It's hard to go wrong with free. Parts manufacturers are often more than happy to ship you, for no cost, a few samples of their merchandise. They often ship within the week, sometimes the next day, and with free 2-3 day FedEx/UPS.
http://razorconcepts.net/samples.html (very outdated compared with info below).
note: since you can try getting samples from any distributor, to clear things up I'm
marking unverified ones, those which require extensive sales team contact or those who just don't have an option to request samples on the webpage; also, I reordered and cleaned the list a bit - vaxquis
Maxim/Dallas Semiconductor DC-DC converters, serial line drivers, motor control, RF… Maxim specializes in "this part does one thing and does it they way you want it" chip design. If you want something analog, they've probably got it in stock. Login required, no hard limits on part amount/value (but be reasonable!).
I order samples alot from Maxim and they never turned me down. And I order way more than once per 90 days and they have never turned me down. - koolkat
I ordered literally 100s of samples, got 99% of them and most got shipped very quickly (~3-4 work days); note that some exotic parts require Business Manager authorization and will take a bit longer to process; I got authorization on every single item I requested (including microcontrollers and more expensive parts), YMMV. Note that there WAS a part (MAX274, not too exotic IMO) that have been shipped *after 4 months* - if a part of your delivery gets postponed a couple of times, you *will* get it someday, although you'll never know when… (May-August 2013') - vaxquis
Analog Devices High quality analog components, from the lowly comparator to the 60Ms/s D/A converter. Almost, but not everything, is available and I've found that sending a friendly email or calling them will net you what you're looking for. Unofficially, if its less than $10, it isn't a problem. The FAQ clams that Order limits are 2 of 3 parts, but there is no limit to how many samples you can request (although more than every other week is probably pushing your luck).
Got 4 MCUs, shipped with TNT (i think) - Squeck
They also have a college student sampling program. -Thrymr
currently the limit is 4 parts, 2 pieces of each, every two weeks. Always shipped in about a week by TNT, everything in perfect condition, no questions asked. (2013-2014) - vaxquis
Texas Instruments (National Semi) Great things come from TI. More analog, of course. DSPs, some logic, battery management. You can sample anything off their big list. 5 different parts per order, with 1 each of the expensive stuff (like DSPs) and up to 3 each of the more common chips (as of 2013). Sent through Digi-Key as of 2013/2014.
Note: you can sample MOS from TI without any problem.
They shipped everything fast, without questions and absolutely free (2013/14/15) - Germanstudent
I got some samples from TI and I didn't get any calls… They have very fast shipping. - Vaati
I didn't get any calls and they don't seem to have any hard limit for request frequency, either. (Still, don't abuse it.) For shipping, they allow you to pick from FedEx Ground, 2-Day, and Next Day, none of which cost anything to you. Also, I might just be slow at catching on, but a lot of manufacturers (National, TI, ST, etc.) look like they ship a lot of their samples from Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The specific address they ship from matches with Digi-Key's address, so they're probably forwarding the sample requests to Digi-Key for fulfillment. (I think Fairchild forwards to Mouser, if the Mouser box I got is any indication.) Just something to add.
For this month I've made 4 sample orders with an avg of 5 different parts with 3 or 4 of each.
If you are not a company it is possible to get your request denied, this is because TIs help-pages about ordering-information are wrong/lacking. For company name. If you're self employed, then use Independent Designer or Independent Consultant in the company name field. - Wody
Current stance on students - I've got this rejection explanation reply (May 2013, I *used* a university email),REVIEWER COMMENTS :We do accept samples delivery for university student project ONLY via hands of university project supervisors (professors), and only USING THE UNIVERSITY EMAIL and DELIVERY ADDRESS. You can also order samples via our catalog distributors Farnell,DigiKey or Mouser
I used a company email after that, and was able to receive samples successfully after about a week of waiting (5 parts max; 3 pcs of common ones, 2 pcs of expensive ones and 1 pc of prototype circuits max), shipped by FedEx International Priority with package tracking [note: I later did that numerous times with different parts; TI never complained, but FedEx once made some trouble with customs on a high value order] (August 2013) - vaxquis
Intersil Power, Data, Interface, Muxes and Timing chips, many of them in DIP packages. You can sample 8x 2pcs, most of the parts (with the obvious exception of MIL-class ones) are available for sampling. Most sent through Digi-Key with some parts forwarded by some mystery distributor (as of 2014).
