Spare Part Storage, Cataloguing and Organisation
Aug 18, 2009 at 8:27 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18


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Apr 24, 2009
Inspite of the risk of being considered an anorak (for US translation read dork), how do you go about storing your spare parts, cataloguing them and applying reference numbers?

I slowly seem to be becoming overwhelmed with padded envelops and boxes from Mouser, RS, Farnell and alike and don't really know which parts I have instock and what parts I need to buy when starting a new project.

It's also fair to say that my wife is less than impressed with the piles of stuff which are slowly growing in the bedroom.

I seem to have lots and lots of items but only a few of each of them.

Any hints, tips and advice gratefully received.
Aug 19, 2009 at 4:05 AM Post #4 of 18

Originally Posted by PJPro /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It's also fair to say that my wife is less than impressed with the piles of stuff which are slowly growing in the bedroom.

That sounds familiar!

I am planning to get one of those units MisterX linked to and use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all my parts. Use a different sheet for each component type(resistor,capacitor etc) and list brand, part number and component value as well as quantity, should then be easy to search for parts using excels search function. Number the drawers and add this to the spreadsheet to find parts quickly.

The only problem I can foresee is remembering to update the spreadsheet when using a part.
Aug 19, 2009 at 4:26 AM Post #5 of 18
I started sorting by project. I'll bag parts and use a permanent marker to write its value and place in the circuit (e.g. R5 or C2) on it. Then I box everything for each project into a cardboard box or other container. I also stick a copy of the plans/schematic/parts list in there and check off each part as I get it.

And yes, the boxes are growing in number. I'm still at the office tonight and will be for the forseeable future. Yet the parts keep accumulating.

With any luck, I'll have a place with a garage/shop in a year or two. When that happens, I'll use the same thing Mister X does.
Aug 19, 2009 at 6:39 PM Post #6 of 18
Yes, I've considered units as recommended by Mister X. However, I store stuff in my bedroom and work at my kitchen table downstairs. I suspect when I try to lug the unit down the stairs I'll tip it the wrong way, all the drawers will fall out and I'll be left with a big mess. I need something more portable.

I am considering using a CD wallet, with each CD location holding a plastic bag of components. Moreover, I should be able to get a lot of my small quantities of many different items in a fairly small space. The alternative to the CD wallet might be a flip card box?

For the idea above to work, I'd need to have a inventory which would allow me to easily find where things were stored. So I too have started to pull together a spreadsheet with different categories of components covered on different sheets. I rather hoped that everyone would be using some custom built freeware which would support electronic component details. But it appears not.

I have to laugh, but I got a bit obsessed with working out my own part numbering system for components.
normal_smile .gif
. For resistors, it goes something like...

Category-Type-Resistance-Precision-Watts eg R-MF-002K2-1.0-0.25

I wanted to be able to look at the number and instantly know what the component was.

The difficulty is, to make all of the above work, I'll need to be very strict with recording stuff as it moves into and out of the store.
Aug 19, 2009 at 11:29 PM Post #7 of 18
I don't keep track of miscellaneous parts. I put them in zip bags, label them with manufacturer, value and part number from where it was ordered and stow them in shoe-box size clear stackable boxes. I have separate boxes for resistors, caps, jacks, heat sinks...whatever. So far it is working fine with several dozen bags of each part type. I may soon break out different types of caps into separate boxes. The clear boxes allow me to see what is in the box even if the label is not visible. They can also be stored under most beds to remain out of sight.
I just pull out the boxes when I get ready to order parts for a new project and pull all the parts I have and put in a bag for that project, then I order the parts I don't have. When the parts arrive, I add them to the bag for that project.
Aug 20, 2009 at 2:23 AM Post #9 of 18
I use something similar but it is flat with sizable compartments. You can stack them on top of each other easiy for moving room to room. I think they are used for button and sewing kits. About the size of 4 cds in a 2X2 grid. Perfect for discrete components.
I just write the component and value on tape and put it in the compartment or in the lid.
They are easy to put away and move around.
Aug 20, 2009 at 5:25 PM Post #10 of 18
Check the fishing dept. of your local Wal-Mart for Plano storage boxes. They come in tons of sizes, with or without removeable/adjustable dividers.

Aug 20, 2009 at 6:19 PM Post #11 of 18
I use a combination of the bins linked to above, snap-top storage boxes, plastic bags, my kitchen table, some shelves in my master bedroom, a portable cart, and patience from my wife.

In all seriousness, this thread makes me realize how much my DIY gear and tube collecting has sprawled through our apartment...

For parts organization, though, I have 3 of the organizers shown above, each one blocked out by function,

One organizer is dedicated to just resistors, which are in turn sorted by their value range (e.g. 0 - 1k, 1.1-10k, 10.1-100k, 100.1k+), wattage, and whether they are "premium" or "standard". I have one row that is dedicated to my boutique resistors -- Vishay RN90Y/S102, Caddocks, and Corning Glassware. Another row is dedicated to vintage ones, which are carbon comp and carbon films. Another row goes to precision resistors -- Vishay Draloric and RN55/60/65's, and the last one goes to all my power resistors.

The second organizer is dedicated to Capacitors. I have 1 row dedicated to film, mica, and ceramics. The next two rows are dedicated to "boutique" electrolytics, sorted based on brand and capacitance. The last two rows are dedicated to low and high voltage snap-in caps.

The last bin is basically for miscellaneous parts. I keep my RCA, 1/4" and 1/8" jacks, binding posts. IEC jacks, terminal strips, plugs, etc. in it. I also keep my opamps, diodes, LEDs, and other stuff in this bin (the opamps are in their anti-static boxes).

The rest of my stuff is usually broken down by larger things, like cases, transformers, and tubes. I store those in large snap-top plastic bins like the one I've attached. I have smaller ones that have latching lids,which I use for the tubes.
Aug 20, 2009 at 8:35 PM Post #12 of 18
@Stasher1, yes those are the same ones I use and they are great for keeping small components organized. I only found the one size but I would like to get some bigger ones, I will have to check where you said. Thx for the info.
Aug 21, 2009 at 8:19 PM Post #13 of 18
Stand back... there are many answers. All told, about $5k in parts, and there are many other parts in distrubuted locations. Yes, completely out of control.



Aug 21, 2009 at 8:51 PM Post #15 of 18
Not a pretty picture, is it? That is 5 simultaneous projects in full swing...

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