A Simple (and Dirty) Bill of Materials and Stock Management Utility

As many readers may already know, when I’m not featuring your projects or working on the mooltipass I try to make simple things that may be useful to electronics enthusiasts. My latest creation is a simple bill of materials generation tool, which can also do simple stock management. Unfortunately for Linux users, this utility is made using Visual Basic functions in an Excel file.

It works fairly simply: just enter your schematics’ components references in the excel sheet, along with the corresponding Digikey webpage address. Click on the “fetch” button and the script will automatically get all your component characteristics from the internet and tell you the component costs depending on the number of prototypes you want to make. Then click the “sort BoM” button and your BoM will automatically be sorted by component type and value. Another functionality allows you to check that all the components present in your BoM are also present on the (very simple) Kicad generated one. Finally, using another Excel sheet containing your current stock, the Bill of Materials will let you know if you have enough components for the assembly stage. A video of the tool in action is embedded after the break, and you can download the BoM template here (.XLSM file) and the corresponding stock file there (.XLSM file).

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Making Digi-Key much, much prettier

digi

We all love Digikey, but of all the major component retailers out there, their web interface really isn’t that great. A lot of online sources for parts are much, much prettier, but nothing a good Greasemonkey script can’t fix. This is all the work of [Ben], and adds a ton of really, really useful features to the Digikey web interface.

First up is a whole bunch of pictures right at the top of the search results. If you’re looking for pin headers or weird connectors, this is an astonishing useful feature that will help you select the right part faster. After that is a ‘helper’ button for voltages. As you know, selecting a part with a 5V input requires clicking multiple options including 3.3-5V, 2.3-6V, and 5-40V. Clicking on the helper button and entering 5 V will select all the entries in the filter that contain a 5V part.

[Ben]‘s project has been tested with Firefox and Chrome with Greasemonkey extensions. Head on over to his project page for a much better demo of all the features for this really great tool.

Digikey sort by price script

Does anyone else find it a little ironic the electronic retailer SparkFun is advocating scripts to help Digikey have a Sort By Price function? Regardless, to reiterate now Firefox (and we hear Google Chrome too) users with the Greasemonkey plugin can sort Digikey items. Personally, some of us here are just Mouser fans at heart.

[Thanks Charper and Mohonri and Satiagraha, image credit Make]

How-To: Where to find parts for your projects


Hunting down the right parts usually takes more time than soldering everything together. I can’t count the number of projects that I tried to build and couldn’t find some key component that’s no longer made. You can help put together a list of suppliers at the end, but the idea is to have a quick reference to get your projects rolling (saving your money for important things, like espresso). Even if you’re familiar with the usual electronics parts shops, chime in to help me create a list of the best suppliers to fuel those hardware hacking projects.

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