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What is your solution for keeping and tracking parts?

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Mighty Burger:
What is your solution for keeping and tracking parts?

My current solution is to just not really care. I have one of those Acro-mil cabinets to organize THT resistors. Then I just have a few cardboard boxes, one per project, with a bunch of little bags of components. I have a lot of useful components in those boxes, but it doesn't help me if I don't know I have them, let alone how much I have. As I move onto other projects, I'd like to have some way to easily find out if I already have certain parts on hand.

Here's my brainstorming. I'm thinking I might look into some kind of inventory software. As a hobbyist it should be a stupid simple one. Maybe I could quickly make one, might be a fun programming project. It would just need to list all the parts I have, how much I have, and where they are physically located. Could probably tack on some neat BOM functionality to quickly create a shopping list for an upcoming build. And maybe something to print labels, but I'd need a label printer. This kind of software has to already exist elsewhere I'm sure.

It'd be a bit of a hassle to have to go on the computer and mark whenever I use a part or put it back in my stock, but keeping everything organized may be worth it. I might keep it separate from "uncontrolled stock" for stuff like THT resistors I use for breadboarding, where I really don't want to deal with the hassle of tracking parts.

But then comes the problem of actually storing parts. How do you do it? I'm sure the best solution is to use a variety of methods, simply because electrical components vary wildly in physical size. Storage appropriate for SMD 0603 parts probably wouldn't be appropriate for transformers or big metal heatsinks. Those plastic tackle boxes are neat, but the separators can lift up and small SMD parts can sneak through. I'd need a way to track all of these locations in the stock "database".

There's a few ideas, but I'm struggling to put everything together and make a plan.

abquke:
My company got rolling wire racks that came with plastic bins that have worked out great for me. I labeled them with tags as well as row-column numbers.

As for inventory, I started out with a spreadsheet. It actually becomes a precious bit of data if you cultivate it as you go.

Eventually my company got a program by the name of Fishbowl that keeps track of inventory and other things. Probably overkill for a company with less than 10 people.

nctnico:
I've been using an MS Access database since forever. But I don't keep track of all components. The trick is to only organise components that you are likely to use regulary and just throw away excess components from a project. Storage & organisation cost time & money as well! Also settle on a limited number of SMT sizes. Currently I have mostly 0603, some 1206 and some 0402.

For storing SMT components, the best way is to use little bins with a flip top. I have a whole bunch of these:


You can organise these in small 'tablets'. For me a 5x5 sized tablet works well.

And don't bother with printing stickers. Utter waste of time. Buy a fine tipped waterproof pen and just write what is in the bin.

Last but not least: invest in some bigger bins (like Bito RK3209) to keep parts of a project together.

ledtester:

--- Quote from: Mighty Burger on July 09, 2022, 08:59:56 pm ---...
But then comes the problem of actually storing parts. How do you do it? I'm sure the best solution is to use a variety of methods, simply because electrical components vary wildly in physical size. Storage appropriate for SMD 0603 parts probably wouldn't be appropriate for transformers or big metal heatsinks. Those plastic tackle boxes are neat, but the separators can lift up and small SMD parts can sneak through. I'd need a way to track all of these locations in the stock "database".
...

--- End quote ---

My general approach has been plastic bags (of various sizes depending on the component) in boxes which stack. An example:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/resistor-kit/msg3578649/#msg3578649

There a couple of small cardboard boxes in the mix (tops made from manila folder stock). In the first picture you can see some strips of SMD components in the upper right -- they are also in a plastic bag and each strip is labeled.

You'll note that not all the resistors are in the small bags and I'm fine with that -- I know this box is where I'll find my resistors.

I have another literature mailer box similarly divided with my transistors/voltage regulators/and other stuff and another one with just caps.

gbaddeley:
KISS applies. I use a spreadsheet with columns for part number, description, quantity, location, cost, source, date purchased, comments. All small parts are in see through plastic bags labelled using permanent marker, and sorted into various size boxes. Bigger items in clear plastic take away containers and larger clear plastic boxes, making it easy to visually locate things.

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