I just got 10 HIP4081AIP chips from Intersil as samples.
The samples arrived without any problem. (March 2014) - vaxquis
Fairchild Semiconductor The twin of National. You'll need to register but the only time I ordered something it was sent FedEx express and they didnt mind that I wanted 10. They have some policy, perhaps when you click on it, it won't say "updated soon."
Fairchild limits samples to 5 line items per week per customer and requires a pay email address.
Fairchild wants you to submit a phone number when you register for free samples. They claim it is only to provide UPS with the information in case they have trouble delivering. I didn't give them a phone number and they held my sample order until I negotiated in email with them to clarify why they needed a phone number. In the end, they nicely shipped my samples for free without getting my phone number. I was very pleased.
Fairchild now requires a Corporate e-mail address,"Fairchild offers free samples to corporate customers with corporate email accounts we are able to validate.
The email address you are using does not pass our validation. We are unable to ship free samples to you. "
Their "Corporate Address" checking system is fairly weak, however. You can successfully sneak past it using a disposable e-mail address from a site such as http://10minutemail.com/
.edu addresses get rejected. I got a response saying they don't offer samples to schools or individuals.
Fairchild lets you order 10 each of up to 5 line items in a 7-day period. You can do it in 1 order, or 5 orders, though you may as well do it all in one and save them the shipping costs. If you start to submit an order, but don't get all the way through (to the final "submit") button, your order will be lost, and you'll have to wait 7 days to resubmit. - foobar
Will not ship to Australia (Fairchild does not ship samples to the country selected in your shopping cart.) - jimloko
Won't ship to probably whole Europe (e.g. Germany or Poland). Ships to US addresses. (August 2013) - vaxquis
Microchip The de-facto standard for annoying microcontroller design. Regardless, it's up there with the 8051 and AVR in popularity. It seems like you can get their more popular <$5 microcontrollers sampled. Also, of course, are their little eeprom memory chips, mid-freq RF chips and 'analog glue.' According to their FAQ (link is dead), you can get 3 of 4 different parts, twice a month, shipped via 3-day.
Note: you can sample MOS from Microchip.
"Microchip is so sweet. They always ship without hassle and never send you spam. They don't require a phone and have online ordering."
Atleast in Canada, your samples are sent FedEx to the local sales office, then sent to your address.
You have to have a suitable 'company' address to get samples by registering. This could be an issue for a few people as you need firstname.lastname@example.org or similar. - mowcius
Does not send samples to some countries in Asia - xtian16
Currently seems to be sending 2-5 of up to 2 parts, and there is a sliding 30-day window, in which you can order 3 times. Microchip is great about sampling microcontrollers; they're much easier to get than Atmel ones. - foobar
The only place easier to get samples from then Microchip is TI. You just have to not have a blacklisted address like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc. Their samples ship the fastest of any. Samples arrive in those anti-static buildup tubes with little posts on each end that require needle nose pliers to pull out. No hassles. - Anonymous Coward
Up to 2 parts, up to 3 pcs each. Received them about 3 weeks after placing an order by UK Air Mail. Sample shipments to Europe, Middle East, and Africa are made via UK Parcel Post. No problems, no questions asked, just sit & wait for the samples to come. (August 2013) - vaxquis
Atmel Ubiquitous microcontrollers, you can get engineering samples for unreleased chips. Sent through Digi-Key as of 2013/2014.
"I got a good number of AVRs from a friendly distributor without a hassle." -Eriador
"Just ordered the atmega328 so I can make me an arduino. Already shipped. Should be here Tuesday, according to UPS :D" -gtr_stitch
"Filled out the sample form and Atmel send me some stuff through Digi-key, wasn't a hassle at all." -Wody
"Just got shipping conformation on a few 1284s, 644s, and 328s. Relatively easy if you fill the forms out like your actually from a company." -CoDLiNK (10/15/2012)
"APPROVAL DECLINED". Trying once again - "Order XXX from the Atmel Sample Center was shipped on Aug 16 2013 1:14PM via DHL WW EXPRESS." Got them in couple of days. You definitely CAN get those samples, you just have to be cool about what you request and in what amounts. I was able to get up to 2 pcs (eg 1 pc of 1284P and 1 pc of 324P) total, they always declined on >2 though. (2013/2014) - vaxquis
Linear Technology More high quality parts, finally added 'one click' sampling for most of their electronics. Allows 2 samples each of up to 5 varieties of parts.
