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Please post in this forum any resources you know of related to companies that sell electronics, mechanics, optics, software, development tools, etc. that are helpful in building prototypes.

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Robotics:

Parallax, Inc.
www.parallax.com

Excellent source of components for robotics and any microprocessor controlled project. They feature a number of microprocessors, including the Parallax Propeller, along with excellent software development design tools. Also, a wide variety of sensors, controls and development boards. Their prices are amazingly low and their quality equally amazingly high.
3D printing for rapid prototypes:
RAPID Technology LLC Rapid prototyping of user interfaces for desktop, web & mobile apps:
Ikayzo
Disclosure: This is our company. Russ Ogi gave us a tour of Rapid last year. Its amazing how they can do 3D printing of materials that are metallic, plastic or rubbery using different infiltrates. They can even print machines with moving parts fully assembled! Example:
I've used Rapid Tech and I am very happy with them. ken
Daniel Leuck said:
3D printing for rapid prototypes:
RAPID Technology LLC

Rapid prototyping of user interfaces for desktop, web & mobile apps: Ikayzo
Disclosure: This is our company.


Russ Ogi gave us a tour of Rapid last year. Its amazing how they can do 3D printing of materials that are metallic, plastic or rubbery using different infiltrates. They can even print machines with moving parts fully assembled!

Example:

Places to buy prototyping materials or fun toys?? :-) Could be a long list. Itʻs a big universe out there. It might be easier to just post what someone is shopping for..

Hereʻre a few places to look...

Machining things: www.sherline.com makes a nice set of both manual and CNC capable mills and lathes. So do a lot of other folks - Prazi, Taigtools.com... Romaxxcnc.com makes a couple of great little CNC routers. WMberg.com has a wonderful collection of mechanical stuff ( gears, pulleys ). Iʻve lost track of how many things Iʻve built with aluminum extrusions from 8020.net.( They also cut to length.) Of course, there are thousands of on-line shops like emachineshop.com.

Electronics - ExpressPCB.com is a painless way to make 1-10 PCBs quickly and they provide the software. But lots of companies have quick turn PCB manufacture. Unfortunately, part sizes being what they are now, stuffing your own PCBs is a little challenging.

Digikey.com is a great place to buy all sorts of commercial electronic parts, along with LEDs, imagers, etc... But thereʻs also Mouser.com, Newark.com, Futureelectronics.com ( LEDs ), Allied.com. Just depends on what youʻre shopping for..

Most electronic manufacturers have always been glad to send me free samples of whatever.. Though now, many have on-line stores for one or two parts. But I miss the vendors dropping by the lab to say hi and leave toys.

After years of just rolling yet another PCB for a project, Iʻve been using Arduino.cc lately for general purpose development. Open source software with thousands of contributors. Open source hardware so there are hundreds of players there too. Itʻs based on the Atmel mega 328 and costs between $25 and $30 loaded. You can get them from folks like Lady Ada ( adafruit.com ) or Sparkfun.com. Adafruit and Sparkfun also have other interesting things to play with ( sensors on boards,etc.. )

Dealextreme.com - inexpensive gadgets and parts from China. Need a 50 watt LED ( 3000 - 400 lumen )? Probably seconds but itʻs fun to browse.

Iʻve also enjoyed Microchip.com dev kits for years. Browse their parts, pick out your chip and
ask for the dev kit.. Their application notes library is huge...

I should point out again.. Most component manufacturers love to give away free samples and the tools to use them. If you can justify it to the vendor, theyʻre happy to oblige with whatever it takes to get their chip into your product. Of course, they expect to sell you a few million later. But sometimes that happens.

Optical components: edmundoptics.com, Newport optical, CVI Melles Griot

Thorlabs.com for more laser oriented optical components as well as laser diodes, controllers,etc... Wavelength Electronics for laser diode power supplies/ thermal controllers.

Iʻve bought some amazing, intensely specialized and expensive things on Ebay.( Like most of my Newport optical positioners, wavelength specific mirrors, a magneto-optic isolator, fusion splicer ) But caveat emptor on used.. Good, clean optics can be expensive but worth it.. Iʻll risk the money when it comes in a factory sealed container.

Camera optics - C mount lenses ( commercial cameras ) - Marshall ( mars-cam.com ) sells a nice array of relatively inexpensive camera lenses. ( not your nikon SLR type ) They also offer webcam lenses. Most of the companies that make lenses also sell them on-line.

Reading material - CircuitCellar.com or elektor.com - great mags for prototyping electronics. Iʻve gotten CC since the editor was writing for Byte. Make Magazine is more eclectic but fun too..

I havenʻt seen the equivalent here in Hawaiʻi but I love to wander surplus houses.( Antiquing for tech geeks. ) Boeing used to have a great one.. Wierd Stuff in Sunnyvale,CA ; Mendelsohnʻs in Dayton, Ohio ( the USAF R&D center is in Dayton as well as hundreds of small R&D labs )

Anyway, enough rambling for me for tonight.. a hui hou..

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