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Good IC / Electronic Component Inventory Software?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-have-we-here? dept.

Databases 70

Smerky writes "As I've been getting more and more into hobby electronics I have been finding it difficult to keep track of all the different ICs and other electronics that I have (resistors, capacitors, etc.). What are Slashdotters' recommendations for some inventory software? Certain qualifications that I'd be looking for personally are that it has to run on Linux/OSX well or be web-based (to run well on an Apache2 server)."

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Bags (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32811978)

Lots and lots of bags? I've been running into this problem as well, especially with LEDs of different brightness and color. I look forward to this thread's responses.

Database (2, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812112)

This is a simple database problem.

You could throw something together, or just make a nice organized list in a spreadsheet. With appropriate filters it can be quite useable.
For only a few hundred/thousand items spreadsheets make nice databases.

The big problem is keeping it up to date, that's where you'll likely run into trouble.

Re:Database (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812274)

My thoughts exactly. Start off with a plain text "database" - one component per line; just to get the feel of the columns that will suit your needs. Then off you go to either sqlite (my choice) or a full blown MySQL. And to further my redundancy here: yes indeed, the tricky bit, no matter how glitzy a database you end up with, is to keep going back and entering new parts as you scrap them. Not to be too discouraging, but i'd wager you'll end up just chucking each new resistor in the resistor bin and t'hell with entering its tolerance and value.

Re:Database (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32826830)

My thoughts exactly. Start off with a plain text "database" - one component per line; just to get the feel of the columns that will suit your needs. Then off you go to either sqlite (my choice) or a full blown MySQL. And to further my redundancy here: yes indeed, the tricky bit, no matter how glitzy a database you end up with, is to keep going back and entering new parts as you scrap them. Not to be too discouraging, but i'd wager you'll end up just chucking each new resistor in the resistor bin and t'hell with entering its tolerance and value.

You would be better off using PostgreSQL as it is far more scalable than sqlite or mysql

Re:Database (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812276)

It might be that he is tired of his spreadsheet and wants to take it a step up in terms of user interfacing. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets allow you to program VB into them, which definately bumps it up a notch, but he mentions OSX/Linux - so I don't know if he's using Excel. I actually haven't looked into programming into something like Open Office's spreadsheet (I mean, I know there are plugins and add-ons, but that isn't exactly what I'm talking about).

Anyways, I think the idea is that he wants a little bit more out of it.

Re:Database (1)

cavehamster (457176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32814534)

Here's the solution I use to inventory my electronic components.

First, I have a database setup using anyInventory ( http://anyinventory.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] ) that catalogs the important bits, ie:

  My 'part number' (which I put on schematics so I know what I used)
  Vendor, price, Vendor part (for re-order and quick costing of a project)
  Manufacturer, part, link to datasheet, part photo
  Value, tolerance, power rating, package, etc
  Location (more below)
  Quantity on hand/order
  geda footprint (for geda's PCB http://www.gpleda.org/index.html [gpleda.org] )

My internal part numbering system is a 3x4 part number, ie, 100-0001, where the first 3 digits are a category of part (resistor, 74 series, whatever) and the 4 digit is just a number I assign to make it unique. This allows me to specify my part number on a schematic or BOM along with the refdes and value so I know exactly the part and footprint I need.

Secondly, I have a series of drawer cabinets, bins, etc as needed to store the parts, each labeled with drawer, cabinet, shelf (usually with a barcode for some future fun with a barcode reader).

Why go to all the bother? Seriously, I have hundreds and hundreds of parts. I work on circuits for a living, and trust me, not having the organized blows.

I started on another project at one point in time that would automate assigning parts to a 'product' or 'project' so you could wasily generate invoices or costing, but I have not completed it yet. I'll probably get back into that this year, though.

