Building up supplies - Need advice concerning....

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Clayton Allen, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Clayton Allen

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 15, 2016
    Greetings Everybody!

    So I am a total rookie with EE related topics. By rookie I mean I literally just received my first PCB revision from OSHPark. I have dabbled with various Arduino, Photon, XBee projects. So I have a very small knowledge on the subject. One of the major issues I run into most of the time is a lack of supplies. This is where I could use some words of wisdom.

    Currently I have the following in my workbench:

    • RadioShack cheapy soldering iron (soon to replaced by a Hakko)
    • Adafruit Hot Air Reflow gun for SMD work
    • Lowes brand multimeter (Soon to be replaced by a Fluke)
    • A couple of breadboards
    • Random resistors
    • 10 tactile momentary switches
    • You get the point -- Not well stocked
    So as I do research and learn about new circuits I find more often than not, I don't have capacitors or other parts needed to make mistakes with and learn. So I am on a kick to buy some of the more common parts one might need to build and learn with. I have ordered from Sparkfun and Adafruit, but I find that they don't really carry some of the stuff I would need to actually build what I'm reading in the books.

    After some looking around on ebay I found I can buy larger quantities of items like resistors and capacitors for almost less than what it might cost if purchased from the sites mentioned above. But just before I start ordering items to build up a good bench stock. I would like to hear from folks like you.

    • What would be a good range of capacitors to have on hand?
    • Is the ebay "super packs" going to be a good resource to stock up?
    • When purchasing ICs like shift registers (74HC595 and 74HC165) do the different numbers found on the chips have any significant meaning. For example, AA19RC01, FM1010D?
    I understand that are some limitations to valuable answers. For example I know that some of this may be project specific. But I would like to get a consensus as to what most would consider a "Staple" for their workbenches.

    Thanks in advance,

    Clayton Allen
  2. tindel

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Resistors: I have this kit at work. I really like it - great for solderless breadboards.
    Capacitors: I have this kit at work. It's okay... not great, but okay... just seems that ceramics should go up to 0.1uF then mylar from 0.01uF to about 1uF, then electrolytic from 1uF to 1000uF or so.
    ICs: I buy what I need with some extras from digikey.
    Sensors: Digikey or some other retailer.

    Be careful buying IC's or sensors from Ebay or amazon - lots of counterfeits in the last few months especially.
    Clayton Allen likes this.
  3. tindel

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    And that was my 500th post too! Not as fast as some... but I've tried to provide meaningful content.
    RichardO and HitEmTrue like this.
  4. Clayton Allen

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 15, 2016

    Thanks for the quick reply! I often don't post to forums unless it has an actual value. So I am looking at DigiKey right now and see that I am going to pay a bit more (but less than if I bought from Adafruit or SFE) than if bought from ebay. But for the piece of mind I think it's going to worth it. The one thing I don't want to happen is get a part wire it up and wonder why it's not working as described. I think this route will help mitigate a good portion of that.

    So how practical is it to stock up on things like shift registers? is a few going to cut the mustard for now as I learn? What other sorts of ICs are good to have ready when I reach farther along in my reading?

  5. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
    Transistors,H drivers,Mosfets..
    Id advise against buying a fluke.
  6. dl324

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 30, 2015
    You can't go wrong stocking up on basic logic gates (AND, NAND, OR, NOR, NOT), some counters (decade and binary), opamps, comparators, timers/one shots, NPN/PNP/PMOS/NMOS transistors, resistor/cap assortment, diodes, zeners, LEDs, voltage regulators, connectors, sockets, ...

    But I'd start by buying qty 10-100 of parts that you'll use in the near term.

    Be very careful about buying inexpensive parts on eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, etc as they're likely to be counterfeit and you don't want to add non-functional/out-of-spec parts to things you need to troubleshoot.

    Since you're just starting out, I wouldn't spend money on a Fluke unless you can get a good price on a used one. For most of my measurements, I use a $40 meter I got from Harbor Freight; though I have half a dozen bench meters (HP, Tektronix, and Fluke; all used on eBay). Prices for name brand used equipment wax and wane. Research prices and, if you're not in a rush, you can find some bargains. Don't know what you can find locally, but Tektronix equipment is often on Craigslist in my area.
  7. DickCappels


    Aug 21, 2008
    The prices on eBay are tempting, but be very careful and very skeptical -many people are disappoint after receiving their parts, or shortly thereafter when they to go use them.

