How to get electronic components for free

How many times did you want to start your own project and you couldn't do it just because you didn't have the money or because it was too expensive? Everybody knows that build your own electronic or robotic laboratory isn't cheap, and most people that like to do this, it does it just for the fun of it.
So, if you want to fill your laboratory with electronic components, or if you want some just to start your first project and you don't want to pay for them, there's a way to get them for free.

There are a pretty big number of companies that give you a limited quantity of samples so you can test the components in your project. These samples are the same that you buy anywhere.

Why would they do that?

It's very simple; if they give you 5 free samples of a microcontroller, and you use that component in your project and it works fine; once you start producing the device you built, you will produce it by the thousands, and that translates to them as thousands of microcontrollers sold. So, if you think about it, it's just a little investment they do for the future.

Where can I get them?

There are many companies giving free sample, from the smallest company to the biggest. You can search for any electronic components manufacturer and look on the web page if there's the magic word 'Samples'. But I will give a list of the biggest companies that I know give the samples.

The first one and one of my favorites: MicrochipMicrochip www.microchip.com
Microchip develops a variety of components, but my favorites are the PIC microcontrollers; here you can get free samples from the PIC16F84 to the new DSPICs(sometimes not all the models are available for sample). At the moment of the writing of this tutorial, the maximum quantity of microcontrollers you can get in microchip is 3 of 2 different microcontrollers (6 chips). But for other devices as RAM memory, converters, etc, you can get more. The only thing you have to pay is the shipping and handling that is $7.50(USD).
The second one, and not less important is Maxim Integrated ProductsMAXIM Integrated products www.maxim-ic.com, or just MAXIM (not the men's magazine). Maxim lets you ask a big quantity and variety of components and it doesn't charge you anything. At Maxim's web site you can request amplifiers, comparators, data converters, digital potentiometers, microcontrollers, etc. Not all the components, or all the versions of the components are available, but most of them are. To request samples you just have to sign up on the web site, search for the components and find the magic word "sample".

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