Re:Database (1)

whit3 (318913) | more than 4 years ago | (#32817412)

You could throw something together, or just make a nice organized list in a spreadsheet. With appropriate filters it can be quite useable.
For only a few hundred/thousand items spreadsheets make nice databases.

I'll second this. There's lots of gobbledygook numbering schemes on
transistors and ICs, and having a spreadsheet that reminds you
that the TL494 was used in the Casio power supply (or whatever)
is very useful. Knowing that it was $0.83 from Mouser in 2003
is also useful. You can't easily replace that info from an
internet search, so KEEP IT in the database.

If you buy a bag of 100 house-labeled 7805 voltage regulators,
add that house number to your database.

Searching for all diodes, and examining the voltage and current ratings,
also fits a spreadsheet listing model. Having lots of parts on one
screen helps here

My spreadsheet has columns for part number, known uses,
functional type (NPN or NPN power or NMOS...) supplier and price,
and of course you can add any kind of info that suits your mental
model of importance.

For resistors and capacitors, which DON'T have long part
descriptions/part numbers, I generally like the big-array-of-drawers
parts organizers. Low-value resistors (under ten ohms) on
the top row, 100 ohm to 1000 ohm on the second row,
etc.

Re:Database (1)

sethmeisterg (603174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32823200)

Speaking from experience, I've used a spreadsheet to track inventory, but it's a pain to update. If money is no object, an inventory system that autodecrements the count after you pull the parts is the only way to go. Realistically, you're not going to do that, so just do the best you can with a spreadsheet.

Why? (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812122)

Why do you need something like that when you can just buy some plastic compartments [sourcingmap.com] ?

Re:Why? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812320)

Seconded. My component "database" consists of about 50 vitamin bottles, sticky labels, a sharpee, and a full height shelf.

Re:Why? (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812362)

I'm using LOTS and LOTS of matchboxes glued together. With labels.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812352)

A good source for those is, surprise, craft stores. For some reason, having "bead storage" on the box suddenly makes it cheaper than the exact same thing at a hardware/electronics store. I recently picked up some 24 bin 12"x12" boxes for $2 each.

Keep your ESD sensitive components in their bags, though.

Re:Why? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812398)

Yeah. I even cheaped out a step further and just went with sorting everything into assorted sizes of Ziploc bags. Use a permanent marker to write down what's in them. You can use a hole punch and then hang them from a pegboard or in a filing cabinet or whatever. Also works great for Lego bricks or for that mess of pens/pencils and other junk in your drawers.

If you really must track how many of each resistance, etc. you have, go with a simple spreadsheet. I've never seen a more sophisticated system with barcodes and scanners actually save time for anyone, especially if there's only one person using it.

That said, I now wonder if the Google Goggles app for Android phones could automatically read resistor stripe codes... not that it will save any time, but I'll have to try it out when I get home :P

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

reemrevnivek (1537039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812964)

Why do you need something like that when you can just buy some plastic compartments [sourcingmap.com] ?

Because the OP is concerned about managing information, not the physical objects, and because most plastic compartments are not ESD safe, and the ones that are conductive (designed for IC storage) may be prohibitively expensive.

Re:Why? (1)

iroll (717924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32817996)

In this case, the physical objects themselves, arrayed in any useful storage space, are almost certainly a better medium for information storage/retrieval than a computerized database.

Production Line (1)

matfud (464184) | more than 4 years ago | (#32820178)

Unless you are on a production line you will, as said above, only need a set of small plastic draws to organise your work. In any one day if you do not have component X you can order it and get on with other bits of the work or go out and replenish your stores. If you really need to track it a note book is usefull (paper one). Write down what you think you will need in the near future. Then order it or go out and buy it (order is cheaper if you can get above a certain cost which depends on the suppliers)).

For IC's go to the manufactures web site as many will send you free samples if you check the correct box. Free delivery, free chips. And when you come up with something cool they will like you for it.
Side note: I did have fun once watching the UPS traker for 2 sample chips bounce thier way across the USA (in random directions; sometimes backwards) then across the Atlantic just to arrive with me in a 1' by 1' by 2' box. The two chips were about 5 mm x 5 mm.

