Global Geek Shenzhen: SEG Market mega post

SEG market is the best known electronic part market in Hua Qiang Bei neighborhood. It’s two giant floors of component and tool stands. The upper floors are full of computer parts and consumer electronics, also very cool, but we’re here for the electronics.

This is an overview of the second floor of SEG Market. It’s not as crowded and narrow as the 1st floor. Check the ultimate stop on our Global Geek Tour below the break.

Small glass display cases with sample components line each isle of the market floor. If you ask to see a component the shop owner slides open the top and pulls it out. Sample quantities are usually available for immediate sale, but larger quantities of many things are couriered from somewhere nearby in 5-10 minutes.

Stands represent distributors or factories. There’s lots of stands with the exact same thing, either from competing manufacturers or distributors. Parts like switches, pin headers, coin cell holders, pogo pins, programming adapters, and LEDs are all sold like this.

Stands with wire piles do custom cable assembly. The stand on the right is numbered 2368. Each stand has a business card with its number to help you find it again.

Each stand has a card. Take the card and write down the price of stuff you like. Use the stand number printed on the card to find your way back later.This stand has bundles of cold cathode tubes.

Tully, one of our guides, said it was more important to build a relationship than bargain. Once you have a relationship the price is the same for 1 or 1000. This in mind, on the second day we also gaveĀ our card, which was accepted graciously by everyone.

Breakout boards for potted chips. These are the kind of low cost chips you see in calculators and watches, they bond directly to the PCB. This stand has breakouts for several dozen.

The ultimate selection of programming adapters. SOIC, SSOP, QFP, QFN, even 10×10 ball grid arrays! Unfortunately nobody was there to give us prices.

You need magnets? We got 1000 for about two bucks.

This shop was well equipped with all kind of programmers and development boards. Notice the number – 2860 – this is printed on the business card too so you can find it again.

Part displays get creative. Most stands are run by salespeople, not engineers.

Despite the six floor market dedicated to LEDs across the street, SEG Market also has all kinds of LED and LED sign shops.

A stand with two dozen different microscopes. We bought the USB version of this scope. Look for a review later today.

Checking out a photography light box. The SEG price was half of the Hong Kong price, and exactly the same as on TaoBao (the Chinese eBay).

On the 3rd and up to the 10th floor there were more shops, but unfortunately no more component shops, only consumer electronics stores. Prices on components beat anywhere else, but a lot of the consumer electronics are more expensive than in the US.

Lets move on to the next component market!

What SEG Market looks like from the outside.

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  1. ide love to have those EXTRA LARGE 7segments!

    what are the magnets for? are they the super strong magnets that you use for harddrives? im thinking of using one of those as a metal detector of somekind what ya think?

    1. These are raw products, you can use them for all sorts of things, like fridge magnets, magnetic sensors, those boxes with magnetic closings.

      They are quiet strong btw :)

  2. Lovely stuff,

    It just saddens me that, with the decline of DIY electronics tinkering in the West, soon a Shenzhen junior highschool kid will wire up a simple digital clock or thermometer much faster than you can complete your order for the same on dealextreme.

    I truly hate to make yet another eloi / morlock reference, but it sure is worth thinking about what is going to happen to next generations in East & West.

