Last updated: 2023-09-16
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.
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. This is usually a long wait, but cheap and shipping costs are very low. There are some issues recently with importing: If you import more than a few (3) packages a year, you have to register as an importer.
- 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.
For shipping from overseas, it might be worth looking at a shipping consolidation service like Aramex Global Shopper.
If you want to ask for help, the best place is probably Arduino Cape Town.
Electronics guides, follow-along projects, 3D models etc:
or just Google around.
Makerspaces I found in SA:
- Stellenbosch University Makerspace in Stellenbosch (Only US students and faculty)
- UP Makerspace in Pretoria
- The Makerspace in Durban
- Werkspace in PE (Site broken since 2023-08-12)
- Splinters Workshop in Jhb (Woodwork, metalwork)
- Makers Village In Pretoria (site broken 2023-07-10)
I know of a few meetups in the area:
- Communica in Paarden Eiland has a full stock of Arduino and hobby based components. Their website gives you an idea of what’s available, but it is NOT complete. Phone them, the people are friendly and know their stuff. Their showroom is worth a visit just to see some of the range of things they have.
- Netram close to Century City has a lot of electronics and 3D printing stuff. Sometimes a bit disorganised, but they have some useful stuff.
- Micro Robotics in Technopark Stellenbosch
- DIY Electronics has a really nice range.
- Digital Droid
- There are some people on the Arduino Cape Town group who will sell you some components. I’ve dealt with Wesley Scott New before and can recommend it.
- Stelltron at Stellenbosch University
- RF Design in Montague Gardens specialise in rf and antennas
- Otto Wireless Solutions for rf
- Yebo Electronics in Bellville and Plumstead
- XT Comp
- DIY Geek has electronics and CNC parts
- Next Dimension for electronics and aluminium extrusion
- DIYTech in Monte Vista sells via bobshop (previously bidorbuy)
- Qualitel has some home automation things.
- Stock Electronics Does electronics and home automation.
- Battery Guys in Somerset West
- Leds4life in Somerset West has a WIDE range of LEDs
- Glolighting has some interesting lights, including LEDs
- Fidders in Stellenbosch might have some things, including interesting cables
- Digikey has an SA site and delivers here.
- Mouser also has an SA site.
- Dangerous Prototypes
- PCB Shopper lets you compare prices from lots of manufacturers
- OSH Park
- Dirty PCBs
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. (site broken 2023-05-28)
- Communica (see electronics) for electronics related tools.
- Bob C in Montague Gardens is apparently very friendly and well priced.
- 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
- Goldsmith & Jewellery Supplies in JHB, Pretoria and CT has jewellery tools, knifemaking steel and leather tools and supplies.
- Timber Tool in Maitland for woodworking tools
- Power Tool Services 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
- Toolcraft in Plumstead
- Microvolt Services in Montague Gardens apparently services and sells test equipment.
- Leroy Merlin has lots of DIY tools, including a good Kreg range.
3D printers, parts and filament
- 3D Printing Store in Centurion
- Da Vinci Lab in Westlake
- Filament Factory online
- Mr Filament
3D printing services
I have no firsthand experience of any of these.
- Look for a makerspace.
- Hubs list some 3D printing providers locally
- Rapid 3D for high-end printing
- 3D Printing House in Maitland
- Redcupvillage in Paarden Eiland
Higher-end worldwide services:
- Dirty SLA
- Fictiv for CNC and casting too
- Protolabs for fast prototyping
3D things to print
- Thingiverse is the biggest
- Printables from Prusa, some good models
- YouMagine Also a wide variety
- Yeggi has some good printable models
- GrabCAD lots of mechanical designs, not so much printable.
- Sketchfab has more VR/AR stuff, but some printable models.
- STLFinder seems to be a meta search over all stl repos
CNC Router machines and parts
- See the Aluminium Extrusion section for parts.
- CNC Direct
CNC routing of sheet wood
- Look for a makerspace.
- Cape Lasercut
- Purple Puppy
- The Laser Lady
- Perfect Laser sells lasercutters etc.
- Fabrinox in Paarl for stainless steel (full disclosure, I know people there)
- Schuurman Laser
- TFD Manufacturing in Somerset West
- 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.
I have no firsthand experience of any of these.
- Rare Woods in Epping (go look at the online wood browser, and they have some really interesting varieties)
- Ticktin timbers in Woodstock (Nice, smaller selection than Rarewoods, I think)
- Baltic Timber in Woodstock
- Country Woods used to be in Montague Gardens, maybe only Gauteng now.
- ITM in Gants Park in Somerset West for timber, boards and veneers
- Somerset Timbers for building timber, but also plywood
- Get Cork sells cork sheeting
- Veneercraft sells veneers in Paarden Eiland
- Finewoods for veneers
- M&A Timbers in Stikland for timber at good pricing
- Davidsons Boards sells birch plywood as well as other boards
- Donsteel for mild steel
- Macsteel for larger orders of steel and stainless
- EMV Africa
- Brackenfell Steel
- Crawfords Steel in Gants Park Somerset West
Other (brass, copper, Aluminium):
Fabric and Leather
- The Fabric Centre in Somerset West
- SA Canvas in Maitland for canvas
- Kehl’s in Maitland for upholstery
- Woodheads in Caledon Street, Cape Town for leather
- Leatherite in Pretoria for leather
- Goldsmith & Jewellery Supplies (see tools section) sells leather
Casting and Composites
- AMT Composites in Maitland for casting resins and materials
- Speedivac for vacuum degassing pumps and systems
- 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. (Site broken since 2023-09-16)
- Fastenright in Goodwood specialises in stainless.
- WP Fasteners in Johannesburg specialises in heatset inserts, rivnuts, etc.
- Boltfast in Epping and Montague Gardens for bolts etc.
- Topfast in Paarden Eiland for fasteners
- Bearing Man all over for bearings
- Apple Tool and Gas in Gants park has a great hardware and fastener selection.
Aluminium t-slot, v-slot and makerslides
- Openbuilds is a great source of inspiration of stuff to build with aluminium extrusions.
- Makerslide does 20mm makerslide and v-slot
- HobbyTronics extrusion is well priced for t-slot in 20mm
- Stelltron in Stellenbosch has makerbeam (10mm x 10mm)
- Horne Technologies has several kinds of prototyping beam. Affiliated with Stelltron?
- 3D Printing Store has multiple types of v-slot profiles. See 3D printing section.
- Modular Assembly SA has some good pricing and nice online shop
- Item 24
- DIY Geek has extrusions
Radio Control hobby shops are great for hobby servos, brushless motors and controls, small screws and fittings, and balsa/foam for project boxes.
- Micton Hobbies is a nice one in Somerset West
- Clowns Hobbies in Bellville is great.
- Flying Robot for drones
- Goblin Hobbies
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.
- Half-silvered glass for infinity mirrors: Go to car window tinting places. They have a silvered plastic film that you can mount on glass.
- 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:
- Munaaz Catering Equipment in Woodstock (Site down, look for them on Google)
- The Baking Tin in Ottery
- Cab Foods has outlets all over, including in Somerset West, Brackenfell and Worcester.
- Comet Aviation Supplies for aviation items and good stainless steel wire.
- Palram for Palfoam foamed PVC, interesting lightweight sheet material
- Silica Gel SA does silica gel dessicants, if you have need for something like that.
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:
- Wikipedia’s list of manufacturing processes gives an overview of ways to manufacture things.
- 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…