Matfud

DIY? (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812128)

I don't mean this in an arrogant fashion or anything, but do you have any programming experience? Inventory Systems are really the easiest kinds of systems to set up, since you generally only have to track what goes in, what goes out, and sometimes what works together.

You can grab a Java for dummies book, maybe SQuirreL, and Eclipse, and have some fun developing an inventory system yourself, the only limits being how much you want to put into it. I mean you didn't mention any special features so its hard to recommend anything I might have heard of.

But yeah, my recommendation, since its all about hobbies, perhaps you could tackle it yourself.

Re:DIY? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812932)

It is hard to get a good epistemology of electronic components. Well, at least when it comes to ICs, it is very hard, for passive ones, it is easy. If there is some free one out there, why not go for it?

Re:DIY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32813112)

@monkeedude1212: you're not only arrogant, but an idiot...Java for Dummies? oi!

The solution is well organized physical storage. (3, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812148)

Forget the software. I purchased a set of storage racks from a hardware store - the kind with 30 little drawers of varying sizes. They're stackable, so you can combine them into a fairly impressive wall of drawers on the back of your workbench. The drawers are somewhat transparent, so it's possible to see when they're empty. I use a label maker to run off stickers for the drawers that say things like "5.6K res" and "10 uF cap."

The reality of electronics is that there are some pieces (dip sockets, 0.1uF caps, 220 ohm resistors, 1N4148 diodes, 7805 voltage regulators) that get used over and over again, so it makes sense just to build a well stocked physical rack. Checking inventory levels periodically is simply a matter of peeking into the drawers and seeing what needs re-ordering. I tend to order resistors, caps and diodes in quantities of at least 100 anyway, just to get more reasonable pricing.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (2, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812410)

That's why I have 1000 each of 100 and 220 ohm resistors. I needed 50 or so of each, but the price breaks were such that:
50 would have been $2.50 (5 cents each)
200 would have been $3.40 (1.7 cents each)
1000 was $8.00 (0.8 cents each)

Got a recommended source for a multivalue resistor kit? I could use one of those for initial stock.

I think for almost any hobbyist, it will be difficult for any software based solution to match the simple approach of physical organization with transparent labeled bins. Lowes sells some good ones at reasonable prices with slide-out drawers, other people use compartmented boxes designed for fishing lures/bait/flies/etc. These are more economical for "lots of small stuff" but a little harder to access since the compartments are top-access.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812494)

Places like Mouser and Digikey sell decent multi-packs of resistors. However, it may make financial sense to just order 10 of your favorite four or five values (unless you're doing extensive analog work, you don't need a broad range of weird values). Don't forget an assortment of caps as well.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

sylvandb (308927) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812610)

http://www.bgmicro.com/RESKRESE3.aspx [bgmicro.com] Not a super price (480 @ 1.5c/ea) or assortment. But happened to see it yesterday.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

DavidWeight (1075593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32813490)

If you're in the UK, http://www.bitsbox.co.uk/ [bitsbox.co.uk] is excellent, good passive component packs, although a lot of time if you're doing analogue design you'll need 1% accurate resistors, preferably in the E196 series, and if you're doing digital you can probably get away with keeping 1ks, 10ks and some resistors for LEDs in stock. Useful for prototyping though

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

brendank310 (915634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32820602)

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32825612)

I should have thought of ebay - that's a great link. 2000 1% metal film resistors for about the same price as Digikey/Mouser want for 240 5% resistors and that other link wanted for about 1000. ($7 for 480 -> $15/1000)

Free shipping too. Thanks for the link!

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32825968)

I just keep a pad on my bench and make a note of anything I am running out of as I work.

