Wanted to kick off a thread to discuss parts/component storage, and share some deals I just found on Harbor Freight’s website.
For a long time, the two primary means of storing parts and components have been plastic shoe boxes (for assembled projects or larger parts) and your basic plastic multi-drawer parts bins (Akro-Mills or similar). While the shoeboxes are fairly portable, the parts bins aren’t really, and given that I do a fair number of talks on microcontroller stuff, I need to be able to grab and go.
I had a rolling toolbox with some bins, but it turned out to be fairly unwieldy for the purpose, and the art supply/tackle box I was using just didn’t have enough space for all of the modules and boards I was rapidly accumulating.
Enter Harbor Freight. They’ve got really cheap stuff, with decent enough quality. For example, I got 4 of these 20-bin carriers:
(yes, they’re 20 bins, not 19…I have no idea why they’re described as 19).
These have a variety of bin sizes, the largest of which can easily accommodate a FEZ Spider, Cerberus, Cerbuino Bee, or Hydra (the Cobra II is too big for the largest bin, alas), and the medium bins are exactly half the size of the large, and the smallest are half the size of the mediums, meaning you can move them around, mix and match, to suit your needs.
They’ve also got a 15-bin version:
and an 8-bin version:
I got a couple of the 15-bin cases, but wasn’t able to get any of the 8-bin as they were out at my local store.
Only two gripes about the cases…some of the cases (though not all) have a fully-adhesive-backed sticker on the clear cover, and it does not come off easily, which is annoying. And there’s a mild off-gassing odor. I just opened them up and left them in an unoccupied room overnight, and they were fine.
But speaking of odor, if you have a local Harbor Freight store, and haven’t visited, it’s worth a visit, but beware…the local store in Sterling, VA, which is closest to me, must have terrible ventilation, as it smells like a chemical spill inside. I was only there for a half hour, and was getting nauseous. Great deals to be had, though. And my local store might be an outlier. My mom has been to the store near her, and didn’t have that experience at all.
So what do the rest of you use for storing your parts and components?