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Inventory and Storage

So now that weíve begun the process of pre-owned parts procurement, letís give some thought to keeping track of what weíve found. Iíve tried many strategies over the years, and Iíve discovered that one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to store most electronic components for future use is in common mailing envelopes. For example, youíve amassed a quantity of resistors of various values. Sort them by ohm rating (and perhaps by wattage and tolerance), and place them in envelopes marked with the relevant values. When you need a 100-ohm, 2-watt, 5% resistor to complete the circuit youíre playing with, you know right where to find it. This strategy works great for any components that are not potentially damaged by static discharge in handling. Complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) and field-effect transistors (FET), as well as many integrated circuits, can be damaged by even the slightest static electric discharge. Such parts should be handled while taking anti-static precautions and need to be stored in static-free bags or containers.

Larger parts require larger containers. Pill bottles, as well as juice and coffee cans, are great found storage containers for the bigger items in your junk box. Again, clear marking with a felt tip pen or label maker makes quick location of any desired part a snap.

Sometimes itís useful to have a container to gather all the parts you might want for a specific project. Letís say I want to keep all the mechanical parts I found in the castoff printer for a specific robotics project. Head to your local discount or sporting goods store and find the aisle devoted to fishing. Youíll find dozens of small, partitioned containers designed to hold fishing lures and hooks. These are perfect for project parts management. Fair warning: there is an addictive quality to parts gathering. Once, my personal junk box was simply a box. Now, itís more like a junk room. But I know that I have all I need to make just about anything that comes to mind, and most of it was found and free. Thatís the maker way!

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