More and more places are going to free shipping now so as long as you order 3-4 days before you need the part there is no real need to keep a large stock around. Farnell do free shipping, I think the cut-off being about £15/order. Rapid are minimum £35/order. Bitsbox in the UK charge £1.50 flat rate for any order and their prices are actually considerably better than Rapid and Farnell on some stuff, especially if you want quantities 50.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

clutch110 (528473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812544)

While I agree for the most part I think you may be missing an important facet of a software based inventory system.

With a software based system that is kept up to date you can know without having to count physical items if you have enough parts for a particular project.

Just my quick $0.02 on the subject.

Re:The solution is well organized physical storage (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32813200)

It takes me less time to check my storage rack for oddball parts that I might be short on (Atmega MCUs, for example) than it would to open a database app and query three or four different parts.

Why not ask the experts? (2, Insightful)

O Blimey (1268410) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812168)

A good place to ask this question is on usenet newsgroup sci.electronics.design

make your own asset tracker? (1)

kg261 (990379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812184)

I think a classification and storage system would be more useful than software, but maybe you are talking about a very large number of components. If you want to roll you own, I started a very basic asset tracker using based on PHP. It's maybe slightly more useful than a spreadsheet. You can find it at http://tamb.sf.net/ [sf.net]

Storage (2, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812208)

Get some good storage products so you can see what you have at a glance. Jameco sells stackable plastic bins http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&productId=319600&catalogId=10001&freeText=319600&app.products.maxperpage=15&storeId=10001&search_type=jamecoall&ddkey=https:StoreCatalogDrillDownView [jameco.com] ) that are the best I have found - they are made from clear acrylic, not the frosted polycarbonate that is sold in retail. Use Brother thermal transfer labels with these.

Save the receipts from your component purchases in electronic form so you can search them. This is handy not just for reordering but also if you want the exact part number (to look up the specs) which might not be easily determined by looking at the part.

Finally if you are collecting SMT chip caps/resistors, diodes and transistors, you can use these flip-top cases which let you store 128 different values in a small space. http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_164267_-1 [jameco.com] There isn't much room for labeling so these are best for resistors and caps where you just need to indicate a value for each item, and the other details for the family can be labeled on the outside of the case.

Re:Storage (1)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812416)

A couple more things: for larger items, get yourself some of these: http://www.uline.com/BL_302/Corrugated-Bins [uline.com]

I ordered a few sets of them in varying widths. It turns out the 15" deep ones are exactly the right size to fit in an Ikea office cabinet with the doors closed. That is a cheap, easy, and tidy way to create a huge amount of well organized space for cables, batteries, adaptors, rubber bands, wire ties, computer parts, etc etc.

Finally, you didn't ask about cables but I'm sure you have a bunch of test leads as well as common computer cables that are used occasionally. E-Z-hook is the solution: http://catalog.e-z-hook.com/viewitems/accessories/wire-test-lead-cable-wall-brackets [e-z-hook.com] ?

Re:Storage (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812514)

The best solution for SMT components I've seen is to put the cut tape into labeled 2x3" resealable bags and stuff those into the pockets of a business card binder page. Then put that into a 3 ring binder and use dividers to separate by component type. At work we have a 3" thick binder that houses a hundred each of every imaginable 403 SMT resistor value using this scheme.

Re:Storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32813002)

I really like the Jameco stackable bins. I have about 20 of these in my workroom and their perfect for keeping lots of components. Buy a few extra dividers, you can easily fit 4 values of resistors, diodes, etc in one drawer. The Jameco labels suck big time. I recommend first using post it notes so that you can easily change and add values as you sort through everything. Once your happy with it just grab some printer labels and make the final ones.

Don't use a database, it wont work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32812212)

Do you see yourself sitting at your computer changing your database every time you used a couple of components?

Here's how many do it: get a couple of these racks [kg-uitdaging.nl] . Buy resistors, capacitors and small semiconductors in bulk and don't worry about running out. When the bottom of the storage container gets visible, order more.

