Parts Organization

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Over the years I have accumulated many electronics parts. At first I got parts from Radio Shack or scrounged them from old dead arcade or computer boards. Back then a basic storage box like the type to store fishing tackle was all I needed. But I quickly outgrew that storage system just in obtaining 74xx TTL logic chips. These days it is a challenge to find an efficient way to store things, have them be accessible and easy to locate.


In 2012 when I was really getting the old Savage///Circuits website going, I had also started Savage///Circuits TV and started a monthly parts giveaway. This necessitated having a dedicated storage area for all the parts, including stock parts, projects parts, monthly giveaway, some completed projects and later parts for The Fellowship of the Travelling Parts Box (TFOTTPB). I called this room the Savage///Circuits Vault.

These photos are from when I was first setting up the Savage///Circuits Vault. I had to move most of my parts cabinets and hardware into this room because I simply did not have enough room in my office for everything.


I organized the parts themselves into various categories. The parts cabinets were all stock parts. I had two cabinets for resistors, one for capacitors, one for integrated circuits, one for MCUs, CPUs, RAM, EPROMS, etc. There was a cabinet for push buttons and switches, as well as relays. There was also a cabinet just for hardware, including screws, nuts, washers and things like standoffs.

When I would place an order, such as this BG Micro order, most of the parts were just stock items. You can see bridge rectifiers, power transistors, FETs and regulators, as well as BCD switches. But there is also a mag strip reader. All the other parts were just extra stock, possibly initiated by a project where I was low on one or more parts. These parts go into the parts cabinets.

But the mag strip reader was purchased specifically for a project. Therefore, it was stored in a project box specifically for that project. For projects I use various size Sterilite Boxes with lids to hold all the parts for that project. The first photo above shows one of the more popular plastic boxes I use for storing project parts.

The second photo above shows the type of storage I use for smaller sensors and accessories, for example, PIR sensors, ultrasonic sensors and RFID readers are too big to fit into the standard parts cabinet drawers, so these 5-drawer, stackable organizers are perfect for items this size. You can see many of these on the shelves in the first photo in this article.

The third photo above shows the type of storage I use for larger accessories, for example, breadboards, keypads, LCD / TFT / OLED displays and Raspberry Pi boards are too big for the other cabinets and drawers, and so these are perfect for items this size. You can see several of these on the shelves in the first and second photos in this article.


When I moved from CA to ID, I had to pack up much of the parts in cabinets because it wasn’t safe to travel with them in the storage cabinets. This became especially clear with several items I did leave in their cabinets that got damaged during the move.

Once I got settled in ID, the long road of reorganization began and consisted partially of putting parts back in the cabinets and drawers. In the first photo above I am putting the ICs back into their drawers in their respective cabinets. In the second photo above, I was pulling the ICs out of the box they were packed in. I was using my dining room table and kitchen counter since the office was mostly piles of boxes at this point.


When I moved back to NY, I had already lost much of what I used to own. My ex had allowed two of the storage units to lapse in payment, and they were cleaned out. Eventually I started doing PLC work and so I started collecting parts for PLC consulting.

My orders were no longer just electronics and microcontrollers, but now included Raspberry Pi and PLC parts as well. In this photo, there are lighted pushbuttons and LED status indicators for an industrial control project. The display is for a Raspberry Pi and the leads and pin extractors were tools I needed to replace.

Under the circumstances I had to replace a lot of my components by buying starter kits from Amazon. This was the most economic way to replace so many parts at once and give me sensors and accessories I could start off with.

Sometimes if I needed a specific part for a project that I was going to make in bulk, I would buy a larger quantity from eBay. This was an efficient way to get quantity without spending a lot. These were split between a parts cabinet drawer and the project box. These were purchased for the 24V Industrial Sensor Tester.


At some point I was trying to figure out if the Propeller 2 was done yet, and while I couldn’t get a straight answer, I did finally pick up a kit they had. It came with the P2 Edge Breakout Breadboard, P2 Module with Edge Connector, Propeller Plug, USB Cable, Power Supply and a few components, including a WS2812B LED strip (Christmas Lights). Since I haven’t really done anything with these parts, they’re still in a project box. I did buy an extra RGB LED strip from Amazon and used the two for Christmas Lights for my work area at my job.

At some point I decided to buy another traunch of parts and I got new parts cabinets as well. I ordered a few of the component packs from Jameco Electronics. One was LEDs, one was disc capacitors, and the other was resistors. I also picked up some common NPN and PNP transistors, some DIP switches and some toggle switches. This was just to build a base of components.

In the first photo above you can see how I opted to setup the parts cabinets initially. I guess it goes without saying, this didn’t work out, but it was a start. In the second photo above I got the LEDs organized, though I wasn’t really happy with the labels I made. In the third photo above I was organizing the transistors.


At some point I bought some storage shelves to hold all these parts cabinets, storage boxes, etc.

The main issue I ran into is that the main parts cabinets are exactly 16″ high, while the space between the shelves is 15″. So none of the parts cabinets can go on these shelves. That said, the project boxes fit easily and you can see several on these shelves.

For now I’m using the portable benches I purchased for the storage cabinets with one on the left holding four parts cabinets and several of the 5-drawer organizers and the one on the right doing, essentially the same thing, but two of the cabinets are smaller and the two larger ones have larger drawers.

At first I started putting some of the 3-drawer storage bins on my metal bookshelf. I’ve since decided I don’t like this setup. When we move into the new house, I am going to move these to the plastic shelf units I original bought for the parts cabinets.

I will also be storing all the project boxes on these shelves as well. If you look on the left shelf unit, second shelf from the bottom on the right, you can see some medium plastic bins that I also use for project boxes for projects whose parts fit into these boxes.

This is my soldering desk / bench. Yep, I know…there’s no soldering station. In cleaning up the rest of the office, all the unorganized stuff ended up on this desk and there’s no room for the soldering station, desoldering station, hot air rework station and extractor. Not to mention the magnifying lamp (you can see it on one of the shelves). My PanaVise holders for soldering belong on those shelves too.

Earlier in this article I showed a Jameco order which contained one of their resistor packs, which contained 100 each of 27 resistor values. I created a spreadsheet to duplicate the values I used to have in my original parts cabinets (long lost). The spreadsheet shows all the values assigned to two cabinets. The ones in green are the ones from the value pack that have been put away. The ones in yellow still need to be put away. What is taking so long is that I didn’t realize they were going to send me these on cut tape! The ones in blue have been ordered from Digikey in “bulk”, which means no cut tape.

As I started labeling the drawers and then having to cut all the resistors from the tape, I could tell this was going to be a tedious process. It took me quite a bit just to get half the drawers labeled and get the existing parts put away. Most of the time was spent cutting resistors from the tape and the next biggest delays was cleaning up rough edges and defects from the individual drawers which wouldn’t close properly until bit of plastic were removed.


As noted above, I made a very large order of resistors from Digikey. When they came in, I tried to sort them on my couch.

As you can see, this was an exercise in futility, as I did not have enough room to lay out all the bags to organize them.

It was tedious not only labeling the drawers, but cutting the resistors from the tape.

I finally got all the drawers labeled and now there are fifteen empty drawers available for SIP / DIP resistor packs. There are one hundred (100) pieces of each resistor value, except the three values that were not in stock when I placed that huge Digikey order.

This chart represents the current state of the resistor drawers. The 3.3Ω, 120Ω and 330K drawers are currently empty, but will be taken care of on my next parts order. Time to move on to capacitors and other drawers.

More to come…



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