Packages are sent via Fedex Express
Got 2 LT1302CN8-5, shipped via post - Squeck
Linear happily sent me 2 x LT1302CN8-5 to Australia via the local distributor. - tronixstuff
I ordered 2 voltage regulators, and received them in about 1.5 weeks.
5 parts max, 2 pcs each for a sample order. Requested some 10x10$ parts, they arrived 2 weeks later in two separate packages (despite the fact they could easily fit into one), part statement in the first one read '0' on the amount parts that were sent in the other. Everything else in perfect order. Sent from local sales office and arrived by regular international mail package. They *do* reject orders sent too often (I did one by mistake)(August 2013) - vaxquis
Silicon Laboratories 8051, ARM3/4, optoisolators and clock generators/PLL/xtals mainly. 4 different parts per order, 2 pcs of a part, and 3 orders in a 30 day period.
I just ordered two SIM3U167-B-GQ (ARM Cortex-M3 USB 256KB TQFP80) which are nice ARM processors with two integrated ADCs and it didn't seem to be a problem.
Same here. Request (ARM3, 8051, optos) fulfilled in a couple of days, shipped by Mouser (March 2014) - vaxquis
"ST will happily send you up to 8 different samples for free. Quantity for each chip varies (I got anything from 3 to 5), and you have to register and provide some semi-credible excuse on what you intend to do with the goodies. If you're into audio, you could do worse than use STM's chips." - Luca R.
They ship via UPS Saver.
"ST is amazing - they ship by overnight UPS (to BC, Canada, anyway), don't ask too many questions, and (apparently) will ship to anyone with a mailing address that isn't a PO Box. Currently (July 19, 2009), they're offering R-LINK JTAG adapters, but please don't abuse this, because they're being awfully nice, and they will remove them if you do." - ffejery
"ST is great, I ordered 3 samples of a $10 3-axis accelorometer, among many other things, and it shipped UPS 2nd day the day after I requested them, and I got them two days later!" -conrthomas
"Tried to order from them but been told that I have to get my samples(buy them)from their distributors."-Brosiman -July 2011
"my arm cortex m4 will be here by end of day Tuesday, according to UPS :)"-gtr_stitch
Thank you for requesting samples from STMicroelectronics. This message is to inform you that we will not be able to process your request.
The requested samples are available and can be purchased from our distributor(s).
- so no samples anymore; I'll try with different batch, but I won't keep my hopes up. - vaxquis (August 2013)
ON Semiconductor The other half of Motorola's semiconductor business (see Freescale) they manufacture a broad selection of logic, passive, and interface ICs. Samples incur a $15-20USD handling charge but nearly everything is samplable and they're happy to ship 10 each of 8 items or more. Samples come 2 days FedEx express, although some samples are shipped "at market lead time" and take up to a month before shipping.
An excellent source for weird and special transistors.
They certainly do sample. I've sampled ON motor drivers twice in the last few months. For example, follow Home > Products > Product Taxonomy > Drivers > Motor Drivers > AMIS-30522. At the bottom of the page for this driver the sample option is present and it does work. ON samples many, many parts including some very expensive ECL components. - joen
I was finally able to find samples on ON just to notice I'd have to pay $15.99 for shipping and $5 for handling… ~$21 for an order; it's true you can sample products with value higher than that to offset it, but overall I don't find this price too appealing (2014) - vaxquis
NXP Formerly Philips Semiconductors, all kinds of logic, data, amp, discrete and uC stuff. While they *don't* generally offer sampling to individuals (they forward you to local distributors), they, from time to time, have sampling programs for new parts, i.e. browse through http://www.nxp.com/news/campaigns.html and try to find a campaign with "request free samples" option, e.g. Logic Portable Industrial (http://www.nxp.com/campaigns/portable-industrial/select-samples).
Just received 150 SMD logic gates. It took them a while, and also a local distributor called me with "please meet me and talk about the project" after sending the request, but they came, shipped with DHL (March 2014) - vaxquis
Cirrus Logic Digital chips, D/A converters, Ethernet controllers, audio/video decoders, etc…Sometimes require a little encouragement/email to get their samples to you.