For the larger (and/or more expensive parts) order online when you need them, and just order a few more than you need. You build a nice inventory that way and you'll only stock what you actually use.

Label each container, group them in logical groups. That's all.

storage solutions are no replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32812326)

I've been faced with a similar problem, and I have multiple storage compartments, but they really don't help as much as real software would.

With hundreds of different possible combinations of component values, tolerances and sizes, physical organizational storage solutions only goes so far.

I can only assume that the OP already has decent storage, because any electronic hobbyist who doesn't will be batshit insane within a few years.

I want... (4, Funny)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812330)

...a piece of highly-specific software capable of keeping inventory of all my electronic components. It needs to be able to track resistance of my resistors, capacitance of my capacitors, and I want it to remind me when my wife's birthday is.

Certain qualifications that I'd be looking for personally are that it has to run on Linux/OSX, specifically kernel series 2.6.27, versions 32 through 43 non-inclusive, but only the odd numbered releases. If it's OSX, then it must support the 64-bit XNU kernels on PowerPC hardware. Or it can be web-based, in which case I need it to run on Apache2, specifically PHP4 so it's compatible with Worker-MPM. I'd also prefer that it prefers Informix servers over MySQL or PostgreSQL. Lighttpd and nginx are completely out of the question, even though they all do the same goddamn thing.

Oh, and for legal reasons it has to be licensed under the Death and Repudiation License (DPL)!

Re:I want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32813970)

D&R (Death and Repudiation) License

This software may not be used directly by any living being. ANY use of this software (even perfectly legitimate and non-commercial uses) until after death is explicitly restricted. Any living being using (or attempting to use) this software will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

For your protection, corpses will not be punished. We respectfully request that you submit your uses (revisions, uses, distributions, uses, etc.) to your children, who may vicariously perform these uses on your behalf. If you use this software and you are found to be not dead, you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

If you are found to be a ghost or angel, you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

After your following the terms of this license, the author has vowed to repudiate your claim, meaning that the validity of this contract will no longer be recognized. This license will be unexpectedly revoked (at a time which is designated to be most inconvenient) and involved heirs will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Furthermore, if any parties (related or non-related) escape the punishments outlined herein, they will be severely punished to the fullest extent of a new revised law that (1) expands the statement "fullest extent of the law" to encompass an infinite duration of infinite punishments and (2) exacts said punishments upon all parties (related or non-related).

Re:I want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32816254)

There's an app for that.

Zparts on Sourceforge (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32812538)

I have used this program to store information on my electronics and has done what I have asked of it. It is cross platform and open source also. http://sourceforge.net/projects/zparts/

Re:Zparts on Sourceforge (1)

reemrevnivek (1537039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32813254)

This looks like a good start!

I've been looking for similar software as well. It's a challenge to categorize and stock parts, probably more so than a simple spreadsheet or a first try at inventory management can handle. How to categorize a part may be very different throughout different use cases - Whether you need a 555, any old adjustable LDO, a low-leakage diode, or a 1k resistor makes for a wide variety of storage mechanisms. In addition, it's probably good to keep a few sources and manufacturers available for many of the parts...

Will have to give that a try!

Most parts will not be static anyway... (2, Insightful)

slipnfall (472801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812558)

I think you'll come to find that aside from every-day components (caps, resistors, voltage regulators, etc), most of your projects will end up using *some* sort of specialized part.

Unless you are running a small business, you're wasting your time with any database.

My reccomendation - sure, combine caps, resistors, LEDs, etc, into either those 50-drawer wall-mount storage bins (for leaded), or 'bug' cases with the little flip-top lids (as mentioned above) for SMT parts.

Otherwise, organize specialized parts via 'project' boxes - keep all of the unique parts with the project. You'll remember "hey, I used a nice D/A converter on that retro-redbox", go to the box, dig out the original pkg, blamo, the part number you need to lookup specs.

