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Free Samples

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Abstract Dissonance, Feb 11, 2006.

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  1. I'm supprised to find that many manufacturers give out free
    samples(competely free!!). I'm wondering if anyone has constructed a list of
    all the companies that do this. Right now I have only have microchip and I'm
    waiting for the confirmation letter from National Semiconductors.

    Maybe a nice informative list would be helpful?
    Pic Microcontrollers, DSP's, Memory, Regulators, ADC/DAC, Linear, Power
    Management, Misc.

  2. Stef Mientki

    Stef Mientki Guest

    Did you use you own mail address,
    I mean at hotmail ?
    Because a lot of manufactures require a "real" email address.
    These manufactures all keep a log on shipped free samples,
    so don't start requesting free samples just because you get them for
    free, but order only when you need them.
    AFAIK, all manufactures send free samples.
    Stef Mientki
  3. No, most won't take hotmail I guess... atleast microchip won't. I used my
    edu address. Right now I have gotten free samples from TI, National
    Semiconductors, and Microchip. Each one seems to have a different way of
    doing it but most allow you to order a few samples in a certain time period.

    Microchip lets you order max 2 times in a span of a month max 5 different
    types of samples of usually a maximum of 3 or so.

    TI lets you order a maximum of 8 of varying quanities depending on the
    sample type... doesn't say how often you can order though(says depends on
    who you are basicaly).

    NS lets you only order only 1 free sample order of a maximum of five samples
    per week.

    Any other sites I should check out?

  4. I tried vishay and fairchild but they won't let me get any samples ;/
    (Fairchild says I'm denied and Vishay says they can't find a rep in my area
    or some shit).
  5. Chris

    Chris Guest

    Hi, Jon. Take a second and look at what the manufacturer is trying to
    do here.

    First, they're looking for design wins, those projects that result in
    orders of thousands to millions of the part every year over a period of
    years. A sample part is a small investment here, and all manufacturers
    are willing to make that investment. I've had both positive and
    negative experiences here.

    Second, you have the aspiring student. If they have mercy on a poor
    churchmouse of an EE major, they know that someday that undergrad may
    become a design engineer, who might be predisposed toward their parts
    because of a good experience in school. Again, possibly a good
    investment, but chancy. I had a good experience from National
    Semiconductor that actually caused me to lean toward their parts in my
    later years.

    Then you have the hobbyist or contriver of contrivances, who's
    primarily interested in a one-off, and has little or no future sales
    potential. These are a PITA to them, and are disposed of when

    One issue that somewhat complicates things is that many manufacturers,
    especially of passive components, will only issue samples through their
    sales representatives in their area. You were talking about Vishay --
    they're one of those -- I last got some samples for 1% SMT caps in
    2004, and had to go through a rep because they were oddball parts that
    could only be ordered in 1K quantities. But since I'm in the Chicago
    area, there was a rep fairly close. I actually had a visit from those
    folks, and got the project together with their samples without problem.
    And they did get a "design win", although a small one. The customer's
    revised BOM had the Vishay P/N on their print, and they will buy a
    couple thousand of those parts a year. Their rep was not completely
    unhappy with the time spent.

    Obviously, there are ways to game the system. But, you have to ask
    yourself if it's worth it.

    1) The investment of your time is far more valuable than the cost of
    any gumball parts like a PIC ($2) or an LM317 ($0.75).

    2) You don't have any control over shipment on samples, because they're
    "free". You may wait long for a "free" sample, which has slowed you
    down by quite a bit. The loss of time is far more costly than the part
    itself in nearly all cases. If I need something now, I'll have it sent
    FedEx or second-day. I had a bitter example of this back in the '80s,
    when I had a project on hold for a couple of weeks waiting for a
    "sample" from a respected IC manufacturer. It didn't kill the project,
    or my job, but it was a lot closer than I'd like on both. I had an
    irrational bias against their parts for a while after that. They're
    now in the Digi-Key catalog, so I don't have to worry about stock or
    getting small quantities.

    3) If there are enough people gaming the system, the manufacturers
    will have to reevaluate their samples policy. It's a considerate thing
    to only go to the well when you have to.

    I'm not sure whether you're an electronics student or just a hobbyist.
    Either way, get out your screwdrivers and soldering iron, and have at
    every piece of electronics junk that comes your way. Once you've
    spread the word, all your friends and relatives will gladly save their
    "junk" for you rather than throw it out. You should soon have a
    bountiful supply of transformers, transistors, and passives limited
    only by your storage space and the time you have available. You might
    even learn something about construction techniques, and if you're
    lucky, you may be able to start fixing some of the stuff. That's
    another part of your electronics education.

    The costs you're incurring by going to the well and scrounging samples
    are greater than the money you're saving. Even if you work at
    MickeyD's, your time is more valuable.

    Good luck
  6. In general, I don't see that much to comment on -- good overview.

    There are still several very good sources for small quantities of
    parts that most hobbyists can reasonably need access to, such as BG
    Micro, Digikey, Mouser, and so on. Unlike the case I now find myself
    in, regarding finding suppliers for various kinds of hobbyist
    quantities of raw, unfinished optical glasses, the electronics
    industry continues to have good distribution channels that are
    supportive of hobbyists. Fewer, perhaps, than two or three decades
    ago, and largely centralized and non-local for most of us (local
    store-fronts are finding that part of the business too expensive to
    stay active in, now) -- but better in some ways and still very, very
    supportive. Digikey has a $25 minimum, without an extra ordering
    charge (last I checked on it, anyway.) But that is a reasonable
    minimum. You almost can't buy a dinner out for that, anymore.

