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'[EE] organizing your stash'
2010\12\23@073259 by Olin Lathrop

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Oli Glaser wrote:
> That is a problem with electronics though - so many tiny little parts
> to keep track of...

The answer is lots of small parts cabinets.  I like Akro Mils 10164, which
have 64 little drawers each.  I just checked and that model seems to have
been replaced by 10764, although it's not obvious what changed from the
description.

I'm looking at our wall of parts, and we have five 10164 in use with another
20 or so of other types.  We have another eight 10164 in boxes ready for
expansion.  These things are not expensive, even for hobbyists.  1 3/4 x 1/2
inch labels fit nicely on the individual drawers.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

2010\12\23@091749 by Oli Glaser

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On 23/12/2010 12:33, Olin Lathrop wrote:
> Oli Glaser wrote:
>> That is a problem with electronics though - so many tiny little parts
>> to keep track of...
> The answer is lots of small parts cabinets.  I like Akro Mils 10164, which
> have 64 little drawers each.  I just checked and that model seems to have
> been replaced by 10764, although it's not obvious what changed from the
> description.
>
> I'm looking at our wall of parts, and we have five 10164 in use with another
> 20 or so of other types.  We have another eight 10164 in boxes ready for
> expansion.  These things are not expensive, even for hobbyists.  1 3/4 x 1/2
> inch labels fit nicely on the individual drawers.
>

They look pretty good - we already have a few similar cabinets from RS which are reasonable quality ( just not enough.. :-)  )
Main problem really is lack of space in current workroom, though we are looking at moving to a different site very nearby quite soon - already set up with huge workbench and can accommodate three people a lot more easily. So the space problem will be solved pretty soon, just need a load more cabinets - I checked for the ones you mention above and they are quite a bit cheaper(than our current ones) but unfortunately I can't find any in the UK, will have to have a shop around and see what I can find.

2010\12\23@093754 by Mike Harrison

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On Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:17:15 +0000, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Jellybean stuff like SM resistors and caps are generally in long enough tapes that a binder solution
works well. Farnell sell spare binder pages for their resistor kits which are ideal. http://uk.farnell.com/multicomp/mcinsert-chipkit/file-insert-component-storage-pk5/dp/5412067?Ntt=5412067

However these are only good for 8mm wide tape, and only lengths long enough not to get lost down the
long cavities. Iin the past I've also used film negative and baseball card binders.

For through-hole parts  with relatively few values, e.g. capacitors, electrolytics, common
transistors, trimmers etc., Raaco and similar assorter boxes work well, but compartment boxes don't
work well with SMD tapes

That leaves all the ICs and other more random parts which are a collection of SM and DIP, in tapes,
tubes, sample boxes, bags and loose, in typical qtys from 1 to 20 per type.

Over the years, I've distilled  the storage criteria down as follows :
1) You want to store them by type/function per box (e.g. RS232 drivers, voltage regulators, 74HC
CMOS, opamps etc.), not by individual part numbers as there are too many different types.
2) The container must be reasonably long in at least one dimension to accommodate tapes and cut-down
tubes
3) The container must be reasonably shallow so you can stack lots of them in a reasonable space, and
can easily see parts at the bottom
4) Need to be able to quickly find parts within a container
5) Need to be able to just chuck parts into the right box when clearing up after a project but be
able to  find them easily later
6) Cheap - I need at least 40-50 of them to cover the range of parts I want to store.
7) Need to be continuously available, so you can expand as required. or cheap enough to buy plenty
of spare.

2 precludes almost every type of cheap very small plastic box - e.g. jewelery display/sample  boxes
etc.
4 and 5 preclude boxes full of poly bags - too fiddly & just ends up as a mess.
6 Precludes most of the stuff specifically targetted at the electronics industry

So just a basic undivided wide, shallow plastic box   with a lid of some sort, into which I can put
a  sheet of conductive foam to hold DIPs. Once you've lined the bottom with conductive foam, the box
itself doesn't need to be anything exotic like antistatic. Clear is nice, but not essential.
Not hard to find you'd think... actually surprisingly so!

I recently stumbled upon these, which are pretty much perfect :
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/5-x-PEEL-OFF-STICKER-BOXES-PLASTIC-STORAGE-CONTAINERS-/390229081229?pt=UK_Crafts_StickersScraps_Decoupage_SM

2010\12\23@093841 by Mark E. Skeels

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****
The answer is lots of small parts cabinets.
****

Over the years I have ended up with a lot of small qty parts from development and sampling. I really don't want to throw them away, but they don't fit into our normal inventory.

I am assuming, Olin, that you do not inventory any production qtys, but are always dealing with parts for prototypes, as I mostly am.

Does your system take care of these kinds of things, or is it aimed more at general inventory?

