Parts storage for all your components

When [Steve] saw that we requested reader’s solutions to storing hundreds of different components, he had to send in his solution to storing bunches of ICs, resistors, transistors, and other components.

Like most of the suggestions we’ve seen, [Steve]’s solution relies on #10 envelopes stored in boxes specifically designed for holding envelopes. While there’s nothing new about storing handfuls of ICs in envelopes, we really like [Steve]’s method of organization.

On the top of each envelope, [Steve] printed a bunch of very useful information including the type and kind of part, the tolerance, speed, voltage, and package information. Also included are the manufacturer and vendor part numbers, making reordering a breeze.

Of course printing out hundreds or thousands of envelopes with this information would be a pain. [Steve] got around that by automating the process with iWork, typing in the values for each field in a spreadsheet app and using Mail Merge to print them all on envelopes.

It’s a very neat system that forced [Steve] to have all his parts on a spreadsheet, inching ever closer to a complete inventory management system. He’s thinking about adding QR codes to the envelopes to make reordering parts trivial, but after figuring out how to send hundreds of envelopes through a printer, we can understand if [Steve] wants to be a little lazy from here on out.

Building up an inventory of SMD parts

Once you’ve been tinkering around with electronics for a while, you’ll realize the through-hole components that make breadboarding a circuit so easy won’t cut it anymore. Surface mount parts are the future, and make it incredibly easy to build a semi-professional mockup at home. The question arises, though: how do you store thousands of surface mount parts smaller than a grain of rice?

As [George] was building up his SMD inventory, he came across a few clever solutions. The first was a binder sold by Adafruit (and others) that holds strips of cut tape SMD components. [George] wanted something a little more modular, and when he came across an eBay auction for 5000 0805 resistors and 3000 0805 caps, he needed to find a storage solution.

[George] ran across these tiny modular boxes while shopping at Adafruit. These boxes are completely modular, interlock with each other, and have a hinged lid that will hopefully prevent the eventual, ‘SMD parts everywhere’ spill everyone his likely to have.

After printing out some labels for his boxes, [George] had a very tidy solution to his SMD organization problems. We’re wondering what other Hackaday readers use to organize their parts, so if you have a better solution send it in.

[ch00ftech] Visits a Shenzhen Market

On a business trip, [ch00ftech] visited a Shenzhen electronics market and documented the trip. Some of the attractions included multiple Apple stores of questionable authenticity, stores selling PC components with no manuals, drivers, or packaging, and a variety of LEDs and lasers.

[ch00ftech] showed off the loot from the trip, including breadboards, perf boards, LED matrices, and an RFID reader all for very low prices. There’s also the Class 4 laser pointer that cost about $120 and has a power output of “between 500 mW and 8000 mW.” Given the 500 mW power restriction on lasers sold in the US, it’s fair to say that this thing should be handled with care. Hopefully the included safety classes actually block the specific wavelength of the laser.

The staff in these stores were very knowledgeable and knew part numbers and inventories by memory. One of the biggest surprises was just how low the prices were.  While Radio Shack has started to carry some more parts for hackers, it seems that nothing stateside can compare these Chinese electronics markets.

Flea market finds

We sometimes wonder why do don’t see classic electronic equipment at second-hand stores. We had thought it’s because these items tend to get snapped up quickly, but perhaps we’re not shopping in the right places. Here’s a photo set documenting some of the finds from a recent flea market.

The offerings cover a wide range of products and components. There are all kinds of bench tools like oscilloscopes, voltage meters, and bench supplies. But we also see more modern computer parts like cardboard boxes full of motherboards, and heaps of PC power bus wires. You can get five tube sockets for a buck and if you need the tubes they’re just $3-5 a piece. One of the more useful finds is a display case full of shrink tube of every diameter; and one vendor is selling wire by the foot.

License plates and common sense place this Flea Market in the Silicon Valley area. But if you’ve got more concrete info on where this type of event goes down please share it in the comments section.

[via Adafruit]

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.

Parts: Tactile switches for your next project

Electronics parts can be a pain to choose. It’s often hard to tell from manufacturers’ datasheets if a part will fit your design. We auditioned six different tactile switches to find a cheap button to use in upcoming projects. A tactile switch, also called a momentary button or push-to-make switch, is commonly used for input and microcontroller resets. This type of button creates a temporary electrical connection when pressed.

Footprints for most of these buttons are available in the Cadsoft Eagle library switch-tac, or in the Sparkfun parts library under TAC_SWITCH. Buttons in the image above are discussed from left to right. Continue reading “Parts: Tactile switches for your next project”

Reusing PCB components


If you’re anything like us, you have a closet full of old electronics, some broken, some obsolete. You can stop using those as paperweights with the help of this guide that shows you how to recycle and reuse PCB components.

The first step of the process is finding electronics you don’t mind taking apart. Next place the PCB you’ll be stripping in a vice, with the components facing away from you and the solder side facing towards you. Grip the component you want with a pair of pliers, and apply a hot soldering iron to the solder that is holding the component. The solder will melt and allow you to safely and cleanly remove the component.

This process can be applied to virtually any component on an PCB, and the author of the guide, [Patented], got a lot of components this way, including resistors, capacitors, switches, audio jacks, and much more. Don’t forget to toss any free-floating metal or plastic parts in the recycle bin when you’re done. You can feel good about the fact that nothing was wasted, you found parts for your next project, and you cleared out some space.