When storing many different electronic parts, you need a good organization system to help you track down everything easily and keep them safe. Otherwise, you’ll waste time tracking down the various components every time you need to use them.
To store electronic components safely and in an organized manner, sort the individual parts, label them, remove all detachable items before storage, stow the various parts in different boxes, and ensure that your storage unit has climate control.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take a deeper look at how you can use the above hacks to store your electronic components in a safe, organized way that makes it easy to locate each part in the storage unit whenever necessary. Read on for more.
How to Store Electronic Components
To avoid confusion when retrieving them for use or potential damage due to poor storage conditions, keep in mind the following rules when storing electronic components:
Remove All Detachable Parts Before Storage
Avoid leaving any detachable parts of an electronic component intact when storing because this increases the chances of damage. This includes media devices like DVDs, tapes, VHS tapes, floppy discs, USB sticks, and external hard drives. It also includes cables and any other detachable extras associated with any given electronic component.
Labeling electronic components before storage will help avoid confusion when you need to retrieve and use the individual parts later on.
Many wires and ports appear to be identical, so if you think you’ll have trouble figuring out which wire goes where on a specific gadget, label each cord so that you know which device it belongs to. If possible, use a different color sticker for each port or wire.
And if you’re dismantling a particular gadget to retrieve the components and you’ll need to reassemble it later, be sure to record the assembly directions or take photographs beforehand. This will help clear things up in case you forget where the individual parts go.
When labeling, ensure you mark each component in a manner that’ll help you keep everything as organized as possible. Consider making a note of the following information:
- The hardware related to each component
- Where each component will be stored
- The number of parts in each component (if any)
- Whether it’s delicate
- Any other data you need to help you keep track of the part in question.
You don’t need to get fancy with labels. I recommend just using simple colored labels, like these found on Amazon.
However, if you have a lot of components and want to go a bit further to make the labels, you can use a Brother DK-1204 Label Roll on a QL-570 printer. I especially recommend the printer because it’s stable, the marks are permanent, and its software can import CSV records with information related to each component. That means you only need to organize all the component labels once, “merge” that information with the CSV file exported by the software, and you’re all set to print newer labels faster.
It also helps if your labels have QR codes with a URL. This way, you’ll be able to scan the code with a mobile device and check any given component’s information, including precisely where it’s stored. Plus, QR codes add a touch of professionalism to your component labels.
Ensure That Your Storage Unit Has Climate Control
A decent way to destroy any piece of hardware is to store it in extreme heat, cold, or dampness. Even a couple of hours of storage in adverse conditions can render some electronic components useless.
So if you’re putting away hardware for the long stretch in a self-storage unit, ensure that it can maintain temperatures in the range of 50°C (122°F) to 80°C (176°F). This helps prevent damage from extreme heat, but it’ll also prevent the buildup of dampness in the storage unit.
However, temperature control alone won’t be enough to keep moisture off the storage unit. You also need to ensure that the storage unit has a dehumidifier. If this isn’t available, consider placing a desiccant inside the containers you use to store your components.
Silica gel would be great for this purpose because even when saturated with moisture, it keeps it’s surface dry. Better still, you can get absolute value for money if you choose AQUAPAPA’s silica gel package. For not much money, you get 100 2g-packets of silica gel that’ll absorb water without causing any chemical reactions (which often damage electronic components).
Stow the Various Components in Different Boxes
When storing electronic parts or components, use boxes of different sizes, some with slots, and some with no grooves. Don’t use small stackable SMD boxes or “specialized drawer systems” because these can be expensive and tricky to manage.
Instead, use the simple, conventional boxes intended to store screws/nails or other forms of home storage. These are typically affordable, easy to transport, readily available, and easily fit in most cabinets or drawers. Here are some simple and stackable storage containers that can conveniently be put under beds or anywhere you desire.
For THT parts, use boxes with smaller drawers because you’ll be storing the components directly, without having to put them in zip-lock bags. As for their SMD counterparts, zip-lock bags will be necessary. That means you’ll need to make sure that the compartments or drawers are large enough to house the components plus the zip lock bags.
When a box has many compartments, use a numbering system to keep track of where you stow the various components.
How to Organize Electronic Components in Storage
Storing electronic components in a safe and proper manner depends on how well you organize them in your storage unit.
So, where and how should you store electronic parts? Well, it depends on the sort of parts. Here’s how you should store each of the common electronic components you might be working with:
- Chips (ICs) and the majority of other semiconductors that come in small amounts: These should go into small zip-lock bags, and each bag should have a printed name (we’ll go deeper into this later). Once all packed and labeled, the bags should then be stored in compartments in bigger boxes or mid-sized ones.
- Bigger passive components that come in small quantities should also be put in zip-lock bags before they go into storage boxes.
- SMD Resistors on cut tape (50-100 pieces): Store these in a box or crate with a few compartments and sort by tens of resistance value; (0-10ω, 10ω-100ω, and so on). Next, mark each batch using pieces of tape. This is a superior way to categorize SMD resistors compared to sorting by the first digit because when you need to retrieve one with a particular resistance value, it’ll be easier to locate since you know precisely which compartment to search.
- THT resistors: Store these in labeled bags unless you have a good understanding of resistor color codes.
- Full SMD reels: Label these and put them in large storage boxes.
- Test books: These are similar to boxes, so you can label them the same way you would with traditional boxes.
- Everything else can go into labeled zip-lock bags. Be sure to get the labels printed and choose the bag size based on the component size.
Now, the whole point of all the labeling and sorting is to create a system that’ll keep your components safe and make it easy to locate everything in your storage unit; and this (especially the latter) won’t be possible if you don’t organize your information neatly.
So when you’re done organizing and stowing everything, create a spreadsheet or invest in an inventory tracking system to keep track of all the data related to your electronic components. If possible, use a data-tracking system that’s compatible with mobile devices because then, you’ll be able to access the info on the go.
Best of luck!