Author Topic: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?  (Read 4435 times)

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Offline Ysjoelfir

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I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« on: August 18, 2018, 03:46:19 pm »
Hey everyone,
have you been at that point where you stepped into your lab, looked around and nearly immediately turn around and leave, everytime you just thought that you will today finally start with THAT project or finish another one, just because you don't find any space to work or everything is in your way?

Well, right now I am at this point which frustrates me pretty much. I have way to much stuff than I will ever use but it makes me feel kind of sad getting rid for example of all those wood working tools I never use or the old aquarium controller my father developed all by himself without ever professionally learning to programm or build PCBs, or all those hundreds of thousands of leaded components I will never use again since I mostly use SMD nowadays.... Also, I have a whole bunch of dot matrix VFDs, HPDL-2416 Displays, Z80 CPUs and what not, Tubes, Tools, PC Stuff, a 3D Printer that worked flawlessly before I decided to enhance it and is now collecting dust for 2 years,.....

Always I start to get rid of stuff I tend to dispose of big parts, but the tons of small stuff is the actual problem that keeps clogging up the workspace.
Just some months ago I disposed of around 8 big blue trash bags of stuff, but I don't have the feeling it was enough. You could say, I wish to have a clean lab with nothing (except the test equipment) on my desks and with shelfes and storage room that doesn't burst open if you just look at it the wrong way.

How do you manage this problem yourself, if you have it? And if not, why? If you dispose of stuff, do you go through the hassle to sell it, which means just more stress for nearly no revenue? Or do you just go the route of "put it in a bag and than it's gone"? Lastly I noticed that this way is the easier, since you don't have to waste time packaging that Hartmann & Braun Multavi to securely travel around half the globe for 5 bucks and having to deal with the complaint that this 1960s meter doesn't have an OLED display and doesn't measure femto ampere as the buyer expected... On the other hand I hate to dispose of perfectly working stuff which could be usefull for someone.
I have also already donated some stuff all around the world to interested enthusiasts, but that was even more work for me whithout that big of a return - many times there wasn't even a thank you or it was expected  from me to bring the stuff around when I asked local interests if they would want it - pretty hard since I don't have a car.
This seriously frustrates me, which is the reason why I tend to go out more to take photos or ride my motorcycle instead of working in the lab, which is a shame since I actually love my electronics hobby very much.

So, any input is very appreciated :) Tell me your stories!
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 04:59:27 pm by Ysjoelfir »
Greetings, Kai \ Ysjoelfir
 

Offline Bratster

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 04:53:43 pm »
You're not alone, I have the same problem. I'm fine with all the equipment that I have and tools Etc but I have so many parts and things that I want to turn into some project but I'll probably never get to.
 Boxes of wires which are useful but I may never use but I can't seem to get rid of them. Boxes of project Boxes Etc. stuff that I had an idea that I could turn into a project but I'm not motivated to do it.

seems like over half the time I get rid of something a couple months later I end up finding a use for it and going oh I've got that I can do it, oh wait no I got rid of it.

It doesn't bring me joy anymore having all this stuff and yet it also hurts to get rid of it.
 It really sucks.

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Online nctnico

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2018, 05:38:02 pm »
I got rid of a lot of stuff earlier this year. I packed it in boxes and put an ad on a local second hand website. I sold the whole pile for 10 euros because if you give stuff away for free people don't read your ad and you end up wasting time with people who have a different expectation.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2018, 06:00:29 pm »
I'd give you money for a pile of VFD displays, I can't pay a lot right now but I could make it worth your while to pack them into a small box, I like the look and use them in projects. I'd take Z80s and other vintage ICs too, I repair old arcade boards and play with vintage computers.
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 06:54:19 pm »
I find that commercial storage solutions are inadequate for the electronics hobby. You need to make shelves and containers of your own design with appropriate drawer sizes and such to efficiently store your components. I find most purchasable solutions result in a shit load of dead space. This requires knowledge of carpentry and plastics work to do efficiently and cheaply. I find that if I just throw stuff inside of esd bags and put those bags inside of containers results in a container filled with shit that I feel intense stress when I access.

Think something like ESD foam lined "toolbox" that the interior space of the shelf is just enough to have like 0.25cm headspace over a DIP part thats pressed into the foam. If you have a bunch of DIP IC's there is no need to sort them into individual containers, you can press them in "show formation" right next to each other, then use something like a label maker.