Can you store typical small qty. antistatic bags of parts, such as would arrive if you order say 10 pcs of a typical semi from DigiKey?

Do you have a drawer for each value/size smt passive, like caps and resistors, say 0604? In my experience, that is a lot of drawers....

About how many different items would be in this section of your inventory?

Do you have any particular system for accumulating/storing parts for individual projects, or do you just expand your existing area when you add new parts to a design?

Mark Skeels
Engineer
Competition Electronics, Inc.
TEL: 815-874-8001
FAX: 815-874-8181
http://www.competitionelectronics.com

2010\12\23@100657 by Oli Glaser

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On 23/12/2010 14:37, Mike Harrison wrote:
> On Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:17:15 +0000, you wrote:
> Jellybean stuff like SM resistors and caps are generally in long enough tapes that a binder solution
> works well. Farnell sell spare binder pages for their resistor kits which are ideal.
> http://uk.farnell.com/multicomp/mcinsert-chipkit/file-insert-component-storage-pk5/dp/5412067?Ntt=5412067

Think I'll grab some of those - my SMD caps/resistors are the worst organised, mostly just stored in a box and I have to rummage through hundreds of packets to find the right value..

{Quote hidden}

Some very good points/info there, thanks - often the divisions/dimensions with boxes are not required, so having an undivided clear box would come in handy. In fact a large shallow drawer(s) lined with conductive foam would be great for ICs, something like you may use to store artwork (e.g. an architects desk or suchlike) Will do a bit of goggling...


2010\12\23@102236 by Philip Pemberton

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On 23/12/10 14:37, Mike Harrison wrote:
> However these are only good for 8mm wide tape, and only lengths long enough not to get lost down the
> long cavities. Iin the past I've also used film negative and baseball card binders.

At the moment, I cut these into either mini-spools of 50 or 100 parts, or strips of 5, 10 or 20, then bag them in small zip-seal bags (Maplin P/N JK77).

These small bags then go inside Raaco A45, A46 or A32 assorter boxes.

I also have several Tesco plastic shoe boxes and Poundstretcher (erm, inStore) 40-litre "under-bed" boxes. You can get two or three of the Tesco shoe-boxes inside a single Poundstretcher 40l box, which makes for nice subdivisions for parts which are too large to put in zip-seal bags, but too small to have in a box on their own.

The icing on the cake is my stock-management database, ISIS. This helps me keep track of the parts I have in stock at a given point in time, and what they are. Datasheet storage and price-paid information are on the "to-do" list.

Axial through-hole parts on paper tapes are stored in Maplin SF05 Component Storage Boxes. These boxes have movable dividers, and when split into a 3x6 array can store 18 different values/types of part. The compartments in this configuration are perfectly sized for T/H resistors and similar.

> Over the years, I've distilled  the storage criteria down as follows :
> 1) You want to store them by type/function per box (e.g. RS232 drivers, voltage regulators, 74HC
> CMOS, opamps etc.), not by individual part numbers as there are too many different types.

Agreed. I categorise stuff by function:
  SEMDIO     = Semiconductors, Diodes.
  SEMDIOZNR  = Semiconductors, Diodes, Zener.
  ICLIN      = Integrated circuits, linear
  ICAMP      = Integrated circuits, opamps and other amplifiers
  ICPLD      = Integrated circuits, Programmable Logic
  ICMCU      = ICs, Microcontrollers and Support ICs
  RTH        = Thru-hole resistors
  RSM        = Surface mount resistors

Each box is labelled on all four sides and the top -- I can look down the stack and figure out at a glance which categories of box I should look inside, based on the type of part I want. If I want a specific part, I search ISIS.

> 6) Cheap - I need at least 40-50 of them to cover the range of parts I want to store.

This is the problem I've had -- component boxes are NOT CHEAP. The Raaco ones are about £8 a piece, the SF05s are £5-£6.

The under-bed boxes and shoe-boxes are VERY cheap though. The Tesco plastic shoe-boxes were about £3 each and 3-for-2 last time I checked, and the local Instore was trying to shift the 40l boxes at £4.99 each or two for £8.

> 4 and 5 preclude boxes full of poly bags - too fiddly&  just ends up as a mess.

Depends on the type of part IME.

> I recently stumbled upon these, which are pretty much perfect :
> http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/5-x-PEEL-OFF-STICKER-BOXES-PLASTIC-STORAGE-CONTAINERS-/390229081229?pt=UK_Crafts_StickersScraps_Decoupage_SM

B..eh...ebbeh....

I bought half a dozen of those (or something VERY similar) from the Farnell trade counter as EOL items a bit ago. They're great for storing assembled and unassembled PCBs, or you can line the bottom with ESD foam and use them to store through-hole ICs.

