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'[EE] Hanging file-folder parts storage'
2007\11\18@114841 by Peter Todd

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On the physical side of organizing stocks on components...

I've been reorganizing my parts storage for components and spare pcb's
by buying two office filing cabinets with hanging file folders. One
folder per mfg part #, arranged alphabetically. The parts just get
dropped in, usually in the trays they come in, sometimes (for stuff I
got as samples) after being pushed into anti-static foam. Most of the
time for the labels I just cut out the labels Digikey puts on them. I've
currently got two pull out drawers with about 100 parts each for general
items, a third drawer with just over 20 folders dedicated to PIC chips
and a fourth with PCB's and more traditional receipts/invoices and the
like.

Been using this for the past few weeks now. It's really easy to find
parts, assumming you know what you are looking for. If you don't the
digikey labels have a decent amount of info on them so it's not so bad
to search manually. I also find that like parts end up together, simply
due to similar part numbers. Adding new parts is similarly easy, grab an
unused folder, put a label on it and plop it into place. No need to move
anything to keep it ordered like with those pull out drawer units.

I don't plan to make any sort of master inventory. I'm guessing that
since the only user is me if I want to know how much stuff I have it'd
be less work to just open the drawers and look, rather than trying to
keep anything up to date. For pricing if I'm using something from my
stocks good accounting would say that I should be pricing based on it's
replacement cost, not what I bought it for. So go off to digikey, do up
an order sheet and see what it says. Besides in general, I don't keep
big inventories of valuable stuff, the only exception being DS3231's and
DS32khz's which have a long lead time and some PIC chips where I've
standardized on a small number of types, and there is a large price
difference between singles and buying 25. Even then I'd rather stay away
from that as stocks tie up a lot of capital, and are a downright waste
if the parts become obselete. I've got a bunch of SOIC 16lf819's for
instance that I'm regretting buying.

The main thing I don't like about the setup is that the depth of a
standard letter sized file folder is far more than nearly every part I
have in them. I could easilly halve that depth and be happy. I've got
the occasional deeper part, like large leds and lcd's, but they could
easilly go in their own drawer. Making custom shallow file folders would
be pretty easy, just cut 'em short and staple the bottoms, but getting
drawers for it would be more involved. Kitchen cabinet stuff or cheap
clothes drawers might work if I fabricate hanging rails for it, though
ironically right now my clothes drawer in my apartment is a office
filing cabinet.

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\11\19@172014 by James Newton

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Don't you find that the smaller parts eventually fall out the sides or fall
out when the folder is pulled out of the cabinet?

Other than that, it sounds like a really interesting solution. I've been
using the standard little plastic bins but it is hard to keep in any logical
order and locating a part can be difficult.

I'll have to consider this further...

--
James.

{Original Message removed}

2007\11\19@201927 by Peter Todd

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On Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 02:20:49PM -0800, James Newton wrote:
> Don't you find that the smaller parts eventually fall out the sides or fall
> out when the folder is pulled out of the cabinet?

I was worried about that, but in practice it rarely happens. In the
filing cabinets I use there isn't much space between the sides of the
file folders and the walls, so I guess there isn't much opportunity for
the parts to find their way out. In any case everything is either in
bags, rails or attached to bulky chunks of anti-static foam anyway.

- --
http://petertodd.org
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'[EE] Hanging file-folder parts storage'
2007\12\01@053102 by Vitaliy
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Peter Todd wrote:
> On the physical side of organizing stocks on components...
>
> I've been reorganizing my parts storage for components and spare pcb's
> by buying two office filing cabinets with hanging file folders. One
> folder per mfg part #, arranged alphabetically.

Not too long ago we started applying the "put it in the filing cabinet"
approach to things that you would normally not think of putting there. :)

- We had an inventory of product samples, scattered all over the place. The
50 or so such items now reside in a single filing cabinet, and there's room
for about as many more.
- There was a box full of manuals for the various office equipment
(computers, shredders, label makers, etc) that we put in a filing cabinet.
- Software: a while back we bought the Stakka (computerized CD carousel).
It was never put to use for mechanical reasons, and now I don't think it
would have worked at all (what do you do with the manuals, jewel cases,
boxes?).

In each of the above cases, the stuff is sorted alphabetically. First by
manufacturer, then by product name/model. It's amazing how much less time it
now takes to find and retrieve an item, and the best thing of all is,
there's a lot less frustration -- you *know* it's in there somewhere, and
that eventually you will find it.

There are two simple rules to follow when setting up any kind of a filing
system (both rules are from David Allen's GTD book):

1. Keep simple alphabetical order throughout (NO categories).
2. One item per hanging file folder.

For electronic parts, we took a different approach (still work in progress).
We have a number of 60-drawer cabinets, with each occupied drawer labeled
with the contents and location (in grid format, row:column). Each cabinet is
also assigned a number.