Cirrus Logic @ Sample Components Samples may be requested through web. They can send up to 2 different parts. Maximum of 5 pieces per part number. -xtian16
Freescale Semiconductor (previously Motorola) A variety of ASICs, microcontrollers, and other 'high function' semiconductors. Has a sample program where you can order 5 parts, 3 times per month.
Freescale also has a range of MEMS sensors. Their sample system requests basic information "what are your intentions with our parts". Shipping is generally through FedEx or UPS.
I've successfully gotten samples shipped by UPS Next Day Air for free, with few questions asked. I didn't even have to deal with a person.
Will charge a nominal fee for generic email address requests
Looks like they charge a $10 "processing charge" on free samples (but no shipping charges). - foobar
Allegro Microsystems A smaller manufacturer of mostly DC/DC converters, you can sample from their website. Samples are sent via distributors, and they usually contact you before. (And sometimes refuse)
"To open a credit account, request a sample or for contact information about individual Cypress locations, contact a local sales office." - August 2013. - vaxquis
Lumex has LEDs, high power LEDs, LCDs, backlights, light pipes, and other such. Just look at their various products, and if you can get a sample, there will be a little shopping cart. I know they have high power LEDs, light pipes, and backlights available for sampling. I'm not sure on the specifics of what you can get, and I haven't tried to order anything yet. From their Product Sample Cart page:
It is our practice to offer samples from available stock to our customers' technical staff for new designs or substitution evaluation and qualification. Products in sample quantities for any other purpose can be purchased via our distributors. Actual shipment and quantity of samples is subject to availability and unit price. We reserve the right to decline any sample request that in our opinion does not comply with our standard practice.
I've been trying to get anything from them for a long time; definitely DON'T sample expensive parts (even if they DO have sample option), DON'T use student/hobby emails, and be prepared for LONG waits and MANY requests before anything happens. I've sent three or four requests throughout last 4 months, and only gotten a single reply (after almost a month), stating that the parts are too expensive to actually sample them, despite the option on the page. No response to my follow-up email at all. (August 2013) - vaxquis
Sensirion Manufacturer of a selection of sensors; occasionally, they offer them for sampling.
Got call from sales rep, had to convince them to send, through local distributor. Got 10 each of 4 different diodes, though. - foobar
Tried to sample, got some follow-up mail but no further actions despite my repeated attempts. I'd call it a no-no, you may have better luck (albeit that's unlikely IMO) (2013) - vaxquis
Zilog Manufactures MCUs, not much selection but they'll send you a lot of stuff.
I sampled their Z-8, Z-80, and Z-16 microcontrollers and they were all easy to get worked into projects. Zilog has a free downloadable IDE for their chips and the Zilog USB Smart Cable programmer is $30 at DigiKey. It's cheap and easy to use these microcontrollers if you have the inclination. - joen
Austria Microsystems Successfully sampled 3X3. Their mission statement "We provide innovative analog solutions in power management, sensors & sensor interfaces and mobile infotainment to the most challenging applications". Their magnetic encoders are slick. They have a couple of very nice LED drivers - AS1130 and AS1100 - just as good as what Maxim and TI have to offer.
Macronix International Only just checked out their site, but stumbled upon this place while trying to find a datasheet for an eprom chip I found. Looks like you can sample a ton from what their form suggests, but per the usual, don't abuse it. They have nand flash, nor flash and rom. Will update when I try to sample. -gtr_stitch
Renesas Self-described "largest" manufacturer of MCUs in the world allows small qty sampling of their MCUs - right on the top page. Just ordered a R5F562N8BDFP. Apparently they only allow Qty 1 of 1 part, but with free overnight shipping the gross inefficiency of this setup is on them and not you. They just got back to me. My order of one hour ago has already shipped, UPS 1 day with a tracking number. Can't argue with free, fast, and professional, even if it is for one $9 part.
Did another order with them, they are now offering up to 3 on 1 part. Took three R5F562N8BDFB this time (same controller, 144 pins instead of 100).
