Geeky phototour of Shenzhen

I'm really taken with hardware hacker Tom Igoe's photoset from his geek tour of Shenzhen, the legendary high-tech city that borders Hong Kong. Tom really captures a wide swath of the city, from the shacks to the circuit boards -- the faces as well as the factories.

Shenzen, China, Feb 08


  1. I want to know way more about the dozens of flea-market-like tables covered with chips or LCD screens or switches. Are these just random surplus parts like I’d find at Apex Electronics in LA, or are they manufacturers’ samples indicating that each model can be had in quantity?

  2. NIXIEBUNNY, they’re mostly manufacturers samples, but not always. There were some stalls I saw in the SEG building that had older (mostly through-hole) components, and these were what you’d call random surplus. Most stalls sold new components, though. I didn’t have any trouble buying small quantities, but some of the offices (especially in one of the buildings across the road from SEG) looked like they were set up only for large bulk deals.

    When I could get over the language barrier, I got good service. At one stall I asked for 10 of a particular micro, and they sent a runner to go and fetch them from another building. At another, I spotted a resistive touch panel in the display case, was offered a very cheap price, and decided to purchase it even though it looked like it was old stock. The stall owner then proceeded to pull out a whole box of the things from under the desk, and sold me a brand new one. I asked if she also sold the required 1mm FPC connectors, and she just gave me a couple for no extra charge.

  3. Aargh, I dunno why I did not go there when I went to HK. Well, a lot of devices were being sold cheap in HK too so I guess I never found the reason to visit Shenzen. Big mistake on my part.

  4. Nice to see one country, where merchants have enough trust into their costumers to sell SD-cards without putting boxes of roughly 3000 times their volume around them. (And then complain about lack of shelf-space, transport costs etc.)

  5. I buy a lot of electronic parts for repairs or projects. Prices locally are about 10X to 20X higher than the same part airmailed from Shenzhen. For the price of a single transistor from the retailer across town I can sometimes buy 25 of them from a seller in Shenzhen, and the shipping is cheaper than the gas cost to drive across town. How does anyone make money selling 25 transistors for 99 cents plus $2.50 shipping?
    OTOH, I ship a lot of electronics to Southeast Asia, but it’s all mid century American vacuum tube consumer audio gear, which is another story entirely.

  6. I am surprised at the low sizes of the memory being sold. Usually, here in shenzhen, I have to wade through buckets of 500+ gigabyte thumb drives.

    I took a picture of my favorite, Terabyte Thumb drive:

    The vendors will even load sneaky programs, so that when they plug them in a computer, a windows 95- e s q u e browser window will pop up showing:

    Free Space: 1000 gigabyte

    Over on hua qiang bei however, you might have better luck finding real stuff, and can get anything electronic fixed or rebuilt for incredibly cheap!


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