It’s been a year and a half since we started Sensorstar LABS and we’ve done a fair amount of hardware since then, but I’ve never felt like we came anywhere close to having a solid prototyping set-up.
I personally have never really had a good home lab, and between a resurgence of interest in analog (audio + RF mainly) and a lack of interest in hardware projects at the LABS, I felt it was time.
I’ll detail more when I get it set up, but wanted to make a quick post on some ideas about organizing components. One of my co-workers uses 3-ring binders with card pages, filled with bags of components.
Pluses for the binder system:
Cons as I see them:
At the lab in Baltimore one of the older techs was a big fan of the little pullout drawers. I’ve since seen how handy they can be for mechanical components as well, and I really like the visual of an array of tiny drawers all neatly arranged.
Pluses for the drawer system:
Cons as I see them:
Having said all that, I decided to go with the Akro-Mils 101** series of drawers. I got mine from Amazon, one each of 24, 44, and 64 drawers - there are two drawer sizes. I’m just really hooked on finding stuff quickly, and knowing what I have at a glance. I am however, adding a few things to try and stay organized as I build up the collection.
The first is just a spreadsheet. I have maybe 200 different parts right now, with another hundred on the way as I build up an N2PK VNA and the receiver. I’ve got some time right now and felt this was a reasonable amount to catalog, so long as I’m diligent about updating the sheet.
Part two is an SMD solution in the form of these little spring top boxes from Adafruit. I figured they’d fit in the drawers, and give me a little more granularity. I think even the smallest boxes will fit a couple hundred 0805 parts, we’ll see next week when I get my latest Digi-Key order. I like the idea of having one drawer per value with different tolerances, ratings, and packages together but separate.
Pretty excited about this. More to come on the equipment, and I still have to figure out a bench situation…