Parts…What to do with them?

How I’ve started to organise all my parts

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Over the last few years my collection of parts has been rapidly growing, rather uncontrollably (I admit I have maker addiction) much to my girlfriends dismay (she calls me ‘professor’), if you ever see what my front room looks like you’ll understand. Most All of the time it looks like a bomb has hit it, I have parts everywhere! Some opened, some not, some in tubs, all in every form of dis-organisation possible, it would give someone with OCD, well OCD, so I really need to do something about it.

What I currently do

Most of the parts I get are usually faily small and the crack den of choice most of my ordering is via aliexpress, these parts arrive in packages of various sizes, from small yellow envelopes to boxes. As delivery can take anywhere from a week to a month, I usually order up what I need from the cvarious vendors for whatever project I’m currently working on, then move on the my next area of interest or revist an old one while I’m waiting for the parts to arrive.

During this time, my orders start to trickle in, me the organised person I am:

  1. opens them up to see what I’ve received,
  2. then I put them down in a clear space on my desk or bench,
  3. then at some time later they get moved to Pile A to makeway for more parts as they arrive,
  4. I then run out of desk space so Pile A might get split to Piles B…..Z around the house in various Tubs, don’t laugh until you’ve seen my house 🙂
  5. time to work on that project….now where did I put those parts?????

So you get the picture…

What I need to do

There for I need a system that allows me to easily and quickly update then organise my parts as I arrive home while the parts are in my hot little hands, something I need to do first before anything else (doh!)

I’ve been looking around for open source/free solutions that will allow me to do this as 1) I don’t want to wite anything myself and 2) I also didn’t want to install and manage MySQL or apache/PHP installations and 3) it needed to be flexible for me in terms of categorys and how it handles locations.

The Solution

Enter Partsbox.io a free cloud base inventory managment for makers.

I’m not usually a fan of cloud based services, I like ownership and control, as I dont like relying on other external influences incase the for whatever reasion go away. But I need something I can start using now with out installing any software, something searchable thats easily accessible from work if I need to do any ordering. I’d also like to know what I’ve already got for any new projects so I don’t double or even tripple up, yes its happened to me on more than one occasion <hangs head in shame>

If the parts on Octopart then most of the hard work has been done for you. You’ll even get a linked data sheet. bonus!

Tags on each part are now supported in the latest release (read their blog post) and this allows you to do away with tradional categories, a much more flexible scheme.

Also to satisfy my concerns of using a cloud service, I can easily download/backup my data in a JSON format with a click of a button.

Physical Locations

So in addtion to quickly adding parts to a database I need to quickly add them to a physical location, them means I need to label my part bins, I dont like to just write on things in my crappy habndwriting (I do have some standards you know) I like printed labels and in the past I use my handheld label machine, but this takes too long, one of the reasons I dont end up doing it.

I purchasing a Brother label printer that connects directly to my computer and I now have it sitting on my desk attached to my computer all the time. The software is easy to use and it can spit out any size label I need quickly even incrementing number fields.

What to store them in?

Working in IT I have access ot oodles of old DLT tape covers, I keep any covers they throw away so is perfect size for small things so most of my small boards and parts are kept it.

I also have a heap of General size storage Tubs and a large amount of the Tactix storage Trays

Because parts.io is very flexible with the lcoations I can easily re-lable or re-organise if I outgrow.

My bin labeling scheme

So far my storage naming schema is very simple – A single letter denoting storage type, and then an incremental number. Then another incremental sub location/bin within this if so needed.

e.g. A1, B1 or C1-1 if it has internal bins

where:

A = DLT Tape coversB = General Storage TubsC = Tactix storage trays from bunnings (https://www.bunnings.com.au/tactix-16-compartment-organiser-storage-box_p2580700)

As I store the DLT in a Tub these then become bins inside the Tub and becomes B1-A1 within Partsbox.io.

This may not be the most efficient or effective but so far is simple and I may revist at a future time, but its a start.

Making a Start

Last Saturday we had our monthly maker meeting, as I have’nt been working on anything in particular I decided to that this woudl be a good time to sit down and start organising, so I filled a couple of tubs full of parts to be organised, label printer in hand I proceeded to start my organisation process, quite relaxing way to spend the afternoon actually.

Cedit: Paul Hamiliton

 

Cedit: Paul Hamiliton

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Author: Stephen Eaton

Geek at heart. Loves to tinker and find out how things work, which inevitably leads to items in pieces and not working for much longer :)

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