I've yet to find a good way of storing small quantities of SMD ICs though. Farnell seem to like taking ICs out of manufacturer's tape and reel packaging and stuffing them into hard plastic trays. Which is great... until someone in the warehouse forgets to shake the tray before putting the top on. End result is that you end up with a batch of chips with bent pins.

Reason #1 why I've been buying PICs and Altera FPGAs from DigiKey... I can either spend two weeks trying to get broken parts replaced, or I can wait a couple of days for the parts, get them cheaper, and get them shipped in manufacturer's packaging or something so close to it that the difference is an entirely academic point...

-- Phil.
spam_OUTpiclistTakeThisOuTspamphilpem.me.uk
http://www.philpem.me.uk/

2010\12\23@104147 by Kerry Wentworth

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I have a wall of drawers, but I often go to customers' plants.  I have a couple of these:

http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Innovage-Hardware-Caddy/553416/product..html

They hold quite an assortment of parts, and fit nicely in the trunk of my Miata!

Kerry


Mike Harrison wrote:
{Quote hidden}

-- Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.0.289 / Virus Database: 267.11.13 - Release Date: 10/6/05

2010\12\23@105213 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
Mike Harrison wrote:
> 2) The container must be reasonably long in at
> least one dimension to accommodate tapes and cut-down
> tubes

There is a diference between storing lab stock and production stock.
Production stock gets accessed less often and can therefore be a little
harder to extract.

The solution is to store smaller quantities of every part you have in the
quickly accessible small parts cabinets used for lab stock.  Even if you
have a large reel of 3000 of something, put some amount that fits
comfortably in the small lab stock drawer.  That's all you want when messing
with a individual circuit board as a lab activity anyway.  We then put a
note (cut up business card works well) in such drawers that say "Extras in
cabinet", or wherever the bulk production stock of that item is stored.

That also helps when the lab stock gets low.  You know not to reorder the
item, just get another small batch from the production stock.  If the
production stock gets depleted, you remove the note that says extras are
available elsewhere.  Now you know you do need to reorder if you want more.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

2010\12\23@120738 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
> I am assuming, Olin, that you do not inventory any production qtys,
> but are always dealing with parts for prototypes, as I mostly am.

We do have production quantities of some parts, but mostly our stock is for
lab use.

> Can you store typical small qty. antistatic bags of parts, such as
> would arrive if you order say 10 pcs of a typical semi from DigiKey?

I would generally remove them from the bag first, but yes, that's exactly
the point.  Each type of part in its own drawer with a label, in the cabinet
for that category, sorted by the first parameter on the label.

> Do you have a drawer for each value/size smt passive, like caps and
> resistors, say 0604? In my experience, that is a lot of drawers....

Sortof, yes it is.  It is and always will be a ongoing process.  When you
first get a new part and have two package variants, you might put them in
the same drawer.  If you later get more variants or they are hard to
distinguish, you might split the single drawer into multiple.  For example,
1/4 Watt thru hole and 0805 resistors are easily distinguished, so mostly
the two are in the same drawer for that value resistor.  Sometimes if the
quantities are large or there are also 0603 or other packages, then there
are multiple drawers.  For example, it can be surprisingly hard to tell 0805
from 0603 when you're not seeing the two next to each other.  Capacitors
probably get split up more, since there are more variants for a particular
capacitance.  I just checked, and we have 7 drawers of 10uF capacitors of
different voltage ratings, packages, and technologies.

> About how many different items would be in this section of your
> inventory?

I took a picture of the lab stock and put it at
http://www.embedinc.com/elec/parts.jpg.  You can count for yourself if you
really want to.  The left 2 columns (6 cabinets of 50 drawers each) are all
resistors, the next column (3 of the 10164 cabinets) are all capacitors.
The third column from the right (2x 10164) are all PICs.

There is always something lying around in front that hasn't been given a
place to go.  Even if you make more labels and put the parts away, more have
a way of appearing very quickly.  As I said, it's a never ending process.

You can also see some of the bulk stock in this picture.  There are some
large reals visible on a shelf underneat the table.  Those happen to contain
electrolytic capacitors.  There is a drawer for each type above, with a few
in the drawer and a note that says "Extras below".  There are also other
shelves and cabinets with additional stock not shown in the picture.  The
shelf above the reals holds more bulk stock in various packing, including
bags, boxes, and tubes.

> Do you have any particular system for accumulating/storing parts for
> individual projects, or do you just expand your existing area when you
> add new parts to a design?

The parts themselves become generic and eventually end up filed in this
system.  Most projects do have specific harware associated with them.  There
is a whole set of shelves with boxes on them each containing stuff specific
to a particular customer.  Each box is labeled with the customer designator..