    My current mode for the last decade has been to monitor my favorite distributor's website and when something interesting is added to the site ("Oh my! I don't have an .01 uf capacitors in X7R yet!) I add a bunch of them to my shopping list-small inexpensive parts 50 or 100 at a time, more expensive parts in smaller quantities.

    Thomas Edison't laboratory in Menlo Part was said to have samples of every known chemical and compound simply because Edison didn't want to have to wait to try ideas and solutions.
  8. Sensacell

    Senior Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    If you are just starting out, just trying to sort through the catalogs will be fatiguing- there are SO MANY different types of parts to sort through.
    You'll also go broke stocking up on IC's you will never use- until you get the hang of things.

    Don't fret over buying a perfect assortment of stuff- just order what you need for each project and start collecting.

    The only thing worth doing right away is to buy a few 1/4 watt leaded resistor kits, and buy a big wad of each power of 10 value.
    1, 10, 100, 1k ,10k, 100k, 1meg etc.

    Same for small capacitors.

    When ever you build something, over order the parts - this will build your stock and you can burn up a few chips and still have a spare.
  9. DickCappels


    Aug 21, 2008
    I guess I might add that some things that will be valuable for a long time are resistors, capacitors, small signal diodes and small signal transistors. The more complex and the more exotic the component, the less likely you will have a use for it in coming years. Memory chips are a prime example of something you should not invest very heavily in because even while you are waiting for your shipment, some company is working on making ithe parts you ordered obsolete with a product with more bits to the dollar.
  10. Magic Dr.Shoon

    New Member

    Nov 30, 2007
    When I started out had a stock of unused electronic things which I robbed components off. They were mostly through-hole stuff back then, but I managed to support many small projects this way. I remember I had an old x-ray controller board which kept my in passives for about a year!

    I would just buy as you go along. I know it gets frustrating, not having the components at hand, but as long as you buy more than what you need, they will go into your stock ready for the next projects, eventually you'll have a stock tailored to your personal common components.

    I find that if you buy the kits, there will always be components you will never use. If you buy as you go along, you will end up getting favourite values, like you might decide to use a 100k on all your pull-ups (unless otherwise stated of course!), and you may favour a particular family of regs etc. Having said that, having a book of resistors and caps is really convenient if you don't mind shelling out for them!

    I still salvage switches, buttons and LEDs from stuff I'm throwing away!
  11. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    It really depends on the path you intend on travelling. a big junk pile has served me better than trying to anticipate tomorrow's interests ( often is my source of interest). I am pretty well 100% logic these days, so I do the eBay black box thing, way cheaper than local, even with the odd dud ( some cases the opposite where replacements have greater functionality). I do carry a few op amps, 10x resistor range, few pots, small range of caps, then order specifically for projects.

    When I first got into electronics in the mid 80s, I purchased a hitachi 20meg dual trace scope. Still in use today, it has moved me along further than any other item in my shop, except for my ever present cup of hot coffee.
  12. Evanguy


    Dec 21, 2014
  13. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    Re: meters
    What do you really need? You might want to consider one nice meter and a few cheap meters. Sometimes you just need to monitor a voltage or two and a current at the same time.

    Re: parts
    What types of devices and circuits are you interested in? The old cheap stuff is good for learning. If you destroy a #0.25 op amp it doesn't hurt so much. Destroying $5.00 op amps is a heart break.
    Get to know the limitations of the parts. Get data sheets on the parts and find out how far you can push the limitations beyond what the data sheet says.
  14. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    I love Dave Jones videos, and this one below is right on topic for you. Also on Amazon there are tons of "kits", like Joe Knows kits of resistors, transistors, diodes, etc.. just boxes of assortments.

  15. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    Re: Powering projects
    Over the years I have acquired a bunch of wall transformers from second-hand stores, etc, for $1.00 or less each. I can quickly add a regulator to one that fits my needs if I don't have what I want. Yes, you can spend hundreds on a nice, high power, power supply. If all your projects run off of one power supply and it goes out, you are dead on the bench. Most of my stuff runs on <100 mA for analog or <300 mA for digital. Wall transformers fit my needs most of the time if battery power doesn't do it.