Note: for MOS parts, you can try TI or Microchip (see above)
Vishay Optoelectronics, passives, discrete semiconductors
I asked for 10 RGB LEDs. They sent me 11: fast, without questions and free (2013) - Germanstudent
Got 10 yellow LEDs for free shipped with UPS Saver - Squeck
I've gotten a number of samples from Vishay (diodes, LEDs, crystals), but often it takes a long time (weeks and weeks, with no shipment notice or other status) and they come from a (relatively) local sales rep. - foobar
Got my samples within a week without any hassle(July 2011)-Brosiman
16 big LEDs weren't a problem for them; you certainly CAN (and SHOULD, if you have any doubts about your order) mail their samples department to get confirmation on it and shipment tracking number. I got my confirmation the next business day after I sent my inquiry. Sent from local sales office, shipped by UPS Express Saver, received them 9 days after requesting. Sampled numerous passives (resistor networks, precision resistors etc) from them later on, almost all were sent in separate packages and sometimes they sent reduced amounts or different parts - but overall I got everything I requested without much trouble. (July 2013) - vaxquis
I got the requested parts after a month's wait, without follow-ups - so you definitely *can* get those passives from them (August 2013') - vaxquis
Bivar LED and other similar optos.
I was able to get a handful (4x5pcs) of UV/IR LEDs from them after contacting the local distributor and a couple of polite email/phone reminders. Overall the time wasted on this was about the value of the parts, but you may be more lucky. (August 2013') - Vaxquis
Appears to do samples of LEDs/optoelectronics.
Tyco Electronics (TE) / AMP A similar range as to Molex's, plus heat shrink tubing, passives, switches, all kinds of things. You can request samples by navigating to the product's page and clicking on the corresponding button.
They maintain order history, and send shipping notices. It can be hard to find samples of certain things, because they have "request sample" links for all products, but samples are not stocked for many products (though they will suggest alternatives). - foobar
Just got shipping notification for several connectors. Shipped by FEDEX 3 day. No hassles, easy registration, but when you are ordering samples, fill out the forms as if you are a company. (10/15/2012) -CoDLiNK
I got 2x6 samples of switches from them; fast shipping (international in a couple of days), great parts - and they deal in passives too (see above); note that sometimes (my case) the order was filled only partially, and that not all parts are available for sampling (August 2013') - vaxquis
SamTec "They ship samples quite quickly, and I've never been pestered with followup calls."
ditto. I got it in 2 days by UPS, without a slightest problem. Note that won't be able to sample some common cables/connectors, but if you find it on their page with sample option, you're 99% getting it ASAP. Sometimes they give the items in bulk amount, sometimes only single ones or two pieces, YMMV (May/August 2013') - vaxquis
Mill-Max Connectors and IC sockets. They seem to ship quickly at no charge (US only?).
They send me 10 connectors 4 free without questions via USMail (2013) - Germanstudent
I just tried to order a couple connectors and was sent this in reply:
Thank you for your interest in Mill-Max products. The samples you requested may be purchased through our authorized distributor Digi-Key. Please contact them at http://www.digikey.com.
Had the same response - Brosiman 19th June 2012
The exact same response; I think that you have to sample stuff that *isn't* described as "In Stock at Distributor", but instead focus on parts "In Stock at Factory"; after sending a request with exclusively non-available stuff I received a reply:Thank you for your interest in Mill-Max products. Our authorized distributors currently handle all overseas requests for samples. Please visit http://www.mill-max.com/distribu/search_distributor_main.cfm to search for a distributor in your area.
so it seems to be difficult if you're not from North America.
update: I contacted one of their distributors in Europe (WDI AG) and their representative agreed to broker a sampling request to Mill-Max. I received the samples today. Took a couple of polite mails and about two weeks in total. Not for the faint-hearted. (August 2013) - vaxquis
Grounding/static protection and some simple ESD-proof connectors.
received some (dozens of simple alligator clips etc) samples after email verification (December 2014) - vaxquis
A full-range supplier of interconnects, sockets, cables, etc. They'll send you 3 or so of almost all their parts, usually very quickly, but sometimes not at all.
I requested samples and they shipped them the next day via USPS First Class(fancy way to say "standard") - koolkat
I tried several times, could never get anything sent, or any order confirmation - foobar
no samples nor reply from them (tried in 2013 and in 2014) - Vaxquis
ITW/Fastex Sells hardware, some of which may be useful for electronics projects (connectors, clips, etc). Looks like you can sample up to 15 pieces of any part they offer.
Ordered 2 different PCB standoffs qty of 15 each no problem - mrramsey
Keystone electronics Connectors of all kinds, USB, serial, battery holders (coin cell, AA, N, SMD and through-hole) and more No questions asked, FedEx 2-day for free.
ordered 4 samples shipped next day no questions - mrramsey
Metz Connect Sell various connectors. Not checked yet.