There's also a spreadsheet sorted alphabetically, so you could scroll down
and find something like:

   Resistor, SMT, 1210, 0.5W, 510 ohm, 5:7:4

The last field specifies location, so you would locate cabinet #5, go down
to row 7, and pull the resistors out of the 4th drawer. For convenience, the
spreadsheet is also available as a hard copy next to the drawers.

The beauty of this system, is that just like Peter's filing system, it's
"random access". New parts are put in the first available drawer, we just
have to remember to update the Excel file when orders come in from Digikey.
Unlike paper files, however, the drawers are more convenient: they can be
pulled out and used during assembly. The system also addresses James's
concern regarding small parts falling out the sides of a file.

After some discussion, the general consensus is that keeping track of
quantities is not worth the trouble. When a BOM is generated for a project,
the person responsible would simply check which parts on the BOM are
available in-house, and order the rest. If it's an ongoing project (e.g.,
assembling small quantities of the same circuit on a regular basis),
inventory can be tracked for just that specific project, as opposed to
keeping track of all components on hand.

Hopefully others can find the system equally useful. :)

Vitaliy

2007\12\01@105715 by Forrest Christian

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James Newton wrote:
> Don't you find that the smaller parts eventually fall out the sides or fall
> out when the folder is pulled out of the cabinet?
>  
There are folders available with "walls"... the magic incantation is
"hanging pockets".

It also occurs to me that you could also use a standard hanging folder,
with a "file jacket" (or jackets) in each one.   A file jacket being a
standard file folder but with the sides not being open, so it's more
like an envelope made out of file folder material without a flap at the top.

There are also various other specialized hanging folder-compatible
accessories available such as hanging CD folders, etc.

I will have to think about this as well, as I have two file cabinents I
used to use for various manuals and product catalogs which are no longer
relevant, so one is completely empty (or could be made that way very
quickly), and I think the other has like two drawers used in it.

-forrest

2007\12\01@120238 by Cedric Chang

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I just use clear ziploc plastic bags of various sizes to put in the  
hanging folders.
Nothing falls out.
You can see into the bag.  You can write on the bag.
You can suck the air out of the bag.

Just don't have an infant do your filing.

Cedric


2007\12\03@100216 by Eoin Ross

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Wouldn't recycled anti-static bags be a better plan?

>>> spam_OUTccTakeThisOuTspamnope9.com 01 Dec 07 12:02:34 >>>
I just use clear ziploc plastic bags of various sizes to put in the  
hanging folders.
Nothing falls out.
You can see into the bag.  You can write on the bag.
You can suck the air out of the bag.

Just don't have an infant do your filing.

Cedric


2007\12\03@141300 by Cedric Chang

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Yes, although if you don't have anti-static bags,
anti-static foam ( and in a pinch, alum foil ) in side
the bags will get you by.
Cedric
{Quote hidden}

> --

2007\12\03@195643 by Nate Duehr

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Vitaliy wrote:
> Not too long ago we started applying the "put it in the filing cabinet"
> approach to things that you would normally not think of putting there. :)

As I was reading, I was thinking: "This sounds a lot like David Allen's
GTD organization system", then you said it was.

There's a lot of wisdom in just putting things alphabetically in filing
cabinets.

I find the harder discipline to be keeping up with GTD on my computer...
and filing things appropriately in the digital world like I've been
doing for some time now in the "paper" world.

Nate

2007\12\04@032016 by Vitaliy

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Nate Duehr
> I find the harder discipline to be keeping up with GTD on my computer...
> and filing things appropriately in the digital world like I've been
> doing for some time now in the "paper" world.

I too still find myself putting things in categories. I don't know what's
different about the computer world... for some reason, a lot of times I find
it easier to scribble on a piece of paper, and file that in a paper file,
than do the same thing with Notepad.

Do you imagine the strict alphabetical system working on a computer, even in
theory?

2007\12\04@040201 by Apptech

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> I too still find myself putting things in categories. I
> don't know what's
> different about the computer world... for some reason, a
> lot of times I find
> it easier to scribble on a piece of paper, and file that
> in a paper file,
> than do the same thing with Notepad.

Compromise - scribble on a piece of paper. Add a LARGE /
BOLD few index words. File in a temporary file. Then
occasionally photograph them one sheet per photo and copy to
PC in a reference folder. When you JUST KNOW it's there
somewhere you can skim the photos faster than a folder. If
something is extra interesting you can then add keywords to
the file name (quick and easy if photo browser OK)  so you
can then find with a directory search. Actually works :-).

I try to photograph most of my major receipts and file them
with meaningful names and keywords and warranty expiry
dates. Handy for finding a sales invoice when you want to
get something fixed subsequently.



