Our first stop on the Global Geek Tour of India is Mumbai. Originally we weren’t going to tour Mumbai, but some scheduling issues left us there for an extra day. This gave us this amazing opportunity to visit Manish and Lamington Road electronics markets in Mumbai.
We started our Mubai adventure at the picturesque Mumbai Bay where we met up with locals Murli, Anool, and Yagnesh. From there we hoped on a taxi and headed straight to Manish market.
A full write up is below, catch the video here.
Manish market has components for repairing consumer electronics, especially mobile phones. Components ranging from tiny buttons to replacement LCDs can be found here. There’s also a ton of small services, like copying SD cards, that we haven’t seen in markets before.
Since the mass production of consumer electronics drives the cost of components down, Yagnesh designs his projects around these inexpensive parts.
One has to be there to experience it, but probably the best explanation of Manish market is a flea-market specializing in cell phone parts. It’s a huge area with a large number of small stalls bursting with components, and repair stations.
At least four guys repairing cell phones in a hallway. Anywhere you look you’ll see someone hunched over a cell phone, busy with a hot air tool or soldering iron.
Touch screens are available all over, but this stand has a nice display of example connectors and part numbers. This makes it a lot easier to find documentation on them and abuse them beyond the intended purpose.
Fake stuff was available more openly than we’ve seen anywhere. Phones, games, and flash drives were the biggies.
This stands sells Nintendo and Super Nintendo system and games clones. It’s current production 8 and 16 bit game hardware built locally in India. Cartridges hold collections of 7 to 20 games, including big names like Mario. We wanted to see the internals, so we bought two cartridges for 2 bucks (100 rupees) and popped them open. Inside is a small circuit board with a single potted chip. The PCB is dated 2011/03/29, quite a recent design.
At a roadside stand we tried to buy a fake flash drive that appears as a big drive, but just rewrites the same small disk space. The kid didn’t have one on hand, but his friend ran off to get one. Moments later he came back with a 32 gig flash disk for 2 buck (100 rupees). Inside we were disappointed to find not a sophisticated fake, but just a recycled USB connector jammed into a warped plastic case.
On the other side of downtown Mumbai is Lamington Road, an electronics wholesale market. Shops sell full reels and bulk parts, but most also sell small quantities. LEDs, solar panels, connectors, surface mount and through-hole parts, are all sold in the area. Some shops specialize in selling scavenged electro-mechanical parts like stepper motors.
The oldest part of Lamington Road market is lined with electronics shops on both sides of a dusty street. There’s no mistaking the reels of surface mount components in the shop windows or solar panels sitting along the road. In terms of market goodness, Lamington Road is more densely packed with resources than any market we’ve visited outside Shenzhen.
Two shops specialize in scavenging stepper and servo motors from local electronics dumps. Motors are recycled mostly from old printers, but smaller micro-motors are often pulled from cameras. Despite being salvaged, parts are properly labeled and usually at least 10 of each motor is available.
As always these kind of markets are a great opportunity to hold, test, and experience connectors and buttons. We think it’s really hard to order these in catalogs because you can’t fully appreciate the part until you hold it. This joystick switch with push button came from a shop advertising a “Wide Variety of Switches”. Indeed!
Mumbai’s markets are impressive. Dare we say some of the best stocked and most accessible to everyone, including students and hobbyists. Even long time local residents were surprised at the extent of the parts available at the lesser-known Manish cell phone repair market. If you can survive the traffic, they’re definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Mumbai.
Join us next Thursday for our trip to Bangalore. We meet up with 20 readers in a trademark-free cartoon mystery solving bus, and visit markets, factories, and open hardware shops. After that we go south to Kochi for our final stop at RhydoLABZ, “the SparkFun of India”.