How do you keep invertory of your parts?

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I'm wandering how do you catalog your parts at home, to know is you already have something or neet do buy for a project?

I have many bags (yeah, no drawer) full of parts, and sometimes I feel I have ordered parts I already have somewhere...

I am thinking of a catalog program to keep the amount of the parts I have, which could decrease the amounts with multiple BOM lists.

So I am wandering are there any BOM managers, or something similar?
A few times I thought about a spreadsheet, maybe linked to a set of storage drawers with an index, but I never got around to it.

One problem is the cost. Storage units are quite expensive. I have thousands of parts. It would cost a good deal to have a comprehensive storage facility.

Then there's the effort.

Then there's maintaining the system.

I have a petty good idea what I've got. It's piled up all over the place. Funny, I can mostly lay my hands on what I need. Maybe it would be more effort organizing it than occasionally having to hunt for a part. Hunting for a part keeps me up-to-date with where everything is...
We had a thread recently about parts storage. I have a commercial shop, and I have a bunch of those 60-drawer plastic storage units, but I accumulate parts faster than I can buy drawer units and certainly faster than I can find shelf space for the things at 18" tall. One sugestion I made, and one I use for small loose parts is manila envelopes. They call them coin envelopes. I like the ones that are roughly 3x6 inches. But also use some larger ones.

I can write on the flap of each envelope the part number and some basic specs, like "15v zener 1w" or "2SC3198 TO92 NPN 60v 0.15A" And one shoe box can hold just a ton of those envelopes. Small parts like resistors and diodes do not need a whole drawer in a bin, 100 1N4148 diodes just covers the bottom of the drawer, leaving mostly empty space.

I have a notebook, listing the part types in stock, so I can just look down teh diodes or the zeners or the whatevers and see that I stock them or not.

There is shop management software that will maintain inventory, but for my little shop, it would take too much time to enter inventory into stock and enter all the sales data too. When I use a part, I am looking at the remaining inventory, and can see it needs to go on the restock list or not without a computer involved.

And looking at it, this is all pretty much the same thing counter culture said.
I know what you are talking about here..

I had (mostly gone now) habit of trolling vendor web sites and Ebay for "deals" and then buying them. The idea was to amass the stuff I would need to carry out various projects: capacitors, diodes, transformers, rectifiers, resistors, wire, cable, input and power receptacles, amplifier boards, etc., etc., etc. At one point I realized that I had been duplicate buying on more than one occasion, because I had not remembered that I had purchased the exact same thing about 6 months earlier! That's when I decided to "take stock" of what I had amassed.

I created a Word document. It is separated into various categories of parts and with a description and "stock level" for each item. I've found this to be helpful for planning and I've cut down on the "random buying".

So it can be as simple as that. Make a list and check it twice. Word has a search feature that lets me find stuff fast, or I can just scroll thru and refresh my memory now and then.

Microsoft Excel, which has search functions and sort functions. Then I have a few of those plastic multi-drawer boxes. Things are organized by arbitrary grouping, like "polar capacitors", "nonpolar capacitors", "1/4 watt resistors", diodes, RCA phono jacks, etc . . .

It also helps to only buy the bare minimum of what I need. So if I need 4 capacitors, but get a price break at 10, buy 4. And never buy something I don't need because it's a good deal.

Also: everything from Mouser or DigiKey comes in plastic bags with the catalog # and a brief description on them. I never take a part out of the bag until it's ready to be used.
I've been meaning to do this for a long time. Sometimes I can't find some resistors and have to go out and buy them again. Not too big a problem but the issue is that they now sell only in 100's pack ! So it becomes essential to be able to locate what I have.
I had started with transparent plastic boxes about 9x9x12 inches. But if parts are dumped in boxes all together it still requires time to sort them out .

So now I put them in zip lock bags with a large paper label inside that says what the parts are. So one plastic box holds a lot of stuff and it's easy to find the parts. The zip lock bag size depends on what it is and how many I generally buy at a time. I keep four sizes of bags. The larger ones for electrolytic capacitors relays etc.

