Global Geek Tour: Sjaak’s score from Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China

in Global Geek by DP | 14 comments

This is a little grab of some of the things Sjaak came home with from our Global Geek Tour of China this week.

This pile has 5 little breadboard, 5 LCD/OLED breakout boards for plastic ribbon FPC connectors, 2 shiny LiPo batteries with a capacity of 800mAh, and a spool of black thin wire. We like to use the 0.10mm lacked copper wire to repair our PCBs, we think it’s more robust and visible than other wires. We can’t remember the cost, but it seem like a bargain at the time.

More of Sjaak’s treasures below the break.

Sjaak bought some AMTECH flux made in the USA, but also a ‘Made in China’ AMTECH flux. The price for 10 tubes of the Made in China version was about the same as 10cc of the real deal: 20RMB ($3).

Note the green one has a hologram and an expiry date of 5/2012, and the ‘China’ brand doesn’t have an expiry date at all!

Here’s the same rosin Ian got, this time showing the rosin block itself. We saw this one used in the solder class Seeed organized at the Maker Faire in Shenzhen. Forum regular Arhi used this to make his own liquid flux. It cost about 2RMB ($0.20)

In Hong Kong we visited Apliu street, which is the Hong Kong version of Hua Qiang Bei in Shenzhen. We bought several Japanese made soldering tools, like this tin of solder paste. We’ll post more about Apliu Street later, and also bring you an update to the battle of fluxes and a giveaway.

After endless soldering of prototypes the tips of our soldering iron looks like a black charcoal pencil. We snapped up several of these soldering iron “Tip Refreshers” to see if they bring new life. Stay tuned for a video: will they resurrect a dead iron or leave us wanting?

A bit back we featured a video about drag soldering and found out about a special tip that can make it even easier. Of course we wanted to try it for ourselves, so we scooped some up at SEG Market. We would have tried the dirt cheap clones (5RMB/$1.50), but they were out of stock so we got the real deal for 20RMB ($3). If we could stay for a few more days who knows what we would have returned with…

Across the street from the SEG Market was a six-floor building with nothing but LEDs and accessories. We found some cheap 10 watt RGB LEDs for 170RMB ($25). Little did we know how cheap they were until we got home and some of the red LEDs fail to light. In the end 7 assemblies worked, and 3 lacked the RED LED.

Sjaak really likes tiny LCDs, and he found paradise in Shenzhen. The little one on the right was 25RMB ($3.50) and looks serially addressable. The other was 35RMB ($5) and appears to have a parallel interface. We got 5 of both. The part numbers are TS8007WFKJ and TS8015U.

What are LCDs without user input? It was hard to find a small touchscreen for the two previous LCDs, but this is a nice alternative. In Shenzhen most shops have a display with a sample of each item they carry. You have the opportunity to hold and play with the samples and then ask for the price. We actually liked this one, and its price, so we bought 10 of them. Unfortunately they didn’t have it in the booth, so they called someone to get them from a nearby location. The buttons arrived just 10 minutes later…beat that Mouser and Digikey! Price was about a few RMB a piece.

For some time we’ve had an itch to get rid of the standard, but rather large, ICSP connector we use for our PIC projects. We’d like to move to a smaller footprint which would save room for more interesting features. Usually we ship all out products with a USB connector and bootloader, so the need for a large ICSP connection is reduced. Feel free to share your thoughts about it in the forum.

This pogo pin is not as tall as the common one on sale at SparkFun or Mdfly. The non-pogo  end is similar to a regular PTH pin, and can be soldered to a PCB. The price was 60RMB ($8.50) for 100.

We found an interesting ARM11 development board (translation) at one of the SEG Market booths. The lady selling it gave us a nice lesson in bargaining, so we returned the favor and bought the development platform. It comes with all the needed cables, and software on two DVDs. It seems to run a wide range of OS’s including Android and Qt. Cost, just 620RMB ($88.00)

Next up we have a short preview of our videos that will premier every day next week. Don’t forget to join us for our Global Geek Tour of China. We’ll have videos, pictures, and lots of great stuff to give away.

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Comments

  1. nato says:

    Would *love* to hear about your lesson in bargaining! ???

    • Kevin says:

      I wonder if it went like this:

      Ian: How much for this?

      lady: 621RMB

      Ian: I’ll give you 320RMB

      lady: 621RMB

      Ian: How about 420RMB?

      lady: 621RMB

      Ian: How about 520RMB?

      lady: 620RMB

      Ian: She came down… I better take it.

      Something like that? :D

      • Ian says:

        You’ll have to ask Sjaak about his lesson. I took the advise of Tully, one of our guides, and focused on relationships. I only bargained twice, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort for a 10-15% discount. That said, I did have a few tricks up my sleeve:

        1. Take the distributor’s card. Smile really really big.
        2. Ask the 100s or 1000s price (usually using my pocket calculator to communicate) and they will show it on their calculator
        3. Write the price on the card
        4. Use your own calculator and divide by 6.3 to find the USD price. Make sure the typing is visible.
        5. Hand over your own card
        6. Ask the 1s sample price. Write it on the card, buy if you want it
        The goal is to get closer to actual bulk cost, instead of the foreign market tourist price.

        Another way I found to get closer to the market price was to carry a list, and show the distributor that you had already bought these items in 1s or 100s. Then ask for their price if you had bought from them. It was generally 50% cheaper than my first purchase. For example I got 100 x 10K potentiometers for 0.25 RMB. At the next stop I showed my list and the previous purchase, they offered them at 0.1 RMB right off, no bargaining needed.

        I also felt like things went better when we starting carrying bags of purchases. It was more obvious we were buying.

        You can try typical stuff like “walk away”, but this is for distributors and they aren’t going to chase after a 1 piece sale.

    • Sjaak says:

      I was not as excited as it looks, but she needed a mention and i like the arm board.

      She just told us the real price (her price) and then we cried. See Ian’s reply about the variable resitors.

      • Kevin says:

        I am not really good at haggling… I can’t stand the game so I would be terrible there. Great info, on how to get around it, though.

  2. JBeale says:

    >dirt cheap clones (5RMB/$1.50), the real deal for 20RMB ($3)
    Interesting, so there is a non-linear currency exchange factor? :-)

    • Ian says:

      Sorry about that :) There’s bound to be a few errors, we just stepped off a 15 hour flight and immediately wrote these posts :D

  3. ben choy says:

    The trouble with buying things in SZ are:
    1) u don’t if the thing works stall until y get home
    2) and almost most of the time the seller hasn’t got a clue on what they r selling (but u can have them cheap!)

    • Ian says:

      Everyone I talked to agreed with point 2, they are just salesmen, not engineers.

      However, the best distributors, the ones I’ll go back to later, all tested stuff before selling it to me. High power LEDs, LED reels, the USB microscope, calipers, etc. If it could easily be tested, they showed me that each part was working.

  4. arhi says:

    You got the smelly amtech flux … naaaaaaaaaasty … now you will know why I thrown it away

    • Sjaak says:

      the ‘china’ one or the other?

      • arhi says:

        I had tube of PRC amtech flux and what was supposed to be original amtech flux (purchased in USA from amtech reseller) – they both smell terrible .. please share your experience with it .. maybe I’m just too sensitive to this smell.. They both work perfectly (prc and original), only smell terrible

      • eff zog says:

        Even ‘ the other ‘ is fake I bet. Carefully check the label with real tube from U.S. People have reported there are mistakes in the label/appearance.

  5. Marvin S. says:

    Again, this would be quite cool for our hackerspace :D

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