Being religious about labeling is very important.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

2010\12\23@122403 by Gary Crowell

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So the next question is, does anyone try to keep a database of their parts
stock (e.g., 'Parts & Vendors'), or does the 'visual database' of the
container labels suffice?
-- ----------------------------------------------
Gary A. Crowell Sr., P.E., CID+
Linkedin <http://www.linkedin.com/in/garyacrowellsr>
Elance<www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fgaryacrowellsr%2Eelance%2Ecom&urlhash=kJm9>
 KE7FIZ <http://www.arrl.org

2010\12\23@123553 by Mark E. Skeels

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Yea, I am looking at the pic; that's as I imagined it would be.

That's more than I have to store.......what I have is mostly parts associated with present projects, and then a bunch of stuff that got accumulated during past design cycles and I want to get it organized and inventoried so that I can use it in future projects, test fixtures, etc.

I don't have as much space as you do, and no shelving like you have your drawer cabinets set on top of.

I think I can get all my stuff into a two-door metal floor cabinet and on a table nearby.....so I am thinking a combo of rack bins and drawer storage boxes.

I'm going to the local Harbor Freight this afternoon to get some stuff.......probably will include one of these.......

http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/bins-containers/parts-rack-with-removable-bins-95496.html

Which will fit into my metal floor cabinet, and then probably some drawer cabs like yours,

or maybe more like these......

http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/bins-containers/24-container-storage-box-90243.html

....or this....

http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/bins-containers/19-bin-portable-parts-storage-case-93928.html


Mark Skeels
Engineer
Competition Electronics, Inc.
TEL: 815-874-8001
FAX: 815-874-8181
http://www.competitionelectronics.com

On 12/23/2010 11:08 AM, Olin Lathrop wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> (978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

2010\12\23@133559 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
Gary Crowell wrote:
> So the next question is, does anyone try to keep a database of their
> parts
> stock (e.g., 'Parts & Vendors'), or does the 'visual database' of the
> container labels suffice?

I'd like to have a part number system, perhaps with inventory information,
but currently our system is just visual.  Tom S computerized his inventory,
and even has it on line if I remember right.  Perhaps he'll chime in with
more detail.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000

2010\12\23@160531 by Spehro Pefhany

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At 07:33 AM 23/12/2010, you wrote:
>Oli Glaser wrote:
> > That is a problem with electronics though - so many tiny little parts
> > to keep track of...
>
>The answer is lots of small parts cabinets.  I like Akro Mils 10164, which
>have 64 little drawers each.  I just checked and that model seems to have
>been replaced by 10764, although it's not obvious what changed from the
>description.
>
>I'm looking at our wall of parts, and we have five 10164 in use with another
>20 or so of other types.  We have another eight 10164 in boxes ready for
>expansion.  These things are not expensive, even for hobbyists.  1 3/4 x 1/2
>inch labels fit nicely on the individual drawers.

Reels of parts are really (no pun intended) nice to deal with.. a
small cardboard box on the shelf holds whole bunch (I recycle 3M
cartons from bubble mailers). With 5% 0603 resistors running $7.50 for a
reel even at Digikey, it's hardly worth buying cut tape on many passives
and jellybean semis-- the handling costs dwarf the value of the parts,
even if you end up not using 4900 of the 5K pieces. And you can
always cut your own strip to refill the parts cabinet. I mark the
parts cabinet drawers that have "reel" quantities available.. both
to know to refill rather than re-order when the drawer gets down,
but also because they are usually the preferred parts for new designs.

>Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
.....speffKILLspamspam@spam@interlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com

2010\12\23@162733 by peter green

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Gary Crowell wrote:
> So the next question is, does anyone try to keep a database of their parts
> stock (e.g., 'Parts & Vendors'), or does the 'visual database' of the
> container labels suffice?
>   Philpem and I (philpem started it, I wrote most of it ;) have been developing a php/mysql based component stock database. It's rather rough arround the edges and I don't consider it ready for public release yet (use of the kohana framework was probablly a bad idea. Working with a framework with virtually nonexistent documentation is painful and we will probablly port it to something else before release)

2010\12\23@170728 by Charles Craft

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On 12/23/2010 9:17 AM, Oli Glaser wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Maybe Northern Tool in the UK can order from the sister company in the US. :-)
They put them on sale once or twice a year.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200335439_200335439

http://www.northerntooluk.com/about-northern-tool/About-us.html

Although the US and UK companies trade as independent businesses, Northern Tool + Equipment Co. (UK) Ltd was originally established by the owner of the world-famous American Northern Tool + Equipment Company, based in Minnesota in the northern USA (hence the word 'Northern', despite our UK arm being based in the south of the UK).  Northern Tool + Equipment USA is a $600m+ global business and has been trading since 1981

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