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


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.