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A visit to the Hua Qiang Bei electronics market

March 11, 2012

On Monday we made an excursion via subway to the Hua Qiang Bei electronics market across town.  Those from Boulder should imagine McGucken Hardware — then make it about four times the size — then make it six stories — then fill a city block with buildings like that — then fill ten city blocks that way.  That’s Hua Qiang Bei.  Reportedly the largest electronics market in the world.

The innards of the store are comprised of thousands of tiny stalls maybe, on average six feet square.  The tiny space will be filled with gazillions of single type of component.  One lady will be selling nothing but inductors next to more LEDs than you can count.  And there is a bunch of manufacturing (mostly soldering) going on right at the counter. Here’s Blair and Lias checking out a vendor who sold nothing but electronics boxes.

The level of geek-dom scales inversely proportional to the floor.  At the bottom are the truly geeked out components — resistors, LEDs, capacitors and so on.  Finally at the top level are complete computer mother boards.  The lady in the top photo sold nothing but magnets for electric motors.

I spent most of my time on the bottom searching out stuff that we need for the bike.  I found weather tight (IP67 designation if that term has any meaning to you) push button switches for our dashboard for fifty cents each.  We pay ten bucks for them at home.  Are they really IP67?  Do they even work?  Who the heck knows.  I probably won’t end up using them in an actual product, but I’ll put them to a test.

Here Gao is helping me buy a soldering station for $25.  Since everything is so cheap I told them to add 10 soldering tips but the vendor warned me that they cost $2 each.  Why so much?  They’re made in Japan (so I cut back the order to 5).

Needless to say we all had a rip snortin’ good time and made plans to come back soon.

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