Tools sells high quality tools and testing equipment
  • Cape Watch for precision tools (Jewellery grade, so probably expensive)
  • BJ Oberholzer Jewellery, watchmaking and crafting tools
  • Timber Tool in Maitland for woodworking tools
  • The electrical suppliers usually sell nice hand tools.
  • Hardware Centre for woodworking tools
  • Lee Valley has awesome hand tools. Expensive and overseas

3D printers, parts and filament

To be done.

3D printing services

I have no firsthand experience of any of these.

Higher-end worldwide services:

CNC Router machines and parts

CNC routing of sheet wood

Lasercutting (Wood, leather, plastic)

I have no firsthand experience of any of these.

Lasercutting (metal)

Worldwide:

Plastic

  • Maizey Plastics has sheet, block and rod plastic material
  • Duroplastic in Brackenfell for plastic sheeting
  • Google for ‘engineering plastics’ for other suppliers
  • Sign shops use lots of plastic sheeting, can get regular deliveries and might even sell some on to you directly. If you have a sign shop in your area, go ask.
  • Builders Warehouse now has plastic sheeting. Pricing is high, but in a pinch it can work.

Wood

I have no firsthand experience of any of these.

Metal

Steel:

Other (brass, copper, Aluminium):

Fabric and Leather

Casting and Composites

Magnets

Hardware

  • RS Components has a VERY big selection and good delivery times, but they are expensive (except I found Raspberry Pi there at a good price)
  • Essentra Components has plastic parts including screws, gears etc.
  • Experilab does plastic gears and interesting bits
  • Boltfast in Epping and Montague Gardens for bolts etc.
  • Bearing Man all over for bearings

Overseas:

Aluminium t-slot, v-slot and makerslides

R/C shops

Radio Control hobby shops are great for hobby servos, brushless motors and controls, small screws and fittings, and balsa/foam for project boxes.

Specific items

I’ve needed some very specific items before, here’s where I found them:

  • Lazy Susan bearing: Dawn Kitchen Fittings in Barlinka road, Saxenburg, Blackheath, had one back in 2013. Roco fittings is apparently a division of Dawn, so they might have. Google the address and links.
  • Skateboard Bearings: Literally any skateboard shop will have 608 size bearings, which are a nice size (22x7mm, with an 8mm hole)
  • Music shops have guitar strings (great as elements for hot wire cutters), and might have guitar string tensioners, which are good for all kinds of precision tensioning
  • Spectre/Dyneema UHMWPE fishing line (very strong, almost no stretch) can be found at good fishing shops.
  • Large bearing balls (25mm): Bearing Man Group is all over SA, I got these loose from their branch in Gants Park in Somerset West.
  • Wilec sells magnet wire in larger quantities, but so much cheaper that I’d rather buy 2kg from them than 100g from a hobby vendor (R425 for 2.2kg or 0.2mm magnet wire, 2017/10/17)
  • Eloff Transformers looks like they could be good for bulk coil winding.
  • Masque FX Warehouse in Gardens looks interesting (Special effects makeup and prosthetics)
  • Isoboard for insulation foam
  • Xanita in Blackheath makes really strong corrugated cardboad sheets. Nice stuff for displays etc.
  • Merrypak has cheap plastic ziplock bags, tins and assorted things useful for projects.
  • Baking/Catering supply stores are interesting. Some sell brown teflon sheets, which are awesome as project surfaces. No glue or paint will stick to it, and it can handle hot glue right on the sheet:

Scavenging and offcuts

Of course, scavenging parts is useful if you need items immediately. Electronics scavenging is mostly not worth it, but there are some interesting things you can get from old machinery.

A lot of maker projects don’t need a lot of material, so looking through the scrap bins at a local business could be useful.

  • Old hard drives have crazy strong magnets in them. I’ve used these as clamps, mounting points, etc. Computer shops might have some of those lying around.
  • Inkjet printers have great 8mm hard ground shafts, about 400mm long. I’ve walked into printer repair shops and walked out with enough broken printers to get shafts to build a 3D printer.
  • Network cable is a great source of long, thin twisted wire pairs for communications. Be aware that solid core wire might not handle repeated movement well.
  • Sign shops might have some scrap plastic sheeting
  • Metal laser shops often have lots of scrap.

Other interesting places:

  • SA Maker also has a page with links to local suppliers.
  • Dale also has lots of links.
  • Pajamas and Jam is a really nice coffee/antiques shop in a warehouse attached to a scrapyard in Gants Park, Somerset West. Lots of old tools, an anvil collection, and possibly some parts for antique/steampunk projects.
  • Truth Coffee in Buitenkant street in Cape Town is a feast for the eyes, and they have some pretty good coffee...