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Parts storage / inventory best practices and organization

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Newbie level 6
May 1, 2022
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Having a home lab is creating a challenge with storing parts so that the inventory is known.

The parts storage area has grown, but my memory has limits, and looking at bin after bin is time consuming. Parts and their equivalent are a problem.

The searching I have done on the topic mostly focuses on software because obviously software always solves everything right. It seems quite a bit more labor intensive than it should be, and this could quickly turn into a time suck that builds frustration. Or throw a spreadsheet at it, that always works.

What are the best parts storage ideas and tips that you'd like to share with folks?


Try to get a datasheet for everything, name pdf in logical, categorical way before putting actual part name number. Bins and small boxes - make finding components 'fun' and quicker by making mental associations with what's adjacent or in same box or what else is in that cupboard, etc. Writing out a list of passive and/or other components is also useful, later good for jogging memory, but takes a bit of time. Excel sounds a pretty efficient, painless method, all things considered. Not much choice...

Thank you. The suggestion of a wall mounted rack near the equipment is what I do, and it works.

My issue is more with the storage of parts in a way I can know what I have and find.

For example, I have taken to buying inexpensive screw and bolt bins with a top for transistors. They have 24 bins a piece, and I have each bin labelled either "BJT - some variant" and "MOS - some variant" and with a sharpie I write the part number. Sharpie comes off w alcohol so refactoring bins is ok.

Where is goes south is part numbers. Its cross reference hell, and having all those parts nicely labelled is useless when you have equivalent parts sitting there but no good way to find it. Oddly, its such a ubiquitous problem that you would imagine more effort has gone into solving it, or at least solving it collectively. The software solutions out there are too raw, its mostly just data entry and relies on too much human input.

In terms of "software" I have tried using one of the large distributors website's features to save a group of parts into a project for later recall. There are some benefits to this approach, but the glaring drawback is you have no control of your data - if the website decides to smoke the feature, poof - you're data byebye.

One suggestion I noticed helps me is to rename the datasheets with more descriptive information.

Many data sheets are old and not machine readable text, the filename is often all you have.

Is sharing datasheet stores a thing people do?

There is no general tip on this regard, the amount and proportion of what you have in stock, as well as how they are packaged and arranged will give you insight of the suited classification criteria; due to the lack of such an organization, sometimes I have to purchase another programer or devkit even knowing I already have one here somewhere.
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Part and Inventory Search

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