Let’s say you want to buy some 10 pin connectors to connect your boards together, it should be pretty easy to buy them, right? Sure! Just go to Sparkfun and spend $1.50 for a 40 pin female header and another $1.50 for a 40 pin male header. Wow, that’s expensive.
The trick to navigating Digikey or Mouser, is being able to select the right terms that get you to what you actually want, and sometimes that is trial and error. Let’s look at Mouser. Looking at the link itself, I had to go to Interconnects -> Rectangular Connectors -> Headers wire housings, then selecting male. From there, I could then look for the actual specifications for the part I want (cheap, 2.54 mm pitch, 1 row).
Many times I get a little frustrated trying to navigate the menus, but it is usually always worth it, in $, to do so. In this case, I found the best prices at DipMicro.com, $0.33 for each (since I’m buying 100, the price is $0.15). They had the best prices for the female connectors as well. But they lacked quite a few parts, so I will still have to order at Mouser, but I think I’ll save money by ordering from both places, rather than getting it all from Mouser.
Learning how to navigate vendors like Digikey, Mouser, Newark, and ebay can help you save lots of money versus buying parts at specialty places like Sparkfun or Pololu. In this case, I can buy 5 headers from DipMicro versus 1 from SparkFun. Wowza!
As a sidenote, I’m buying a non-latching shift register to see if I can reduce the pins needed to drive an LCD to two, using the Shift LCD library! I’m thinking of picking up a PS2 connector, as well as a NunChuck adapter, to make things nicer, even though they will probably cost more than an entire MCU + Wireless + Case combo…