Ask Hackaday: Organizing a growing collection of electronic odds and ends

ask hackaday

[Tim] wrote in, lamenting a problem that many of us can likely echo. Over the years, he has acquired all sorts of small electronic parts and components, along with tools and accessories – all of which are starting to crowd his workspace. He says that most of his stockpile is being stored in a tackle box, but it’s getting unwieldy and he would like to find a better way to organize things.

Yours truly suffers from the same sort of situation. It’s mostly a result of being a tad bit lazy, while conveniently finding alternative storage containers for my electronic odds and ends. My workbench is strewn with plastic snack baggies (for screws, not ESD-sensitive bits), Glad-Ware containers, Eclipse gum packages, and old plastic baby formula tubs for larger items. While I’m certainly doing my share to reuse plastic packaging, I am aware that it’s not exactly the best organization methodology.

This topic does come up pretty often, and even though we’ve talked about it on several occasions, people still like to hear fresh feedback from their peers. If you have some clever organization tips, or a novel way of storing your electronics components, be sure to share them in the comments!

Component storage roundup

It’s been suggested that the first self-replicating computer virus was a single IC that eventually expanded into multiple plastic component storage boxes. Organizing components by their values is a huge PITA as well. Here’s some solutions we’ve found:

Photo Boxes

[Mathew] sent in his organization scheme that uses 4×6 photo boxes. Better get those boxes while they’re hot – we can’t remember the last time we used film.

Use a binder

This instructables uses binders for storage. Good for passives, but unless someone can find anti-static bags for a binder, we’ll keep our ICs separate.

The only way to organize resistors

[Johannes] stores his resistors on a sheet of styrofoam. The grid has the first color band on the left side and the second color band on the top. Extremely, extremely clever. We’re wondering why we Radio Shack didn’t come up with this in the 70s. The grid could be laid out on a log scale, though.

If Susan is lazy, why does she do all the work?

[D.C. Boyce] hacked up a couple of lazy susans, built frames out of 2x4s and mounted plastic component drawers on them. The result is probably more space than we’ll ever need. To keep things simple, he wrote a database program to keep track of everything.



Hack a Day reader [The_Glu] shared with us a project of his. He used an Eee PC 701 he had lying around with a broken LCD, along with three 1TB SATA drives to create a custom NAS server for his house. The server features a number of other interesting components, including USB2SATA converters to connect the hard drives, as well as a 2 line LCD to display RAID information and server status. The entire  project is wrapped up in a custom made Plexiglas enclosure with case fans to keep the whole thing cool. While this may not be the first Eee PC NAS, or the fastest, this is a wonderful way to repurpose a broken netbook. We also love the idea of netbooks being used more and more in projects like these as the first generation reaches its end of usefulness age. More pictures after the break.

Thanks [The_Glu]

Continue reading “Eee PC NAS”

How a storage company builds their own


Want 67 Terabytes of local storage? That’ll be $7,867 but only if you build it yourself. Blackblaze sells online storage, but when setting up their company they found the only economical way was to build their own storage pods. Lucky for us they followed the lead of other companies and decided to share how they built their own storage farm using some custom, some consumer, and some open source components. Continue reading “How a storage company builds their own”

Snow Leopard ditches real math for fake


We’ve always felt that hard drive manufacturers were dirty crooks because of their use of fake math to make drives sound bigger than they actually are. Here’s a quick refresher for those who need it: Because digital information consists of 1’s and 0’s (two possible settings), digital architecture revolves around powers of 2. Long ago, when nomenclature was setup for measuring data the term kilobyte was adopted to represent 2 to the 10th power bytes (base 2, aka real math). The problem here is that 2^10= 1024 and when laymen hear the root “kilo” they think 1000 which is 24 byes less (base 10, aka fake math). So, if you have a 500,000,000 byte drive, base 10 math would call that a 500GB drive, but base 2 math would call that 476.8GB.

We understand why hard drive manufacturers use the base 10 system; larger sounding drives sell better. Now we find out that OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard is using base 10 math to calculate storage space. While base 2 math is the standard storage measurement for operating systems it may at first be difficult to understand why Apple would change to a base 10 system. But think about it once more, doesn’t Apple have a lot to gain if all the storage-containing-hardware they sell sounds bigger than it actually is?

[via Gizmodo]

Update: Force Snow Leopard to calculate storage in base 2 [via Gizmodo]

Parts: 32KB SPI SRAM memory (23K256)


Microchip’s new 23K256 is a serially interfaced 32 kilobyte SRAM memory chip, available in 8 pin DIP and 8 pin SO packages. SRAM, like EEPROM, is a data storage medium. Data stored in SRAM is lost without constant power, but it’s really fast and there’s no limits to the number of write cycles. EERPOM stores data even without power, but it’s slow and usually limited to around a million write cycles.

32K SRAM chips typically have 15 address lines and 8 data lines, like the IS61LV256AL we used on our CPLD development board.  The 23K256 requires just four signal lines, but sacrifices the speed of a parallel memory interface. It’s a great way to add extra memory to a low-pin count microcontroller without routing 23 signal traces. We’ll show you how to interface this chip below.

Continue reading “Parts: 32KB SPI SRAM memory (23K256)”

Sony Vaio UX 64GB solid state upgrade


This Sony Vaio UX50 came with a 30GB hard drive from the factory. This hacker wanted to do an upgrade and move to solid state, so he started hacking away. He ended up with a total of 64GB of solid state storage crammed into the computer.  The hard drive was replaced with a 4GB compact flash drive and the rest is spread through out the device. Apparently any crevice or crack in the Sony UX50 can have memory shoved into it. He managed to somehow get 60GB of storage in there through various USB extensions and adapters. Notice the sticker on the inside of the case. Is this the latest fad? Decorating the inside of the unit where only you know it exists?

[thanks Jorn]