Memory Protection Devices Connectors and battery holders. Sends by UPS Ground.
Norcomp Many connectors. Haven't tried ordering, looks like you can request 2 each of 2 different part numbers and they will charge you for shipping.
FCI USB and other computer connectors. Can request samples of 2 different part numbers at a time.
No response frome these guys (2013) - Germanstudent
They have no order status or notification, besides initial confirmation, and some parts can take a long time (when backordered). But I've gotten everything I've asked for. - foobar
PacTec Enclosures Has a large line of nice enclosures for your electronics project, many with battery cases and clips. Will send you 2 of their new designs for free. You can buy many of their cases from Mouser or directly from their site.
"Ships via FedEx Ground" - curriegrad2004
"Now has a $10 Shipping fee" - bman22
Due to the number of inquires we are no longer able to send samples for free. There is a $40 minimum order policy to cover order processing. Please increase your order amount to proceed to checkout. - Copy from their site, 6-21-2008 - Seth
"Can you send me a sample?"
Due to the large number of requests we are unable to send out samples. New Age enclosures has a 250 minimum piece order to cover processing costs.
Distributors like Mouser Electronics are capable of shipping out single items.- August 2013, vaxquis
OKW Enclosures - Imports enclosures from Teko Enclosures, which has a bit more selection that you can also sample. OKW's selection is like Serpac's, but the enclosures are usually only available in black, gray, or white. Only one unit of up to 6 sample parts can be sampled and the "Get a Sample" link must be present on the left sidebar to be eligible. Ships via UPS Ground.
Ordered an enclosure from OKW (Back ordered but was informed it will ship when they come in) I have yet to try the electronics division.
They called me and told me that they have shipped the enclosure samples. But I have to pay for them if I want them. -fubar
they forwarded the request to local distributor, which (thankfully) sent me (for free) most of the samples requested after a phone call. (August 2013) - vaxquis
Serpac - Offers many different project enclosures, from heavy toolboxes to tiny remote control style cases. Many cases offer clear or IR transparent front plates as well as AA and 9V battery holders. Offers many different project enclosures, from heavy toolboxes to tiny remote control style cases. Seems to be sending 2-5 of up to 2 parts, and there is a sliding 30-day window, in which you can order 3 times.
confirmed ordered 2 enclosures with battery holders - shipped right away - mrramsey
Ordered 3 enclosures. Shipped via USPS international. One enclosure was incomplete and totally broken. -fubar
Serpac is FABULOUS! I ordered one sample late at night. The next morning I received a very friendly and cheerful response. Fast forward a week or two later and a large box with THIRTEEN assorted enclosures showed up! Serpac4Life! -Anonymous Coward
no reply from them after repeated attempts; I seriously doubt if the samples are still available from them (2013/2014) - vaxquis
Hammond Manufacturing They are high quality, inexpensive and apparently they'll send you free parts if you call them up. No direct sampling option available on the webpage.
NKK Switches - Has a lot of different switches and buttons. And there was no scary questions asked - yosh
requested 6 samples but it looks like they deferred it off to Mouser… - mrramsey
Requested samples, but Mouser explained that NKK does not do samples anymore, but you can still get the parts from mouser. ~ stepstools
Has plenty of interesting switches but unfortunately want you to buy them through their
distributor. Note that Lambind.com directs you to the same site.-Brosiman
They forwarded me to local distributor, the distributor largely ignored me (phoned me once and then, despite an actual case of needing the samples for a project, ignored me completely after that, even after my further calls/mails). (2013) - vaxquis
MicroMetals Sells nice toroids for RF and power filtering and line conversion. Nice bunch of people, will send you 2 x 5 toroids for free.
Fox Electronics Sells crystals, oscillators, etc. Apparently will ship up to 9 samples of a crystal.
Tried requesting (through "find a sample") and was denied. - foobar
Send me 5 20MHz, 5 16Mhz, 5 24Mhz. - GinPB
Tried a samples order for a few inexpensive crystals - same as GinPB above, 5 20MHz, 5 16Mhz, 5 24Mhh (why mess with something you know works). They emailed back and want detailed corporate information - "Due to increased security in the United States, Fox Electronics requires all customers and potential customers to provide specific company information and the destination and end use of our products." I thought maybe they wanted this information prior to shipping but I did receive the crystals I requested in about 5 days. Very happy.