       Russell

2007\12\04@181305 by Nate Duehr

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Vitaliy wrote:
> Nate Duehr
>> I find the harder discipline to be keeping up with GTD on my computer...
>> and filing things appropriately in the digital world like I've been
>> doing for some time now in the "paper" world.
>
> I too still find myself putting things in categories. I don't know what's
> different about the computer world... for some reason, a lot of times I find
> it easier to scribble on a piece of paper, and file that in a paper file,
> than do the same thing with Notepad.
>
> Do you imagine the strict alphabetical system working on a computer, even in
> theory?

I think I'd rather have both alphabetical (perhaps via some kind of
meta-tagging) and my "usual" category-based system on a PC.  But I
haven't figured out a consistent easy way to do that "every time" for
every file.

Nate

2007\12\04@200853 by Vitaliy

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> Compromise - scribble on a piece of paper. Add a LARGE /
> BOLD few index words. File in a temporary file. Then
> occasionally photograph them one sheet per photo and copy to
> PC in a reference folder. When you JUST KNOW it's there
> somewhere you can skim the photos faster than a folder. If
> something is extra interesting you can then add keywords to
> the file name (quick and easy if photo browser OK)  so you
> can then find with a directory search. Actually works :-).
>
> I try to photograph most of my major receipts and file them
> with meaningful names and keywords and warranty expiry
> dates. Handy for finding a sales invoice when you want to
> get something fixed subsequently.

Russell, do you have a real filing cabinet? Why not just file paper receipts
there?

2007\12\05@142651 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Vitaliy wrote:

> I too still find myself putting things in categories.

As long as you can assign multiple "categories" -- which would make them
more like keywords. I find fast (indexed) searches most useful. You just
need to make sure that the words you associate with a context are there,
somewhere. This usually also includes the word that you would usually use
for alphabetical filing.

> I don't know what's different about the computer world... for some
> reason, a lot of times I find it easier to scribble on a piece of paper,
> and file that in a paper file, than do the same thing with Notepad.

Again, an efficient search helps a lot. You don't have to worry about where
to file -- just file all the scribbles in a single location, but make sure
that it's part of your index and that you use the words in the scribble
that help you find it later.

> Do you imagine the strict alphabetical system working on a computer, even
> in theory?

No. And not in a filing cabinet, either, as many items belong to different
"words" and you can only file them under one. A receipt for example may
belong to a device (which has been bought), a manufacturer (of the device),
a project (for which it was bought), a client (who contracted the project),
a credit card (that has been used to pay it), a period (like a month, when
it has been bought)... you get the idea.

A good search is the answer for many issues.

Gerhard

2007\12\07@032811 by Vitaliy

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Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>> Do you imagine the strict alphabetical system working on a computer, even
>> in theory?
>
> No. And not in a filing cabinet, either, as many items belong to different
> "words" and you can only file them under one. A receipt for example may
> belong to a device (which has been bought), a manufacturer (of the
> device),
> a project (for which it was bought), a client (who contracted the
> project),
> a credit card (that has been used to pay it), a period (like a month, when
> it has been bought)... you get the idea.
>
> A good search is the answer for many issues.

Does this mean that you digitize/OCR all your receipts?

2007\12\09@135046 by Nate Duehr

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On Dec 5, 2007, at 11:38 AM, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

>> Do you imagine the strict alphabetical system working on a  
>> computer, even
>> in theory?
>
> No. And not in a filing cabinet, either, as many items belong to  
> different
> "words" and you can only file them under one. A receipt for example  
> may
> belong to a device (which has been bought), a manufacturer (of the  
> device),
> a project (for which it was bought), a client (who contracted the  
> project),
> a credit card (that has been used to pay it), a period (like a  
> month, when
> it has been bought)... you get the idea.

Actually, if the filing cabinet is just yours (not a community filing  
cabinet) the idea behind GTD's theory works well.   The theory is that  
you file alphabetically under the first "word" that comes to mind.  
The idea is that the same word will always be the strongest  
association with that object (and finding it in the filing cabinet  
later) in your own head.

I was skeptical at first, but I converted over my home filing cabinet  
to "first word that comes to mind or describes this thing" over a year  
ago, and I have found it easier to find things that have been filed,  
and easier to remember what's in there -- refreshing those memories  
only takes a quick glance in each drawer at the words once in a while,  
which happens naturally while looking for other things.  Quite elegant.

The part the theory and book leave out that helps even more, is in  
keeping certain things together in the same area that are very  
specific -- things like bills/bank statements.  Those got a separate  
drawer and are filed by the business name, and inside each file/
hanging folder they're in chronological order.  That was more  
intuitive than just filing by name, of course, for those documents.

--
Nate Duehr
natespamKILLspamnatetech.com



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