  3. Even the Morlocks must have had some tech kids – somebody had to keep that siren going! ;)

  4. most of the things at SEG and surrounding areas are just recycled junk parts.
    Careful what you buy there. You can not imagine what u can get in China.
    There is a whole industry devoted to recycling electronic part that are sold
    as brand new. Parts that already have failed and have thermal problems,
    even cables that do not conduct, anything is resold as new. They even take
    smt resistors or caps off the pcbs and by hand place them in the carrier rolls
    to sell them later as new products. I used to buy components there until the day
    that I had enough of the failures. It is just a junk market with lots of fake products.
    No serious person ever will use that junk for any productions.
    The poor westerners that think they get a good deal on a mobile phone or tablet there.
    These are all recycled rejects. They might work a few days and than fail. Batteries that are
    not up to standards, at best they will not hold the charge long, at worst your device will go up in flames.
    Used phones fitted with new housings look brand new and boxes for them are available everywhere.
    Tablets, another big problem. Just open them and look at the PCB and you will see how many times
    and in how many areas they were repaired. The screens do not last long and will show black lines across.
    These markets are mostly for products that were rejected from some more serious factories.
    For example a shipment of Screens had too many faults . The screens perhaps are send back to the screen factory and sold as rejects to some other dealers. At the end you will find them in markets like the one there.
    Don’t ever think that there is any product there that is up to the standards as we know it. Just look how they handle static sensitive chips. There is no grounding, anti static mats or workplaces.
    You buy some sd card that was already exposed to 1000s of volts. And than there is the cheat with the capacity of storage media such as hd, sd etc. In reality you never will be able to load the amount of data on there that it states. All is fake. They make you out of 8 GB 128 GB and laugh at you after you pay and leave.
    I am in this Chinese game since 20 years and I have seen almost everything here. You can even buy magnetic 316 stainless steel ! They tried once to pull that on me.

    The big western problem is that they all believe they find the same quality, business conduct , warranty etc like in their home countries. No so as history teaches. Chinese are not interested in long term business . In most cultures and countries you would be glad to sell and serve your client for the long term, here in China that has no meaning. Cash today is better than tomorrow and if you do not like it, just leave. There are 1.3 Chinese consumers and they do not need you.
    I always compare that with a hot dog cart at the street corner. In the western culture, of course you want your hot dog to be the best and most delicious ones to bring your customer back . Here they do not care. If you do not like the hot dog, tough luck. There are probably 10 0000 other people walking along the cart that day and surely others will buy a hot dog. It is just a number game. 1.3 billion people, no one cares about one happy customer. Let them all be unhappy and every day there will be plenty of new customers coming. Why should they care.


    1. I’ve been taking a bunch of old PCBs home from work which is mostly telecom equipment that would otherwise have gone to recycling. Most of the components I reuse work remarkably well, even small caps, resistors and even LEDs.
      You just need to be aware that some things might be broken. On the one hand this might be annoying if things don’t work as expected but you gain a lot of debugging skills and actually understand why some components might be necessary instead of just building a circuit from a reference design without understanding what all the things actually do.

    2. Yikes. I agree that there’s tons of junk in Huaqiangbei, for example Bunnie found resold power adapters for his Chumby project there, but I disagree with the general impressions of the traders.

      Huaqiangbei is a wholesale market representing tons of major producers and resellers. Sure if you buy one screen or one power adapter it might be recycled crap and you have no relationship with the seller. However if you’re buying 10000 of something you stand a better chance and you build a relationship. I live a 5minute walk from the market and use it daily in my own projects. I have relationships with several vendors both that I was introduced to by friends, as well as people I cultivated a relationship with on my own.

      The problem I see with western electronics tourists is that many expect to bargain a rock bottom price on a single reel, or a single whatever widget. The prices here are already rock bottom and if you want only one or two you get the crap laying around. If you buy MOQ then you get a sealed bag fresh from the factory. The market is not interested or motivated to sell onsies to individuals, it’s a waste of their time.

      Stuff like connectors, custom made cables, headers, custom turned screws, etc. That’s the stuff I buy in HQB and it’s never recycled old crap, it’s brand new and up to western standards.

      Its important to speak some Chinese, or better yet a little Hokkien (Fujian hua). If you can say hello, please, and thank you in Hokkien you’ll never pay for samples, simple services, or get messed with. I’ve made connections in the market by playing shaizi and drinking beer on the street with kids that work in the market. They’re like family now and will bend over backwards to help with whatever odd and totally unprofitable request I have.

      I build all my workstations with stuff from SEG 5th and 6th floor and have never had an issue. It’s a little dodgy looking, and the prices are usually MORE than in the US due to taxes. If you’re getting an unbeatable deal it’s probably crap, but that’s true anywhere. If you want cheaper and equally reliable I’d run to a golden market in Hong Kong and grab a taco on the way back to SZ :)

      Just thought this deserved another impression. I quite like the Chinese, love living here, and have had no bad experiences in the market. Now the used office furniture gypsies…don’t get me started!

      1. Ian, how do u do? may I have your email? I’m coming to Shenzhen this December and need someone to guide me through the market. I need major suppliers. Cheers!

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