    I guess the upshot of that is there isn't really a need to scarfing up
    free parts from manufacturers, unless you cannot otherwise buy the
    parts in any small quantity from anyone and they are unique and you
    need one for your hobby needs. In those cases, you must do what you
    have to do (ask for samples) or else try and get enough folks
    interested in the idea to make a group buy of the parts, so that it
    becomes worth the distribution chain's trouble. In some cases, you'll
    never be able to get there. (For example, there are some absolutely
    wonderful parts for hobbyist use that are a 16x16 grid of three-color
    bright LEDs at 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm spacings, with fantastic capabilities
    in current control, pwm brightness control, etc., etc. But they are
    specialized and bought by only a few key customers in huge quantities
    and are _never_ sold through distribution channels, at all. I've got
    a sack or two of them by working on testing systems for the
    manufacturers.) And that's life, too.

    Chris, your point about the value of your time is pretty good, too.
    Years back, parts cost more and labor less, as a general ratio. And
    it would definitely help to get free parts. But today, with labor
    expensive and parts so darned cheap and capable, its about right that
    one should just buy them and get about the business of learning. That
    pays off big.

    When I went to school, I had to work jobs to pay for everything -- I
    had no help from family, at all (too poor.) So I paid for my place to
    stay, paid for my schooling, paid for my food, etc., and worked jobs
    while attending school. In that context, I would have definitely
    asked for free parts, as every single dime meant something to me, and
    having access to more parts would have meant I could have been more
    exposed to learning. Paying for them would have also meant spending
    more time working to get that money, so I'd lose time and money in the
    trade. But things are probably enough different today that this
    equation wouldn't nearly so much favor seeking free parts rather than
    just buying them.

    That's all I have to add, though.

  7. Most all firms now seem to offer them as a matter of course. Though until
    recently, trying to get anything out of them was like pulling teeth.
    From a design-for-production point of view though and having been burnt once
    too often, I'd be wary of using anything that isn't easily available from a
    Only device sample I've ever requested was a DDS from Analog. Resulted in a
    fascinating phone conversation with a Mr Chris Heapy and samples turning up
    2 days later!.
  8. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    Not true.

    I've never had problems with getting samples, but maybe it's because
    I wasn't interested in, say, a dead-ended application where I was
    interested in controlling my garage door and I wanted to get the
    chips for free.
    What do you mean by "having been burnt once too often"?

    If you have an application which is even marginally marketable,
    obtaining samples doesn't usually present a problem.

    If it does, then just buy what you need and get on with it.
  9. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    You may be embarrassed when the sales rep calls you
    to discuss your application, and figures out that you
    are not a prospective sales lead.

    Best regards,

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator
  10. Chris

    Chris Guest

    Hi, Jonathan. You're right about the tradeoff. I remember the first
    time I miswired the LM317 (pinout IN, ADJ, OUT, BOOM) and had to get an
    emergency replacement on a Saturday. I paid over $8 for the part, when
    the minimum wage was two-something. The OP can get an LM317K from
    Mouser for $0.65, where the minimum wage is $5.15, and more in most
    states. It just isn't worth the time to scrounge for gumball parts any
    more. And Mouser (which has gotten much better for this kind of thing
    the past several years) has much more lenient rules about minimums than
    Digi-Key, and I believe they will even ship Parcel Post for the most
    patient of churchmice among us, although they don't publicise this, for
    obvious reasons.

    I kind of wish I had half your gumption during my misspent churchmouse
    youth. But I scrounged for any components I could get for free, too.
    The economics were different. Note that I alluded to "gaming the
    system" for free samples above, but didn't go into any detail. Further
    defendant sayeth not. ;-)

  11. My "recently" means about 5-7 years ago. A little less recently (say 10
    years) it was 'God how I hate the taste of suede', when looking to get
    even basic datasheet info from the sales people. (maybe just a UK thing?)
    By selecting on (say) newly arrived, tasty, interesting, neat, price
    sensitive, problem solving type components. Building a new product around
    said items, then after a few months, noticing the makers silently
    withdrawing said items.
    My "once too often" was actually a new Philips, 16 bit ADC chip ('96).
    Tempco spec' subsequently proved to come from planet Zog. We wasted hundreds
    of manhours bodging the kit to meet type approval testing and eventual
    redesign using a trustworthy ADC.
    Philips denied all knowledge and gave us the runaround. For one off bits of
    kit I can live with it. If it jeopardises a product range and people's jobs
    it's thoroughly inexcusable.
  12. Good to know.
    I remember when our first (and so far, last) tornado came through the
    area and demolished a bowling alley at one corner of a four-corner
    store area in a farm-like area I lived (lots of cows, fields, woods,
    etc.) It had made a nice little stripe down the hills earlier where
    you could see trees knocked down leading up to the area, but it
    apparently lifted at some point and then came back down right on this
    corner area. Blew out the windows on an Albertson's store on another
    corner. Etc. Anyway, I immediately tracked down and called the owner
    of the bowling alley, while the building was still a wreck the next
    day (a Sunday, I think, or it seemed like that to me being in high
    school, at the time) and begged for permission to go through the
    wreckage and find parts. I got it!

    It was a wonderful bonanza for me.

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