Little Padded Envelopes from China

Hardly a week goes by without some little padded envelopes in my mailbox. 16×2 LCD character displays, 74HCT541 IC’s, 6mm encoders, some 10mm spirit levels, a couple more ESP-01 modules, and that is just this last month. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, there is no place I can buy electronic components. I must order everything.

Little Padded Envelopes from China
Little Padded Envelopes from China
Those envelopes often arrive from places like Hong Kong and Shenzen, China. I find them on my desk where Deb just drops the latest little shipment from the other side of the planet.

The surreal part of this is that it is even conceivable that it would be cost effective to buy components from halfway around the globe like this. Not only is it affordable, but it is easy. It is easy to locate the correct components , it is easy to pay for the items, and it is easy to ship the parts across oceans.

Just a few years ago, buying products like this would have indeed been an insurmountable challenge, now it is routine. The internet and electronic storefronts like eBay that make shopping easy.

Electronic payment networks, notably PayPal, that make payment easy. And a global shipping network capable of getting those little padded envelopes to the correct location. For anyone familiar with history these networks are simply stunning in their capability, something inconceivable even a few decades ago.

Some would question the quality of components from China. You do need to be careful, but unlike cheap consumer goods, electronics components are usually quite acceptable in quality. I have had very little trouble ordering from Asia, the items perform as advertised.

I would probably not order from China if building life support equipment. For my little electronics projects the stuff works. Just check the seller’s ratings and record, then press ‘Buy it Now’.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

2 thoughts on “Little Padded Envelopes from China”

  1. I do this too. The latency of shipping (generally >2 weeks) enables me to be surprised at whatever new packet of components turns up in my mailbox. It’s also impressive that most of these shipments get routed from China to the US mainland and then back to HI. I’m forever impressed that they can eke out a profit on a package I paid $5 total for.

    Also, since Radio Shack closed, I’ve become more proactive at keeping a supply of components I might need. Usually when I start a project, I don’t feel like waiting a few weeks.

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