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Art & Tech Resources

This is a list of essential resources that are specifically chosen for creating and developing technolgy-based art projects. This list includes suppliers, how-to information on building projects, reference sources, and guidance for turning your ideas into a finished product. If you find a valuable source to share, please tell us, at


Technology as art: Artists

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The Techshop
What a brilliant idea. The Techshop is a facility (located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) that has everything you need to build your projects. You pay a monthly fee and you get to use lathes, mills, plasma cutters, sheet metal equipment, a 3D printer and seemingly everything you could possibly need. They also include classes, and 3D workstations. Plus, it's great being around smart, competent, and enthusiastic people. Check them out for sure.
The Crucible
This Oakland-based organization teaches industrial grade fire arts, such as welding and smelting, has frequent fire-based performances, and has great pyrotechnic/fire/high-voltage theatrical events. This is where you go to learn about art that is hot. And they have many showcase events.
What a fun site. These people have put together a site with tons of how to build it projects - from hundreds of people - and lots of discussion. Most of the projects are not all that technical. But they sure are fun. However, there is a whole tech section of how to build something quickly and easily. Very creative.
Make Magazine is an online site for a vast array of DIY projects. They also host a number of Maker Faires around the US. Totally fun.
The Crucible

:: Electronics ::

This is one the most popular mailorder source for everyday electronic components. They have almost everything.
This is a great site for protoyping your custom projects. They include books, resources, classes, and supplies. They're big on Arduino and XBee-based projects and include every detail on how to build finished projects. The skill set ranges from beginning soldering, to autonomous aircraft. Yeah! They sell cool electronics parts such as tiny GPS, SBCs, and SMT ICs. Really fine folks, too!
Making Things
Another great site. MakingThings provides software and electronics tools for those who are creating projects that interact with the physical world. Their products include parts for making interactive art exhibitions, product prototypes, educational tools, interactive kiosks & displays, DIY & hobby projects, and custom control systems. Check out their Projects section.
This is a free PC Board layout and design program that includes an autorouter and schematic capture. Itís not perfect, but itís fine for most projects. It's also easy to learn. We've used it for our projects.
Team Delta
They are really into building combat robotics for many years. So, these guys know a lot.
Robot Market Place
They have a lot of very cool things, including some custom devices focusing on robotics and R/C devices.
Wind Sun
They have an excellent guide to all types of batteries and how to charge and take care of them.
Evil Mad Scientist
They sell AVR related devices, alphanumeric displays, Large LED panels, and low cost super bright LEDs.
They sell a tiny ultrasonic rangefinder.
Super Bright LEDs
They have a very nice diffused T1 3/4 (5mm) RGB LED. I've used these for a lot of things and they are good and inexpensive. Yet, for variable color work, be sure to get the diffused RGB LED - the clear ones don't mix colors very well. If you are using the 13 RGB LED controller, be sure to order only the common Anode RGB LED -- common cathode will not work (either will work with the mRGB LED, although it defaults to common Anode). Also, if you are going for high power, they have some nice XLamp 1 watt LEDs. These are not RGB LEDs, so they require a lot more power than either of the RGB LED controllers can provide. But with a power amp and some mixing, they emit a lot of light.
Easy to use, powerful and affordable schematic capture and printed circuit board design package. It's called Eagle, which is a popular and excellent program for designing PCBs. They have a free version for hobbyists. See a review of it here:
These folks produce a really nifty high-power RGB LEDs. This thing is incredibly bright -- by stats, at least 10x as bright as the SuperBright RGB LEDs, but I think it's higher. They require a lot of power and absolutely must have a heat sink (they get incredibly hot and will fry themselves in just a few minutes without one). But for lighting up big things and color washes, they are hard to beat.
They have an RGB LED PIC serial controller board. It includes the components and details of how to build it.
Vvvv is a great program for generating real time video synthesis, such as VJ needs. It is designed to facilitate the handling of large media environments with physical interfaces, real-time motion graphics, and audio and video. Check out the examples on Vimeo and Youtube to get an idea of what you can do with it.
LED Tronics
Here is another excellent source of RGB LEDs
Advanced Component Electronics
This is where you buy specific components right of the shelf. They are located in San Jose, CA.
Bob Blick
A PIC (which is a tiny single board computer) Programmer. Bob Blick is an ex-teacher and his site has working electronics projects such as PIC processor, servo motor drivers, etc. A great site for building your own tiny computer/controller.
They sell a single board x86 computer that consumes 6W, and uses an AMD GX2-466 Processor.
They sell a single board x86 computer, the Via Eden Processor.
Here's where you can buy a small single board x86 computer.
Apex Electronic
This is one of my most favorite electronics surplus places in LA. If you go there, plan on spending a long time. That's where we get our missile parts, helicopter blades, X-ray machines, and things that must of had some strange and important purposes here on earth.
Junk Tronic
He's compiled a nice list of Silicon Valley surplus stores.
Alameda County Computer Resource Center
Electronic Surplus store in the Bay Area.
Electronic surplus/recycling store in the SF Bay Area (Oakland).
Weird Stuff
Weird Stuff in Sunnyvale, CA (mostly old computer parts)
ACE Components
ACE in San Jose, CA (mostly components)
Excess Solutions
Excess Solutions in Milpitas, CA. They sell hardware, power supplies, larger components, and have a good fan collection)
Demo Board
Anchor electronics. It's small but well organized. Many components are behind the counter. And they have $1 bags of switches and inductors.
Team Novak
Suppliers of R/C electronic controls and motors.
Battery Space
Small batteries.
Gum Stix
Robotics Wifi pack.
Electric Scooter Parts
Horns to headlights and motors
Layout pgm links, downloads and data.
Grand Idea Studio
This site has some excellent, small, and inexpensive electronic devices that ca help you with your projects. Some of the products include a tiny GPS module, an RFID reader, a text to speech module, and more.
NYC Resistor
This is an ďopen project spaceď where hackers can get together and build electronic/mechanical stuff. Itís a great idea and there are other places in the US where this is happening. See their other links.
Reasonably priced source for electronics components, ICs, prototyping boards, power supplies, etc.
Large electronics distributer
Halted Specialties Co. (HSC)
An old fashioned surplus electronics store with parts including computer and ham radio junk located in Silicon Valley. It's OK.
Another large electronics supply distributor. They are OK with large projects.
Another good electronics distributor