Keep a small dry-erase board near your 'warehouse' to jot down part #'s as they become low - when you've accumulated enough parts to justify an order, they're all there in one place.

no perfect answer (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812742)

Parts&Vendors [trilogydesign.com] is a good program geared toward what you're wanting, but it's Windows only. You might see if the trial version will run under WINE.

You will find it difficult (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32812984)

No matter which software you find, buy or build, inventory is always difficult.

You have a virtual "inventory" in the database, and a real inventory of actual parts. Keeping the two synchronized takes a lot of discipline.

It's really easy to grab a part when you are in a hurry, and forget to update the database.

Or, grab 11 parts, and enter 10 in the database.

Even the professionals find it difficult.

Overkill (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32812994)

Database software, for inventory tracking or for anything else, only becomes a desirable solution when dealing with HUGE quantities (that is hundreds of thousands or millions) of individual items. For personal collections of various sorts, involving at most several hundred different articles, database software becomes far more trouble than it ever could be worth.

Yet people continue to be beguiled by the power of their PCs and apply them to personal address books, calendars, CD collections, etc. Such things are far more efficiently maintained using traditional methods like books and ledgers.

Get realistic. Forget the inventory software and use a pencil and paper.

Might I recommend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32813508)

Might I recommend that you first develop the circuit fabrication AI software, and mechanical fab environment that would necessitate you needing software tracking of component organization in physical compartments?

Once you get that done, and well documented, post to either hackaday or instructables so that we can both praise and chastise you for your endeavors. Use of an Atmega is optional, but recommended.

Organizer. (1)

falzer (224563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32813740)

This is unrelated to your software request, but get vertical organizers rather than flat organizers. Desk space is at a premium.

Also, make an automatic inventory system with a force sensor on each compartment to give a rough-guess of the remaining quantity of components. You just need to program in the component average weight and type.

Everyone does it this way.

Having done industrial ERP for several years... (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32813830)

So you want to build 100 doodads using 10 sub-assembly widgets you've already built plus 90 more identical widget sub-assemblies you have to make but you only want to have to purchase enough parts to build the 90 taking into account the 10 you've already built, and you have to comparison shop between 10 different vendors who all have different names for the same part, and half of whom have changed the part number for the part since the last time you've bought it, and the doodad you're trying to build has a bill-of-materials hierarchy 10 levels deep. Add vendor traceability just for kicks so you know who sells you bad capacitors for only the other 90 you have to build.

Simple spreadsheet/plastic boxes ain't gonna cut it at this level.

Headsmack (1)

bkeahl (1688280) | more than 4 years ago | (#32814306)

Well, I'm embarrassed. I started out keeping my inventory in a spreadsheet. Then I got lazy and quit doing that. Finally, whenever I would pull a component from one of those plastic drawers a previous poster had mentioned, I'd peer inside and think to myself "I'm running a little low on 10k resisters, I'd better get more."

I'd never thought to have an inventory program ...

physical organisation is OK, but it is not enough (1)

weeb0 (741451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32814338)

I works as an electronic engineer and I have a lot of parts I use for my different projects. When I start a new project, I have to use the same components, where it is necessary to have a database. I already used the phpinventory : http://www.phpwares.com/ [phpwares.com] And if you need something better, there is openbravo http://www.openbravo.com/ [openbravo.com] which is a real ERP ( based on Compiere ) which I plan to use for my new company. But as said before by someone else, it takes a lot of time and discipline to maintain such database, but it is very powerfull. If you create pcb, EAGLE ( http://www.cadsoftusa.com/ [cadsoftusa.com] ) you can use a database when you create BOM and the software populate directly the BOM with the good components, which help you to keep your standard components.

Use SAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32814354)

I'd set up stock locations and use SAP to keep track of and consume stock.

