by Danny Staple

A common question from readers of Robotics at Home with Raspberry Pi Pico is why I recommend stores like Pimoroni, Adafruit and The Pi Hut over the generic items on Alibaba and AliExpress.

In this post, lets discuss why I prefer those stores, but also get into an AliExpress shopping list that covers the items the book needs (or close enough). I try here to stick to items that are like-for-like that do not vary far from the book recommendations.

Why Local Shops

When it comes to buying parts for your projects, there are many options available. While online shops like AliExpress may offer cheaper prices, they often come with unexpected shipping costs and the possibility of customs/tax duties. Additionally, the authenticity of parts from AliExpress may be questionable, which can be a concern for some ecosystems like the Raspberry Pi Pico.

For these reasons, it may be better to consider local shops that are still online but within your country or continent. This can ensure faster shipping times, predictable costs, and reliable customer support. Shops like Pimoroni and Adafruit have built strong reputations for excellent customer service, and they are especially helpful for beginners who may need assistance with unfamiliar parts or wiring.

While AliExpress may offer a wider selection of items, it may be best suited for experienced buyers who are willing to deal with the unpredictable elements that come with it. As for me, I prefer to recommend to my readers the peace of mind that comes with buying from local shops, even if it means paying a bit more.

The shopping list

I will be using GBP to show the costs here. The parts are usually available in most countries.

Robot parts

Name Cost Count Total
Raspberry Pi Pico £1.07 1 £1.07
Breadboard £1.65 1 £1.65
TB66112 FNG Module £2.42 1 £2.42
5V 3A Ubec £1.43 1 £1.43
8 x AA switched battery compartment £2.09 1 £2.09
N20 Gear motors with encoders 298:1 (50 RPM) £4.23 2 £8.46
Ball castor £1.61 1 £1.61
Wheels £0.23 2 £0.46
VL53L1X Sensors £2.51 2 £5.02
BNO055 Sensor £10.50 1 £10.50
Motor brackets £0.11 2 £0.22

Section Total: £34.93

Plus shipping: £50.91


Name Cost Count Total
Precut Jumper Wire £0.41 1 £0.41
1n5817 Schottky diode £0.50 1 £0.50
3mm styrene sheets £3.24 1 £3.24
Standoff/hex kit M2.5 and M3 £8.54 1 £8.54
Pin headers £0.69 1 £0.69
10-20mm hook and loop (Velcro) self adhesive discs £0.88 1 £0.88
Some solder (60-40 or lead free flux core) £3.21 1 £3.21

Section total: £17.47

Subtotal: £52.40

Plus shipping: £75.42


Name Cost Count Total
Acrylic sheet cutter £1.40 1 £1.40
Cutting mat £5.54 1 £5.54
Try Square, metal, metric £0.60 1 £0.60
Metric Metal ruler min 200mm - Covered by the above item 1
Sandpaper, selection of 400, 600 and 1000 grit £7.39 1 £7.39
Temperature controlled soldering iron £7.43 1 £7.43
Soldering iron stand - Covered by the above item 1
Brass wool soldering tip cleaner (optional) £2.97 1 £2.97
Pin vice drill, with 2mm and 3mm bits £2.30 1 £2.30
Tiny Metric wrench set £7.48 1 £7.48
Screwdrivers: Philips PH0, Ph1 and flat bladed 2mm/3mm. £4.82 1 £4.82
USB Micro Data Cable £1.54 1 £1.54

Section total: £41.47

Subtotal: £93.87

Plus shipping: £140.38

Optional Items

Name Cost Count Total
Dupont Crimp Kit £11.43 1 £11.43
Crimping tool - covered by the above 1

Section total: £11.43

Subtotal: £105.30

Plus shipping: £155.12


We have a considerable saving here. Given that the UK shopping list came to £311.72, this is less than half the price. There is clearly a tradeoff, in quality, any support, and certainty on when it will arrive.