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Good IC / Electronic Component Inventory Software? 70

Posted by timothy
from the what-have-we-here? dept.
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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Good IC / Electronic Component Inventory Software?

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  • Database (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuggz (69912) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:58AM (#32812112) Homepage

    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.

    • 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
    • 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 b

    • 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/ord

    • by whit3 (318913)

      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 a

    • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:59AM (#32812122)

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

    • by skids (119237)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zerth (26112)

      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.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      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

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by reemrevnivek (1537039)

      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.

      • by iroll (717924)

        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.

    • 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)).

      F

  • DIY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:59AM (#32812128) Journal

    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.

    • 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?
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:01PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      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

      • by Dzimas (547818)
        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.
      • by sylvandb (308927)

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

      • 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
        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          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!

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        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, esp

    • by clutch110 (528473)

      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.

      • by Dzimas (547818)
        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.
  • A good place to ask this question is on usenet newsgroup sci.electronics.design
  • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:03PM (#32812208) Homepage
    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.

    • 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 o

    • by ajlitt (19055)

      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.

  • I want... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Revotron (1115029) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @12:10PM (#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)!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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/

    • 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 avai

  • 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 v

  • 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.

  • 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 (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 thing

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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 ...
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 plea

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 par
  • Seriously, a text file with one line per component. To find one, use your editor's find command.
  • 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 lik
    • by hellop2 (1271166)
      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...
    • 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

  • Cool, man. I like electronics, too.

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