I for instance just have little parades of op-amps sitting in black carbon foam banks, grouped by type... its easy enough to read the number of the part.

SMD stuff is more annoying since you can't pin it into something easily, so you need some kind of barrier to segregate them... but you can do alot if you think about fine construction. Just make sure your containers are reasonably sturdy so you don't get some kind of 'bounce' that occurs when you open them, which will cause the parts to start popcorning out of their respective storage pens and make a mess. Cheap plastic sometimes will develop stresses that makes the bottom start having a drumlike effect that scatters parts around. You can make the enclosures incredibly small so long you remember that you need to carefully use tweezers to remove the parts.

It's precise pain in the ass work but you can do alot with just a router, nails and reasonably dimension ally stable wood. Just make sure it seals well so you don't have a dust problem.

I also feel heavy psychological exhaustion sorting parts for some reason, so I set time limits on such work so I don't get burned out. Same goes for sorting screws and other small mechanical components. I don't feel quite normal if I spend a few hours sorting a 'junk box'... like I drank 10 cups of coffee, then I feel a intense psychological repulsion to returning to the task and would rather do pretty much anything else.

Being mindful to replace the part into its respective storage container also helps alot, so you don't end up with little impromptu junkboxes..

I found that early in my hobby I would not plan well, since the idea of making a circuit is exciting but then you don't think about how the project will be managed if you run into a hurdle like missing parts, difficult technical aspect... this is why companies tend to have so much overhead, considering how quickly you can make storage containers if you get good at it, it may be wise to engineer a project storage solution that fits the scope of your project before you start construction. Failure to do so makes you question your actions when you trip over a half finished LISN sitting on the floor for 3 months  :-X

It is still a struggle for me. Also always consider dust, nothing pisses me off then caked up dust in high surface area irregular geometry things like unfinished PCBs.

I would recommend that you work outside to sort stuff like junkboxes, I find if you do it on a nice day on an outdoor table you feel alot better and you don't associate your lab with mundane work. Or at least in another room. I noticed too that all the test equipment, dials, knobs, etc just leads to a generally stressful atmosphere that is unpleasant unless you want to actually get something done.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 07:26:42 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline wilfred

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2018, 12:44:54 am »
You're definitely not alone. I eventually worked out about myself that I wasn't accumulating parts as much as I was accumulating dreams of the things I could do with them. I too came to realise I had too much and it was turning into a nightmare.

Assuming you're not an actual hoarder that really has trouble getting rid of anything this is my 3 step plan.

1. Fill a box with stuff you don't want but can be easily replaced should a future need ever arise. Chuck it out.
2. Before you acquire something new either sell some stuff to raise funds to pay for it and/or dispose of something of equal or greater size. Volume or value it doesn't matter the aim is to hold back the incoming tide.
3. Have an Ebay sale (or whatever your local alternative is) 20x $50 things and 50x $20 things.

Repeat as long as necessary. Perpetually if required.

And finally gather materials for just one project. Write a list of the steps needed to complete that project. Get started on that project. The objective here is to break the mental cycle of just rolling thoughts around in your mind and instead turn them into actions.



This sort of thread pops up from time to time and it makes me wonder if we should have a thread or threads where people can exchange stuff and create a virtual global junk box. Kind of like how Fran was able to complete the repair of her Heathkit clock. It would work better if people gave back the knowledge that someones generosity actually helped in a real tangible way. Not necessarily a Youtube video.
 

Offline Bratster

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2018, 01:18:31 am »
Re: Wilfred

"You're definitely not alone. I eventually worked out about myself that I wasn't accumulating parts as much as I was accumulating dreams of the things I could do with them. I too came to realise I had too much and it was turning into a nightmare. "

That describes it perfectly

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Offline station240

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2018, 02:54:39 am »
Way I got rid of a lot of small parts, was the put all the like parts into small bags, until I'd sorted through everything.
So you end up with a bag of small signal diodes, metal can transistors, etc.
Make a text file for each bag, with title and description "27 signal diodes, untested etc. See my other items, will combine postage", take a photo as well. If you can put part numbers in also that helps people find it.

Put each bag up for say $2 plus postage, all at the same time. People can pick and choose which bags of mess they want.
Was it worth the time spend for the money returned ? Of course not, but I considered it something to do on a cold night, and spent the money on things I did need.