Purdy Electronics You can sample LCD displays (free for alpha-numeric modules but will cost you for graphic displays) and LEDs from them, but they check every order and will call you to confirm, and they do not send to students or hobbyists.
These people are very helpful in their e-mail support however it is quite hard to get samples from them and they dont like to sample multiple products for free. Just talk to them and I am quite sure they will be able to hook you up. Also have a good excuse to have parts such as an electronics company as you will have to answer quite a few questions before they will ship you samples!!! -Ollee
It was very easy to get an alphanumeric display from these people. They are very friendly. It only took me one day to set up and finalize the sample order. Ships via UPS Ground. EDIT: I forgot to mention that I have a corporate email address, maybe that's why they were so nice…they even offered to send me more. - koolkat
Free shipping only for US residents. -GinPB
It was easy to get the sample. They sent one email asking us to explain what the sample will be used for and then they shipped. After we received the sample they sent follow-up emails which became rather rude after we did not respond. Purdy was very different from our other sampling experiences. -Anonymous Coward
GIL Technologies - A GML1000 and other RF PCB-laminate manufacturer. (When FR-4 just wont cut it.) They'll send you a 12"x18" sheet of their product for free. Their website is down as of March 12th, 2007
RichCo Inc Various plastic hardware, fan mounting stuff, lots of wire ties and wire tie accessories, cable management, circuit board mounting and supports
Coilcraft Sells RF chip inductor, power inductor, power magnetics, and other inductors. You can sample from their website. They ship the samples by USPS-Xpress. On their website, they say they may restrict samples for non-OEM activities but they have a student policy which allow them to send me some inductors, you have to send them an e-mail with the name and the phone number of the teacher and the nature of the project.
They have some helpful tools for finding inductors to match certain ICs, and sometimes suggest alternatives. - foobar
Parallax You may be able to get a sample Basic Stamp 1 (or other parallax products) from them if you politely contact the sales dept.
LittelFuse They sell fuses and similar stuff. They have great PTCs, and they do deliver.
I submitted a sample request through the Bourns website. A few days later I was contacted on the phone by a rep. The rep told me he "wanted to make sure I was an engineer and not just some poor college student." - this was with regards to an order for two $0.60 parts. Then he kept insisting I meet him in person to 'discuss the project'. You have been warned. -johngineer
Ametherm Power thermistors (NTC inrush current limiters)
AVX Corporation Capacitors, inductors, and resistors. Put up to 5 part numbers into the form and off you go.
KOA Speer Electronics Capacitors, inductors, resistors, etc. Their form allows for up to 10 samples and 100 Currently seems to be sending 2-5 of up to 2 parts, and there is a sliding 30-day window, in which you can order 3 times. Microchip is great about sampling microcontrollers; they're much easier to get than Atmel ones. - foobar
Due to the number of inquires we are no longer able to send samples for free. There is a $40 minimum order policy to cover order processing. Please increase your order amount to proceed to checkout. - Copy from their site, 6-21-2008 - Seth
Central Technologies Plenty of passives like inductors and ceramic chip capacitors. They even offer free evaluation kits on some items. They check each order with a sales contact.
API Delevan Inductors, transformers. Sample form allows up to 5 different part numbers. SJS Products Distributor of electronics components, mechanical components, etc. Will send samples through their request quote form.
Ordered a "Colorburst" Crystal from them. Just a little while ago, actually. Will post more if more comes of it! - gtr_stitch
Revise - Nope. They just provide a list of distributors where you can "purchase" samples. Bummer. - gtr_stitch
STILL NEEDED: Suppliers of samples for hardware / electronics not currently covered by the above companies. (such as batteries and other miscellaneous items used in DIY electronics.)
Not quite a sample, but still free, I have acquired entire shopping bags full of disposable camera shells from local supermarkets with photolabs (HyVee, etc) (Wal-Mart was very unhelpfull. I was told by someone in the photolab they resell the shells for 2$ to some company.) Inside the shell you'll find a bunch of small plastic gears and parts (handy) the odd spring, a PCB containing: a nice 300v cap, a xenon flashbulb, and other nice parts, and 1 AA Battery, usually pretty well fully charged. Out of one bag containing 30 cameras, I only had two dead batteries. - spindizy