Bangalore was the big event on our Global Geek Tour of India. We check out the SP Road parts market, visit open hardware shops, and drop by a PCB assembly house.
We start out at the Jaaga co-work center in central Bangalore, and meet up with 20 readers and forum members. Start-up companies and the Bangalore hackerspace share this space, which was built from pallet racks, shelves, and recycled materials. Most of the material came from billboards, whose long forgotten marketing messages can still be seen on Jaaga’s walls.
Trademark free cartoon mystery solving bus
In Bangalore we had lots of places to visit, and loads of people to move around, so we hired this crazy bus. The drivers were completely incompetent and refused to look at a GPS, but we managed to get everywhere eventually. It gets a 10 for perfect “pirate bus” though, that’s for sure!
We pile into the wacky van and head to SP Road, Bangalore’s electronics wholesale market. Usually the market is packed with people, but the day of our visit was a holiday so it was a bit quieter. Fortunately it gave us the opportunity to observe the Ayudha Puja customary blessing of many pieces of machinery.
SP Road has loads of component shops where you can find anything from reels of surface mount parts to open hardware from SparkFun, Arduino, and Seeed Studio. Our first stop was Vishal Electronics shop, the largest hobbyist electronics store at SP Road. Most of the stuff is on display, so it’s easy to pick out exactly what you need. They also provide services like cable crimping and assembly, which Sayan used to get a few custom debugging connector cables.
Across the street where we found Seeed Studio’s Seeeduino on sale. This shop also gives demos on how to use it, making it more accessible to newcomers in electronics.
Next we took a tour of NSK Electronics, they design and sell educational development boards. They are considered the largest development board shop in SP Road. In the assembly room we got to see how their stuff is put together. Everything, including the surface mount parts, are soldered by hand.
Heading out of NSK we spot Advance Micro Components, a shop bursting with reels upon reels of components. Although the selection of SMD passives is impressive, this shop mostly specializes in sourcing discontinued and rare products like vacuum tubes. Sorry, no nixies were spotted.
We dropped in on Tenent Technetronics during their 5 year anniversary party. In the next year they hope to sell 35,000 boards. They distribute most big open hardware brands like Beagle Board, Arduino, and Raspberry Pie throughout India. They look forward to opening offices around India and in the United States in the next year.
Like many distributors we talked to, import duties imposed on hardware are strong incentive to manufacture boards locally. They currently sell in-house versions of locally manufactured open hardware projects like Arduino and IOIO.
protoCentral is another open source hardware design shop we visited in Bangalore. They started out doing work for India’s military, building sensors and wireless gear. After using open hardware for some years himself, Ashwin decided to start distributing open hardware from SparkFun, Seeed Studio, and Arduino a few months ago. They are just now branching out into their own products.
Their primary aim is to create new hardware such as open source tools for students and engineers. They find that the current hardware is too expensive. and out of reach of students. They’d like to create an open source chemical sensor within the price range students.
protoCentral arranged a tour of their PCB assembly place, Cerbera Tech. First the soldering stencils and PCBs are loaded into an auto soldering paste spreader. Next passive parts are added by a pick and place, then a second pick and place finishes the job by placing all the chips. Stuffed boards go into a 7 zone oven, and then onto final inspection.
We’re glad to see open hardware so popular in Bangalore, this leg of the trip was epic! You can check out the video version of our Bangalore tour here.
A huge thanks to everyone who joined us on the tour. A huge thanks to everyone who hosted us including electronics shops of SP Road, protoCentral, NSK Electronics, Tenent Technetronics, and Cerbera Tech.
Next week we head south to Kochi to visit India’s largest open hardware manufacturer rhydoLABZ.