How did I decide what needed to go ?
Have I used this in the past 3 years (or ever) ? Is this of any use for my current project(s) ?
Some stuff was too grotty to be of any use to anyone, so that went to e-waste recycling instead.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2018, 03:19:11 am »
Multiple surplus companies out there sell random grab bags of parts. I've bought a few in the past, even if it's not stuff I really need it's fun to see what's in there and I have found some really useful bits and pieces. It takes minimal effort to get a bunch of small USPS flat rate boxes or whatever similar options are available in other countries and scoop a pile of parts into one.
 

Online Brumby

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2018, 06:31:08 am »
I implemented a couple of what I call a "maintenance regimes".

The first is to containerise everything.  The size of containers and arrangement are up to you, but the idea is to keep related items in the one container.

The second is to have a limit on the number of containers.  When you have more stuff that can't fit into the existing set of containers - you have to get rid of something to make space.

Then there's the unofficial clean up crew.  My children that see too much 'junk' and after they went through the garage and filled a skip bin, there were a few things that I cannot find.  Of those, the only one I am really peeved about is a 1GHz counter that I built from a Jaycar kit.  I described it and the box it was stored in and I have been assured it would not have been thrown out .... but it's been 4 years and I still haven't found it.


Aside from that, I am probably one of the worst people to offer suggestions on how to clear out stuff.

Obviously, it is not something in which I have much expertise.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2018, 06:38:58 am »
I always try to offer something to others rather than throw it out, I absolutely hate it when I mention something unusual/valuable that I'm looking for and someone says "You should have asked me a week ago before I threw one out!" Sometime pretty soon here I should put together a grab bag of random bits I know I'll never use, to make room for random bits someone else doesn't want.
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2018, 06:50:11 am »
For me cleaning the tables is the most difficult and time-consuming task.  :-[ Everything else is in (somewhat) order but tabletops accumulate huge amount of various items and  parts.

I clean my tables by first picking out all the tools and then push everything in a large shallow see-trough container box. If the part is worth of keeping I'll find the original/right storage place for it, if it's not enough interesting it's left in the box. Give the box couple of good shakes to bring out the important gold nuggets (I call this gold panning) and throw everything left in the box to trash bin.
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2018, 06:58:49 am »
Moving around is another efficient way to reduce the amount of your crap. Sort and box everything, seal the boxes and after 2 years throw away all the boxes that are unopened  ;D
Or imagine that you are moving to another side of globe and  pack everything you absolutely  must have to 1 cubic meter container.

I classify my crap by formula (market value)*(probability of using it in next 10 years)/(needed storage volume)

 
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Offline james_s

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2018, 07:13:40 am »
I shudder to think of all the really cool stuff that has been thrown away by people throwing out boxes they haven't opened in years. I mean at least donate it to a thrift store so someone can benefit from the treasures that may be within. I have found stuff in boxes I had packed away for years and forgotten about which I then sold for hundreds of dollars.
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2018, 03:00:52 pm »
I can't stand throwing a high end part away. Especially analog parts, it seems that the more you know about the semiconductor design the more you can appreciate every part for its unique characteristics, even if some of the specs are deemed antiquated.

I shudder to think what would happen if I lived in the tube era lol. They are difficult to store.  Same with transformers and larger capacitors.

And how about heatsinks? and fans? I have giant boxes of heatsinks and fans in the attic. They drive me a little crazy, and I am looking at developing some kind of good brazing technique to make my own heatsinks in a kiln out of copper sheets, I would just need a lapping plate to ensure the bottom surface is good. Then I could acquire copper sheets to store and make heatsinks that I need as not to keep a giant container of shit. The fans are somewhat dubious too because I realize now that most of them are fairly low performance... I need to do some culling with a CFM and acoustic sound meter to get rid of the low end ones.

Thermal managment seems like a way bigger offender then semiconductor devices, with magnetics/electromotive being the second biggest offender, volume wise. I feel that the problem can be managed with sufficiently advanced cabinet design though. Being able to make your own chassis out of sheet steel is great though, since sheet steel is easy to store and empty chassis are like a ultra dead space storage item.

