We’ve scarcely been back for 3 hours, but already Sjaak and Ian are in IRC unboxing their toys from Hua Qiang Bei. First, the big lesson we learned. For years we’ve heard about SEG Market and the component shops, but it’s actually part of a whole neighborhood of electronics distributor complexes much like Akihabara or Cheonggyecheon. The neighborhood is called Hua Qiang Bei (ho-wa chong bay), and the famed SEG Market is actually one of the smallest of maybe 10 buildings of parts distributors. More about this in our photos and videos next week. Now – goodies!
First up is our major purchase; a new light box. We’ve always used a cheap light tent with a couple external halogen spots. It’s better than nothing, but there’s no room for it in the new studio workshop and it’s impossible to take straight-down pictures. We’ve been on the prowl for an integrated light box for a few months, but most of them cost a fortune.
We first spotted an acrylic HAD-brand light box in Hong Kong. It’s got integrated 5500K color-temperature cold cathode tubes and LEDs. Pictures can be taken from the front, or from the built-in mount in the top. When we saw the whole product line direct from the manufacturer in SEG Market we know it was meant to be.
Bigger is usually better, so we got the biggest one we could pack. It took an hour for the factory to deliver one to SEG, and we used that time to search the nearest knock-off clothing market looking for a giant (not knock-off) bag to get it home in. $15 bag in hand, we picked it up an hour later for around $200.
Overall it’s perfect for the workshop, and test pictures look great. We will need to modify the overhead holder before it works perfectly with our camera. It also comes with two extra LED “spot lights” that seem mostly useless. These blue and green LEDs plug into two sockets, but don’t seem bright enough to do anything in practice.
Continue below for more of Ian’s scores, including LEDs, USB microscopes, digital calipers, tweezers, flux, and more. The great thing about all this stuff is we have the distributor info and 100 piece cost, we can probably get any popular stuff on sale in the Seeed Studio store.
Like every electronics market, reels of LEDs are everywhere. This is a waterproof 5 meter reel of RGB LEDs with adhesive backing that cost about $15. A control module and remote control were another $3.50 and have 16 preset colors and 4 animation settings.
For some DIY flux experiments we got a handful of solid rosin blocks. The slogan is fantastic: “welcome to use the rosin of HDB”. These were about $0.20 each, and we’ll be giving a few away soon on the blog.
Some made-in-the-USA flux from AMTECH, via China for about $1. We’ll compare this to the rest of our collection.
We didn’t see any of the famed clone holographic stickers for major brand names, but we did spot several stands with an array of stickers. Most were the typical quality control, RoHS, and other stickers used in electronics manufacturing. These looked especially cool so we bought a sheet for around $1. The white band in the middle scratches off to reveal a unique serial number…of some sort.
Tweezers of all different shapes, $0.40 each. They say “Made in Flukes”, whatever that means. It seems likely they are locally produced due Chinese on the packaging. We’ll also give these away on the blog soon.
Digital calipers are something we’ve always wanted, but never needed. This all-meal pair with a decent quality case was $23. We got an extra pair for Sjaak as a thank you for all his help at the Maker Faire. We can also get them in 100 lots too, but the price only goes down $0.80 cents. Maybe better calipers can be had for cheaper, but hands-on time with these in the market convinced us they were worth twenty-bucks.
This little USB microscope was available for a live demo, and we immediately fell in love. The tip is illuminated with white LEDs, and the zoom is controlled by turning the dial around the top of the scope.
It comes with a stand, and English software for Windows (XP and 7/64bit). Sjaak reports it also works on Linux. For $45 it was an irresistible buy, though the retention screw on this one broke almost immediately. No problem, we found a replacement. Image examples and more later.
A stand specializing in eBay packaging gave us a free sample. The smallest size would be perfect for mailing free PCBs.
Notice that this one is pre-marked “gift”. We also saw some marked gift with “electronics parts” and “$10” already printed. A great time saver for Chinese eBay parts sellers, for sure.
An electroluminescent display that reacts to sound, something fun to hang in the workshop. List price was $28, we got it for $15.
We didn’t bargain much or get exceptional prices, it was just fun to go and play with all the great toys. Prices were usually as good or better than eBay, cheap data SIMs make it easy to compare with eBay from a phone.
Next up, Sjaak’s Hua Qiang Bei score. Join us next week for a full week of videos and pictures from the markets, Maker Faire China, and Seeed Studio’s office.