Right now I have started 'bagging' at least three to five boxes a day. I'm confident that everything will be sorted out by this month end. Should have done this long long ago. The boxes will also be tagged so that I know what kind of parts are inside.

Maybe also put the list on the computer so that I know what is left over without searching in the boxes which will still take 'some' time. Tubes are especially a problem. I don't remember what I have and so sometimes I buy it again ! This really has to end ! Transformers too !

The drive to fix this issue now started because I have just one LM4780 chip and recently got a board for it but couldn't locate the chip. I still have not found it but I'm sure it will appear soon !:)
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I use the same method as Enzo for my passives and I bought some ESD bags from Uline for the semi's. I only kept what I thought I could use and I am still overwhelmed. As of late I just order the parts I need from Digikey for a new project. It is easier and faster than trying to find the parts I have in the storage unit. Inventory software? I tried using Parts & Vendors but it was too much effort to maintain. I still end up at the same place, it is easier to just order it than find it.
I've got parts in zip-lock bags by decade, then in plastic bins by type of part. All resistors in one bin, film and disc capacitors in one bin, electrolytic capacitors in one bin, wire and connectors in one bin, inductors in two bins, fuses and holders in one bin, thermistors and sensors in a bin, tubes in 3 bins. Transistors in one bag, thyristors in one, diodes and rectifiers in one, zeners in one, etc. Most of it all fits on top of an organ speaker in the music/electronics room. Transformers and some tubes live in the attic. Where I get a bag of new parts, I sort the old parts out of the jumble (decade) of that value into that bag. The new ones are obviously metal film, the old ones carbon comp, usually. When I'm looking for bargains I make paper lists of the values I'm missing (1.2, 2.2, 2.4, 2.7 etc) in the bag so I don't buy parts I'm not missing. Those are little squares of paper that live in the decade bag, not big 8 1/2x11 sheets. When I have a new project I write the bom on paper and check off what is in the bins before I build it. I'm usually missing a semi or something for a new project, but the list of RC parts is getting fairly complete. I've recently used parts I put away in 1970 out of old R**** S***** grab bags, so the system is working. Trolling for bargains, if one uses the upper and lower controls of one often finds certain values or sizes not exact on sale. As low as $.006 each for 1/4 watt resistors for example. For example I need 2.7k, 2.61k 1% is on sale this week. I don't buy anything less than a dollar from suppliers usually, I buy enough quantity to make a dollar worth. That saves me on freight, $8 minimum. I don't find mouser to have sales as much on RC parts but their semis can be attractively priced. Electrolytic caps on sale are not always a bargain, those I try to keep fairly fresh, and have thrown out the bargain ones I bought in the seventies.
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If all you are doing is ordering parts for a project, then I'd agree, you don't need a ton of extra parts. But when 1/4w resistors are 15 cents each or about a penny in 100 lot, I buy the dollar's worth because I will use resistors in anything I work on. I mean for my dollar I can get 6 or 7 resistors or I can get 100 of them. If your shop is more than a one-off project on the kitchen table, then a stock of common values of common parts is worth having. 11.2 ohms? Maybe not, but 1.5k, 220k, 10k, , etc. you bet I stock them in bulk. 5w 0.33 ohms and 0.22 ohms, I buy 10 at a time just because one repair can use that many.
Electrolytic caps for power supplies should generally be from reputed manufacturers. I have some ( even with screw terminals !) that appeared to be leaking about 5 years down the line. And they weren't even used. So that goes into the down the drain !:mad:
I can keep a partial mental inventory from searching through my junkbox. I also use an old shareware program, Collect! by Alston Software Labs, to keep a lot of parts organized. It has customizable fields, and I've made a few different data files for passives (R/C/L), actives, other passives (switches, connectors, etc.), hardware. It's convenient to have the information on the computer when ordering online.
Thanks for all the input.
Good to know I am not alone in the home chaos. :) I try to collect things in bags, boxes, envelopes, even small sort drawers but many times I open an "other" labelled bag or something for parts I do not know if ever will be needed. But who knows. Mostly rare parts hurt to get lost, because it is hard to find locally, and expensive to buy in small quantity from abroad.
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