ecDB offers a simple, intuitive way to keep your electronic inventory organized

ecdb

One of the most important tools for any hacker or maker is organization. You might consider it more of a concept rather than a physical tool, but regardless of how you like to frame it, ensuring your tools and components are (nearly) always where they should be is key. As the odds and ends add up, it can sometimes be hard remembering exactly what you have on hand – that’s where the ecDB comes in handy.

Short for electronics component DataBase, the ecDB was created by [Nils Fredriksson], and offers a clean and intuitive way to keep tabs on what you have in-house. Many of us have used spreadsheets and notebooks to do the same, but ecDB allows you to record much more data than you could with either solution.

This is immediately clear within a moment or two of looking at the site’s interface. Not simply limited to listing part names and quantities, ecDB allows you to record manufacturer info, package type, and pin counts, while also allowing you to attach PDF datasheets and images of your components as well.

We really like system that [Nils] put together, and suggest giving it a spin to see if it will help you keep things organized in your workshop.

Comments

  1. raged says:

    Very cool.

    Have you thought about export options?

  2. ElectricMan says:

    Raged.
    Yes I have, it’s the first thing to on the list. :)

    See upcoming features here:
    http://ecdb.net/about.php

    • chango says:

      If you add BOM management and some way to scrape vendors for availability and price, I’ll throw money at my monitor until you take it.

      • edonovan says:

        Before adding a BOM, parts need a better entry system.

        Maybe each part that users put in could be submitted to a global parts database, so one would only need to supply the part numbers and all other fields would be auto-propagated, even giving links to where to source the parts.

        Then creating the BOM is just a matter of adding a list of part numbers and quantities and the site does the rest: check if you have it in inventory, post the costs and totals from various vendors.

    • raged says:

      Well I signed up for an account. Let me know if you need any help/suggestions on the data export. My name is the same as on here.

  3. This makes me want to set up an automatic chip recognition program even more. The idea would be scanning all the chips then using OCR to log/count the chips. Shit’s complicated though.

  4. Imrahil says:

    Please add an API :) And integration with Octopart (for datasheets)

  5. Mark says:

    This is really nice. I’ve started trying it out right away and it looks useful.

  6. atomsoft says:

    Beautiful! I wish i had some money just to donate!

    One thing you should do is make either a stand-alone program or offer the code/images/etc… for others to host there own database. I would love this as a local intranet thing.

    Ill gladly pay for that as well!

  7. Dosbomber says:

    Awesome! I just wish it had a local version.

    As a side note, since it’s not local, and therefore not isolated to one’s own network/computer, I wonder if there could be a social element added to this system (I know that sounds counter-intuitive to engineer-types). So-and-so has 20 pcs of [insert name of rare-as-hell obsolete discontinued part here] that I desperately need because there’s no drop-in replacement for the expensive equipment I need to fix? Send a secure message with an offer.

    • Dosbomber says:

      PS: At the moment I’m photo-documenting all my components, bagging them, and stuffing them into plastic totes. Organized? Not really. I can’t be absolutely sure I have something specific, but if I need something, I can pull up a directory specific to that tote (each tote has its own category of parts), and see if I have a part with the right specs and footprint. Editing each photo with text to describe the parts and its source, and overlaying closeups for IC markings is a royal pain though.

      I don’t have to blindly dig for parts anymore, but there are still plenty of issues with the system.

    • Meseta says:

      Would be useful if things such as datasheets, component and footprint files for Eagle or KiCAD and those kinds of things were shared.

  8. Daniel says:

    This is really neat. I do wish there was a local version though since I often don’t have internet when I’m working on my projects, but I always have my laptop. But it seems to be very well done and has a nice interface for someone with an always available network connections.

  9. ScottInNH says:

    This is one of those times I am reminded how sometimes have way too little time to pursue an idea that’s been in my head for far too long. This is one of those times. Well done!

    I’ve been toying with this kind of database concept for a while, and I sketched out a prototype built using the Drupal CCK module but I never polished it up enough even for my own use.

    A few suggestions:
    1) Allow linking to possible part substitutes in the database
    2) Allow linking to manufacturer or Digi-Key part IDs (You can then attempt to automate magical part relationships for parts entered at different times)
    3) Make this “embeddable” by other websites somehow. Give maker workshops a reason to standardize on this as a platform and make your service part of their website. (Whether that’s a services API or affiliate accounts, I don’t know… but my point is this is a also social network database of who has what parts to spare… more people on board is better).

  10. atomsoft says:

    A social addition to this would be awesome! But then the users would have to update profiles to include location and more info.

    If the source for this doesnt become open/available for local usage then ill have to make my own…

    Or if you add a export feature it would be great as well! Like some post above. Mainly so one can have a backup and also so one can possibly create a stand alone program and use that to import or as the actual database locally.