Just use a database (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32816306)

I cobbled together a quickie in MySQL. I had a parts table that defined the parts, a category table to classify (E.g. resistor, capacitor, mylar-cap, etc.) and then an inventory table to capture on hand quantities. Tied it up in an MS Access front end and it works for my needs.

Any real suggestions? (1)

PaulIsTheName (1646771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32817556)

Wow, this is really bad: Most comments completely ignore the possibility (fact that is) that there actually is a need for such a software.
A simple software for inventory (including location), simple order gathering (multi-account so group orders are possible), order processing, tracking and delivery checking with superb usability (we actually want to build something - not massage data into a half-assed DB frontend) is really missing from the landscape! At least in the open source area where I looked.

So please, think twice before you turn down the question!

go mad & all the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32817674)

yes, good physical organisation is all you need for a basic system, but I can also see a great application which is more than a mere catalog. How about a db that not only tracks what you have, but has knowledge of what the parts are (maybe interrogating an online source(s) ?) So lets say you need a multiplexor....it would be nice to type in 'multiplexor' and then have your db tell you if you already have one or not, and show you the datasheet for what you have. Now that would be a real time saver unless you're completely proficient at remembering what IC number does what. Maybe go mad.....type in the parameters of a transistor you need, or even look for substitutes (Towers book?)

Chef's Pantry (1)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32817818)

I take the pantry approach, and always keep commonly used components in stock. When place orders online I do a quick glance over what I have in my little plastic boxes and restock on things that I'm be running low on. My problem isn't inventory management. Its finding a good local source for various components in Atlanta. Fry's is limited and some of the mom & pop stores are hit or miss.

Though it would be cool to put some QRcode stickers all over the place and create an inventory management app for android that updates a database sitting on the LAN or something.

Organization database (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32818852)

I have to agree with some people here that for a typical tinkerer, a database management system is unwieldy due to the massive amount of specialty parts that I only have 1 of, anyway. So, I tend to have to search through parts every time unfortunately, but keeping parts organized in proper bins make it much easier to search through. I do keep text file "databases" of some parts but mostly due to translation of part number to characteristics (transistors). IC's, resistors, capacitors, etc. don't really have substitutes anyway so they get all tossed into a sorted bin... sorted by function or value. (As I get more op amps into the collection, they may end up having to be sorted similar to the transistors as they too can potentially be swapped out for one another.)

Since I'm not actually manufacturing something, this is OK in my opinion... I don't have to worry about something out of stock, since it's sorted I can potentially find a substitute nearby as they tend to be sorted into the same bin. If I end up needing something that I don't have, I'll know fairly quickly and it's time to order/locate one. Not like I really have to do predictive purchasing to make sure manufacturing assembly doesn't hiccup due to being out of a particular component...

(I would really hate to have to update my database every time I swipe a component for a temporary experiment... and forget to update it if the temp experiment turned out to be a permanent solution...)

I've been looking for something similar too (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818860)

Not so much for standard parts, but more for oddball stuff that I "think I have some", design something around it, and then can't find it.

The bins are necessary, for sure. But they're not the end all. I hate looking through a thousand bins for a part you may or may not have (memory ain't as hot as it used to be). I must have a thousand+ different vacuum tubes, FFS. I don't know how many different ICs I have, but it's pretty ridiculous.

Of course, even if I had the thing, I probably wouldn't be too good about marking things as used, but... at least I could.

What I use (1)

Xamusk (702162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32818992)

I use plain osCommerce. Has good features to track what needs buying in an inventory. Also, it's good, though not necessary, to reference which drawer gets what. If not using drawer references, just keeping stuff categorized on the drawers works too. As noted by other commenters, the problem is keeping it up-to-date. Don't even bother tracking resistor/capacitor usage. Just buy a lot of them to have stock... you'll notice when one of them runs too low. The best reason to keep such inventory is for those parts that are not that common, which you may have few but want to keep control.

cat and grep (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32820040)

Seriously, a text file with one line per component. To find one, use your editor's find command.