I wonder how reliable and what kind of performance you can get from home made 3d printed fans, if there was some kind of design matrix for making a decent fan on a 3d printer with standard motor sizes it would be real nice eh? I am guessing the plastic structure would be far too weak compared to commercial fans though? Then again people make 3d printed guns. Would they balance well enough? I am sure we can all appreciate not being at the mercy of the fan supplier dimensional standards... |O

Like imagine a fan simulator website that you put in dimensions for and it gives you a 3d printable file with reasonable performance and similar size to what you want, that is designed to work with standard bearings and motor module? Like imagine you can make tiny blowers with custom ductwork for cooling your PCB with separate airflows over different parts, to bring that kind of HVAC mentality to a home made chassis that would typically just have two giant fans with chaotic air currents inside of it. It would be easy to do with 3d printed structures. If I try to find those kind of parts commercially to fit my design I feel like I am going crazy, with size issues and costs.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 03:22:13 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline mzzj

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2018, 03:40:23 pm »
I can't stand throwing a high end part away. Especially analog parts, it seems that the more you know about the semiconductor design the more you can appreciate every part for its unique characteristics, even if some of the specs are deemed antiquated.

Oh I know your pain!
Worst thing is that those special parts sit in storage for 20 years because they are too good for this or that project.  ;D
I have same problem in the metalworking shop, nice and shiny 4340 PH Cro-mo steel bars sit in the corner without being used for anything because they are too good material to waste...
 

Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2018, 03:55:41 pm »
I kind of have the same issue but more because I don't really HAVE a lab/work bench yet other than a tiny desk behind my computer desk.  I've been wanting to build a bigger/better computer desk that can double as a work bench as my computer room is basically where I do everything, but my garage is too full of stuff so I don't have room to build anything in there.  It's also too cold or too hot due to not being conditioned space.   So I started building a shed last year which is mostly done now, so that i can empty the garage into it, so I can then fix up the garage, insulate it, bring heat in there etc... once I do all that, I can finally start on that computer desk. Basically it's one project leading to the other, so I can actually start doing more hobby stuff.  I also want to build organizing drawer systems for all my components etc.   Basically the more organized I can get the more motivation I'll have to play around with stuff.  Right now everything is a mess since I don't have a proper place for anything.  I think that's the key, everything needs to have a designated place.
 

Offline alsetalokin4017

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2018, 04:34:58 pm »
You think you've got troubles....       |O
The easiest person to fool is yourself. -- Richard Feynman
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2018, 04:56:55 pm »
It looks like you need a storage room to separate your laboratory from.

I also tend to keep things like amplifiers, specialty measuring equipment, etc not on my work bench, but instead have power cords ready to go to setup a experiment, and that gear sits on a separate shelf like library books. I would consider a drill press near an oscilloscope a room layout fail  :-X

1. perpetually dusty shop with grinding/painting/oil/welding that gets basically pressure washed once in a while, the one where you go into the shower before going anywhere else  :-DD

2. cleaner assembly area with drivers, basic tools, small drill press that's vacuumed after every job, crimp tools, heat shrink, screws, zip ties, limited hand tools/vise for small bends/adjustments ,also maybe used as a disassembly area for tearing down old crap for parts

3. electronics lab.

4. chemical area prone to corrosion
« Last Edit: August 19, 2018, 05:03:27 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline alsetalokin4017

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2018, 05:54:48 pm »
Near? The scope is at least 4 feet (1.3 meters) away from the drill press. They are so far apart I can't even use them both at the same time.    :palm:
The easiest person to fool is yourself. -- Richard Feynman
 
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Offline Kjelt

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2018, 06:12:47 pm »
Yes the same problem, five years ago i put a top on the garage for extra storage but as you expect the more storage the more stuff you get.
There is only one solution, choose. Choose what you want to do and get rid of the rest.
It is hard and hurts but this is also hard and you really don't want to be a hoarder.
 

Offline In Vacuo Veritas

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2018, 02:36:56 pm »


Enough of this materialism. Analyze your personal reasons why you hang on to crap and free yourself.
 

Online mc172

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2018, 02:53:20 pm »
Near? The scope is at least 4 feet (1.3 meters) away from the drill press. They are so far apart I can't even use them both at the same time.    :palm:

Well, the Rigol is...
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2018, 08:48:36 pm »



The only problem with this is it goes into a container straight to china.
If its working and of value, or valuable but not working, would be nice if someone had a chance to look at it or fix it (like the dumpster room).
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: I'm going nuts in my lab - need to get rid of stuff. Advice?
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2018, 09:00:19 pm »
No China banned all import of used electronic garbage earlier this year. Probably Africa.
 
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