    I hope this grows more! Please update the site as much as possible :)

  11. smoketester says:

    Tried it out right away and it seems useful. I’m with the crowd that thinks there should be a STAND ALONE VERSION so that an internet connection is not required. Love the idea though of being able to buy, sell, trade, through the site. Perhaps this could be the business model that keeps this project progressing. Keeping an eye on this one.

  12. Leif says:

    Great!

    I’ve been thinking about making a site like this for a few years now. It’s one of those things I would like to do but might never get around to. Now maybe I don’t have to.

    A few people mentioned adding a social aspect and one even mentioned being able to message others asking for parts. I really hope you do that as it was something I wanted to feature strongly in mine.

    Besides finding hard to get parts it would be nice to be able to list common ones as available for sale/trade. It’s often so much cheaper to buy parts in quantity when you only need a few. There are certain values of resistor for example that my grandchildren couldn’t ever run out of at this point! It would be great if people could exchange them with one another to get what they need.

    Selling is good to but I like that trade/exchange focus better. More of a maker community, not just another Ebay. There used to be a site called SwitchDiscs, later renamed to SwitchPlanet where people could list their CD collections (later books & DVDs too). It had it’s own currency ‘SwitchBucks’ which you could then buy/sell with. Using ‘SwitchBucks’ encouraged people to list their own stuff, keep trading rather than just buy what you wanted and go. You could buy SwitchBucks with real dollars though too.

    I don’t know how practical that was, I know they did have a problem controlling inflation. They had a lot of forum activity and a strong community though too. Maybe we could have something like that for components?

    Of course… one should have the ability to keep their stuff private too.

  13. orderstoo says:

    Having just started developing products, managing my components is a huge challenge. So some wish-list type comments follow, thinking aloud..

    Take the lowly 1K resistor. I have some from china that cost .1 cents, some that cost 2 cents, some that cost 8 cents. I do like to have component cost be a part of my physical inventory, so I can make decisions on which I grab.

    So there is managing the physical inventory

    And managing the DB – adding and subtracting

    I don’t even want to mention doing physical inventory to reconcile differences. I think any system has to be good enough that you don’t slack off and get in a situation where your inventory records are out of date. But there is the temptation to use a component for a short term proto that you intend to take apart, and then not update the inventory…

    Also…… When I make an order on digikey or mouser, I need a system that will take the invoice (whether cut and paste or pdf) and automatically add it to my inventory. No way should I have to enter that stuff in manually.

    Thanks!

  14. CoolMod says:

    It is cool and I was tempted to use it, however, please help me understanding what is the advantage versus doing this in Excel. Still have to type in the p/n, qty and price and do a manual update. Any good reason to use this program? (not trying to be a party-pooper, just trying to understand)

  15. atomsoft says:

    Here is my last mouser order… (should be in, in a couple days)

    http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y141/AtomSoft/?action=view&current=mouser.jpg

    I decided to use that as a starting point since i know those parts are accounted for :)

    I have 100’s if not 1000’s of parts i need to catalog. This is going to be so much fun!

  16. charliex says:

    we have about 20 million+ components in stock at our hackerspace, need to find a good inventory system that does into BOM’s/projects and distributors etc.

  17. vic says:

    Very cool. Actually I’ve coded something like that for my own needs.

    A nice feature would be the possibility to make lists of components (say, a BOM for a particular circuit), and export it as a CSV file, or even better directly export it to an order with one of the main distributors, like Mouse, Farnell, Digikey, etc … Most have some kind of API to allow this.

  18. Josh says:

    Would really appreciate a way to deploy this locally, so it can be relied upon & supported with in-house IT resources.

  19. Indyaner says:

    Everything was said already above: Great Project.
    I just want one thing: EUR besides USD. Its such a little thing to do and would help me alot.

  20. Necromant says:

    Too bad not opensource. I’d get one to my server… Heh, back to using postgresql + lua web UI.

  21. Shadyman says:

    I LOL’d so hard..

    User preferences -> Units: Metric / Retarded American System (Imperial)

    /LIKE

    • ScottInNH says:

      As an American I was both amused by this, and saddened at the fact that America’s right-wing “culture warriors” still seek to boycott SI/metric until it’s inventors repent for being both atheist AND French.

      Ronald Reagan joked when he ripped down the dual US/SI highway signs, as he did when he had the White House solar panels destroyed.

      Mixing US Customary and Imperial is a common mistake, but they’re not the same standards. US Customary uses the same terms as Imperial, but they measure differently.

      • einstein says:

        Except everything the federal government does is in metric, and has been for some time.

        You should be worried about the left-wing and their assault on the working-class and turning our schools into propangada centers for Marxists.

    • Drew says:

      Unfortunately using the “Retarded American System” is often the best way for electronics projects

  22. An article about parts management, and someone still manages to bring up religion.

    Internet logic, everybody.

    • ScottInNH says:

      Wow way to skip over the current side discussion about Metric vs. US, and then convincingly be obtuse about it. I’m sorry if the history of metric in the US is so inconvenient and threatening – that’s science for ya.

