Most people who visit to this site are either DIY’ers, Makers, Hackers, or Robotics / RC enthusiast.  gear_toolsFor the most part, we all do the same thing – we build or mod stuff for our projects or hobbies.  Over the years, experience and repetition has given we wisdom as to what works, what doesn’t, and key components that I want to have on hand.  I wanted to share a list of parts/components I have found useful for helping me get my projects off the ground quickly.  I’ll add to this list over time.

Item Desc Pic
NodeMCU Mini (ESP8266)  3 piece kit.  1 piece here. This is my current go-to Arduino compatible MCU.   It has enough IO pins to suit most projects and allows me to build on my IoT portfolio. Capture
Nextion TFT LCD’s I recently stumbled across these and have started using them in my projects.   After fumbling for years with other TFTs like the RA8875, the Nextion is like the iPhone if TFTs.  It comes with it’s own HMI editor which makes developing user interfaces a snap.  It also communicates over USART, so all you need is 4 pins (5V, GND, RX, TX).  It’s also fast and has lots of memory.  There are also the advanced models that come with more memory, their own RTC and GPIO pins.   They may seem pricey at first glance, but take a deeper dive into how robust the Editor is and you will be convinced that the value is there.   They also offer models from 2.4″ to 7.0″ and all have touch screens. capture

ESP-8266 WiFI

I just discovered this great little unit for my IoT projects.  It’s a NodeMCU 80Mhz unit.  Lots of RAM and fast.  Uses an ESP-8266 for WiFi connectivity, works with Arduino, lots of IO pins, SPI, I2C etc etc.  Where have you been!  Just picked up 2 of them and, for $8CAD, it’s going to become the core of my future IoT projects! Capture
Micro Controller: AtTiny85-based   Useful for small projects that require a limited set of digital/PWM or analog pins.  i.e small robots, sumo, or IoT projects.  Lots of support via  Here is a Digispark knock-off but works just as well. Capture
Micro Controller: Arduino Nano  Great for small to medium projects requiring micro-controllers. Lots of digital/PWM and analog pins. Lots of support via  Other similar items. Uno. If you are new to Arduino, get a starter kit. Capture
USB to RS232 USB to RS232 TTL adapters are a must have for anyone needing to upload firmware to micro controllers.  Just make sure you check the reviews as some knock-offs don’t work due to fake FTDI chips being used. Capture
Raspberry Pi Looking for a more powerful computing platform to control your robots, 3D printer, IoT project?  Raspberry Pi is where it’s at right now…  I recently untethered my LulzBot Mini from the need for a PC by putting OctoPrint on a Raspberry Pi 2.  Now I can remotely control and monitor my prints from anywhere on any of my devices.  There are a tonne of add-ons as well.  Search. Capture
 Power Supplies There are lots of options here. I typically have a number of buck converters to supply 3v3 – 5V to my various Arduino projects. There are fixed or variable voltage flavours.  I typically go for the variable ones as they are more flexible:  This one (5 for $6 CAD) is tiny and great for most smaller projects.  There is also this one, or do a search.  Capture
Power Filter A LC power filter is a must for RC hobbies. Particularly useful for FPV applications.  Other options. Capture
 Wire I like to use small gauge silicon wire for many of my projects. It’s easy to work with, good quality, does not melt when soldering.  You can also get many different sizes.  Silocone Wire.  There are other options as well here, or just searching.  Capture
 Boards A staple part of any project, boards come in all shapes and sizes.  You can also get boards with connected pads to allow for + / – rails etc.  Just read the details carefully before purchasing.  Some options here, or search for others.  Capture
Motors  There are all sorts of options for motors.  Gear motors are useful for sumo or other small robots.  The are small, metal gears and have lots of torque.  They come in all sorts of ratios.   Search  Capture
LEDs   I like these tiny WS2812 LEDs as they can be stringed together and are addressable. For a few bucks, you get tiny RGB addressable LEDs that you can put anywhere on your quad or plane.  They work well with CleanFlight/BaseFlight as well as others.  Capture
 Tools The base set of tools that I always have around me include a jack-knife/multitool, small multi-bit screwdriver, allen keys, wire cutter, wire stripper, small nose pliers, and a micrometer – this one works well.  Don’t forget the wire stripper.  Capture
Multimeter A multimeter is another must for any electronics project.  They allow you to measure/test voltage, resistance, current, and sometimes caps, transistors and diodes.  Here’s a nice one. Capture
Hand Drill Hand drills are useful when you have to make small holes in board, 3D printed parts etc.  Here’s a nice option. Capture
Oscilloscope Oscilloscope’s are not absolutely necessary, but useful for trying to troubleshoot issues such as PWM measurement, frequencies etc.  Here’s a nice small one by DSO.  Other options. Capture
Batteries Depending on your project needs, there are batteries of all shapes and sizes. LiPo’s are  great options for small robotic projects. They are light, small and pack an excellent power to weight ratio.  That’s why they are used across the RC spectrum.  Be careful as you can’t drain them below their base voltage, and you need a proper charger.  These batteries can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use and charge them.  Here’s a good option for a mini sumo robot. (Search).  Don’t forget you will need a proper charger as well.  Depending on the size you can buy a small board-based charger, or a proper one that can do many sizes.  If you own lipo’s you should be storing them in either a metal box or lipo safe bag.  Google LiPo fire if you don’t know why. Capture
Standoffs / Spacers Standoffs and spacers are a staple for most RC applications, and useful for DIY projects.  Often you want to space perf boards or shields away from others or the base of the enclosure.  Capture
Screws I find that I typically use combinations of M3 and M4 screws for most of my projects.   You can get stainless or other types.  Capture
Project Box  Pretty self-explanatory, project boxes are necessary to package components together and keep them protected.  Capture
Bluetooth Bluetooth modules are an easy way to connect your projects to other devices.  For example, you want to make a remote controlled robot you control from your phone.  Or you want to create a weather device that you can remotely monitor. The HC-05 and HC-06 are popular modules.
ESP-8266  These cheap and useful WiFi modules began hitting the market in mass in 2015.  They are easy ways to get your project connected to the Internet.  Useful for remote monitoring (i.e. water levels, temperature, etc).  You can get just the WiFi module to add to your Arduino, or better yet, get an all-in-one module that has both an Arduino-compatible micro controller and the ESP-8266 WiFi chip.  ESP-8266 Modules.  There’s also the Adafruit Huzzah.  There’s also a Node MCU flavour as well. Capture
LCD/OLED Useful for displaying information from IoT or sensors, LCD’s and OLEDs are good low cost options.  They come in many sizes as well.  This Nokia 5110 LCD is very popular with lots of library support.  There are all sorts of arduino / Pi compatible LCD’s out there.  Capture
Heat Shrink A staple part of most projects, heat shrink tubing is a must to protect connections between soldered wires or save from shorting.  Other options. Capture
 RC: Transmitter Taranis X9D Plus.   One of the best TX’s out there for the $$.  They often have discount/coupon codes out there that can net you an addn’l 6-8% off.  Capture
 RC: Servo  Emax ES9251 2.5g Plastic Micro Digital Servo For RC Model.   These things are super small.  Great for tiny RC projects, or robots.  Capture
 RC: Quad Frame  FeeYoung ZX-250 250MM Carbon Fiber Folding Frame Kit.  (Glass Fiber version).  There are lots of other quad parts  as well.  Capture