Use a Wiki ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32820176)

Hi,

I have a bigger and bigger inventory of electronic parts (thank you eBay !) and the solution that I have found is ... a wiki.

One page per type of part, little tables, links to the datasheets, buying dates, prices, number of units bought, drawer location, whatever properties, values and characteristics...

Unlike a classic database, I can thus manage type-specific characteristics : I don't need to define a "capacity" field for non-capacitor parts for example.

It is also easily dumped and a search engine is available in my wiki flavor.

Now that I think about it : I could even fork the wiki codebase or add a plugin that adds inventory features, let's call it "inventowiki" :-)

but as it is now it works so i'm happy, however one must not forget to update the data often ! outdated data are useless data, it requires some discipline :-/

have fun,
anon

zparts looks most promising (1)

Smerky (1849100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32820564)

Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I've got to say that I know physical storage can be very nice. But when I'm limited to storage space because I'm a college student then I need something to keep track of what I have. I've got my parts semi-organized in a fishing tackle box but it's not a very precise organization, which is why I'm looking for some sort of software to keep track of what I've got. I'm not look for any DIY setup because I honestly don't have the time commitment to put into something like that. From what I've seen of the suggestions I think that zparts ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/zparts/ [sourceforge.net] ) is probably best suiting to what I'm looking for. Thanks everyone

Re:zparts looks most promising (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32820984)

Oh well, there ya go.

I was going to suggest Access or Openoffice Base. If you had just a few hours of experience under your belt using these programs. You could whip up something to suit your needs in less than an hour. I would suggest having just one big table with a few fields like qty, part number/name, category, keywords, purchase source, storage location, bool checkout.. Then make a search form, and add few input boxes for adjusting qty, whether or not the part is in use, etc...

Re:zparts looks most promising (1)

cavehamster (457176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32829184)

Howdy,

I posted above, but I think things were lost in the noise. I've been using anyInventory ( http://anyinventory.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] ) for my electronics catalog. The bonus is that it is a web interface, so you can use any web browser to view/search/edit your inventory, which is a big plus over zparts, I think.

I have it setup to track these fields:

    My 'part number' (which I put on schematics so I know what I used)
    Vendor, price, Vendor part (for re-order and quick costing of a project)
    Manufacturer, part, link to datasheet, part photo
    Value, tolerance, power rating, package, etc
    Location (more below)
    Quantity on hand/order
    geda footprint (for geda's PCB http://www.gpleda.org/index.html [gpleda.org] [gpleda.org])

My internal part numbering system is a 3x4 part number, ie, 100-0001, where the first 3 digits are a category of part (resistor, 74 series, whatever) and the 4 digit is just a number I assign to make it unique. This allows me to specify my part number on a schematic or BOM along with the refdes and value so I know exactly the part and footprint I need.

Secondly, I have a series of drawer cabinets, bins, etc as needed to store the parts, each labeled with drawer, cabinet, shelf (usually with a barcode for some future fun with a barcode reader).

Anyway, I hope that helps.

Re:zparts looks most promising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32832928)

fishing tackle trays work well, they are stackable, inexpensive and adjustable.

Cool (1)

west.to.east (867173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32822324)

Cool, man. I like electronics, too.

MYSQL and PHP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32823724)

I have set up a MYSQL database with all the components I use. This database also connects into the CAD tool (Altium). Then in the database I store everything about the component from company part numbers to vendor and datasheet links. Since I mainly use digikey for parts I also wrote a script which periodically will go through my database and update with digikey price and availability. The net result is that I know everything and I am not locked into any software and as such I can make it all work together.
The PHP is used for all the scripting and user interfacing, for example I have a script which prints out the Avery labels for the storage bins from the database.

GCStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32875010)

http://www.gcstar.org/index.en.php
User defined collections are easy to set up and you can freely access and edit the source code should you be so compelled.

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