  23. Julspower says:

    Thats great
    way more than arena and sap im used too
    humm it would be perfect with an application running with the ability to work offline
    webbrowsing can be so frustating with this stuff :D

  24. qwghlm says:

    I’m using PartKeepr – http://partkeepr.org/
    Quite a Beast to install, but when it works it’s great.

    • Panikos says:

      hackaday: meant to click reply not report

      qwghlm: Thanks for that link. it looks interesting, is in active development and can be self-hosted. I’ll give it a try.

  25. tjb says:

    Running it local would be very easy with a LAMP distro running on a virtual machine. Just need the PHP code.

  26. hardcore says:

    Personally I would NOT use it………..
    It puts all the prices and supplier contacts in a place where it is not secured , which can then be scraped and sold.
    Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to keep my suppliers data tightly under wraps.

  27. Microguy says:

    One thing for me would be location of the part(s) or items. I have tons of stuff, but can never remember the exact location, since I’ve seen it here, and seen it there, and saw it over there….

    Another thing would be linking to other people/ I belonged to a Electronics forum (that shall remain nameless) and the good thing about it was people sharing or offering parts.

    If you needed something off the wall, somebody had one and was willing to ship it to you. We all shared plenty of stuff, tools included.

    Perhaps a printable bar code, so you can print custom labels, print the bar code on the label, so when you need to reorder something, just scan it with your phone. Job done. Just select what info you want on the label, and it’s extracted and you can print one or more at a time.

  28. Galane says:

    I know a retired US Navy radioman who does the same thing with a stack of index cards and a rubber band.

  29. spiralbrain says:

    Very cool, I hope the final version will have more currency support. trying it just now!

  30. password says:

    what about being able to generate QR labels and option to scan items from mobile/webcam to either add to you database or remove that item. This would make it one killer app for me.

  31. Heh, I automatically assumed this was something to set up on your own network/webspace. I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse that it isn’t. But this is VERY interesting.

    I agree that integration with big-name distributors, and an easy way to automatically get datasheets would be huge pluses.

    I’d probably want something I can deploy locally though, for security. (I don’t mean as in privacy, but as in long-term data security)

  32. Jan Gundtofte-Bruun says:

    Dude! This is straight out of Makers (a novel by Cory Doctorow) — you need to add RFID for effective item addition and location, and you’re golden!

  33. Frank Cohen says:

    Now the hard part, remembering to update the database when you use up parts.

  34. Murtaugh says:

    Very nice, but I would take forever to count all my electronic parts. I have probably millions of electronic pieces, and everything is very organized. The small parts (capacitors, diodes, transistors, resistors, crystals, screws, etc) are stored in glass jars that cover up one of the walls of my basement. Medium things (heat sinks, metal pieces, etc) are stored in plastic boxes also on my basement. The vacuum tubes are stored in drawers. And the big things (motors, high power parts, wires, etc) are stored in some crates in my basement too.

    • ScottInNH says:

      @Murtaugh – If your parts are well organized, it wouldn’t be a matter of adding a precise count, just indexing the parts you have and estimating.

      For me at least – it’s not about being able to FIND something, it’s about being able to inventory that I HAVE something and does it seem low or not.

      Then when I order some parts for a project, I can piggyback other things I am getting low on.

  35. ElectricMan says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys! I created a blog for ecDB today where I answered some of your suggestions and feedback. Please check it out:
    http://ecdb.net/blog/

    You can subscribe to the blog via RSS or follow @ecdbnet at Twitter for latest updates. :)

  36. joe says:

    Check under my account, units, the options are;

    Metric/Retarded American System (Imperial)

  37. atomsoft says:

    Since this is hack-a-day and his code will be released soon. I thought id clone a bit and alter it a ton. Added/edited a ton of stuff..

    http://atomsofttech.com/inv/

    This is no way near done .. its PURE html right now… no php or mysql code at all. But will be soon!

    :)

  38. jr says:

    Seriously. And the embedded CSS is even rife with ECDB references and paths. Bad form, dude. Bad form.

    • atomsoft says:

      Who said this is for profit? ecDB is open source… or plans to be i think. If not its not like im giving this source out. This is hackaday dude, what do you expect?

      People are fine when they take apart a company site to learn from and mimic but when a person does it to another person its like OMG why! get out of here!

      The entire PHP/MYSQL code is written by hand by me so whats wrong with me cloning the style? Bunch of haters. I have my own internal site now up and running for inventory.

      I still dont understand whats so wrong? I give him props and love his site. Im not hating his work. Cloning should be one of the most flattering signs. I like his work so much i decided to clone it.

      Im no artist but im a wiz at coding things. So i think me using his style isnt a issue. If its a issue with him let him tell me. I havent heard from him yet. Also im not using on my main site anymore. Its a internal thing. The one on my site is old and not updated.

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