The bad news is that New York City has very few storefront outlets for electronics. If you need a last minute component, you don’t have many options. Tinkersphere carries some parts, but don’t rely on them. Your better option is to plan in advance and order online. You’ll end up buying most of your electronic components online, so plan shipping time into your project planning. You may find this video about online electronics vendors and this video on how to use Octopart helpful as well. Here are some of our regular sources:
Digikey is our default supplier for many parts. They ship to much of the world, and they carry parts from many of the companies below as well, so they’re a useful one-stop shop. They are one of a handful of large distributors of bulk electronic components. These distributors are not aimed at the hobbyist market, and their sites can seem a bit daunting at first, but they’re very useful as you get to know how to shop. Mouser, Jameco, and Newark are also very good.
Octopart is a useful search engine to hit them all.
Sparkfun has a wide range of components and modules to solve many common physical computing tech challenges. Based in Colorado, they’re also pretty fast on shipping, and good with the customer service. Their tutorials are good too.
Adafruit is based in NYC and has many components and modules that work well for this class. A ground-based shipment from Adafruit will often arrive before a two-day shipment from other retailers. Their customer service on shipments is good, and their tutorials are quite good too.
Seeed Studio has some really interesting components. They ship large orders free from Shenzen, China, but shipping isn’t always fast that way. You can pay for expedited shipping though.
Pololu has a number of good parts, particularly for motors and robotics
Solarbotics is good for motors and motor support components, but carries a range of other components as well.
Bourns makes knobs and switches for guitars and other musical instruments.
Grand Brass makes lamp parts and has an excellent site for figuring out what parts are called.
SuperBrightLEDs sells a number of components related to LED lighting
McMaster-Carr supplies every piece of hardware you can imagine, and has a very good (and forgiving) search engine. They are in New Jersey, so stuff gets here fast when you order from them.
Prince Lumber carries wood in various forms. They’re located at 404 West 15th Street on the corner of 9th Avenue & 15th Street.
The Container Store carries a wide range of containers that can be useful as project enclosures, and they’re generally cheaper than buying electronics-specific enclosures. There are a few locations in New York. The closest is on 6th Ave near 18th St.
Canal Plastic carries plexiglas and acrylic in various forms. It’s fastest to go there in person. They are located at 345 Canal Street.
Canal Rubber carries a variety of rubber and neoprene stock items. They’re also on Canal St., 329 Canal St at Greene St.
There are also surplus houses that sell overstock and discontinued items. While they don’t always have the same thing in stock all the time, they’re good sources of discount deals and hard to find items. All Electronics, Electronics Goldmine, and Herbach and Rademan are examples of these. Surplus Shed has everything. Really. From optics to electronics to chemistry tools, they have it.