Parts Inventory

I have lots of electronic part. Have not counted yet, but certainly many thousands. Of these parts I have many hundred unique parts. These parts are scattered around my home. Some are in the garage, some in the attic, some in my home office, and the rest in my electronics lab. It has gotten to the point that I find it difficult to known what I have and where it is.

Several weeks ago, I was up in the attic rumaging for parts when I stumbled on an old Radio Shack Cue-Cat. This was a cute barcode scanner that RS gave away free that was part of a ‘plot’ to gather consumer data. I realized that with the scanner, I could set up an inventory control system for my parts.

I went online and purchased several hundred similar sized zip-lock ESD bags. I already have a ton of Avery shipping lables. All I needed was an Excel spreadsheet to store part information, and a way to print barcodes.

The spreadsheet was a piece of cake. I set up for my ID code, barcode, manufacturer’s part number, Title, Description, Location, Quatity, Link to datasheet, and Class (opto, transistor, …). I can always add more fields later.

I then found some free barcode fonts and downloaded them. Put when I printed out one, the CueCat would not read it. I tried different codes (UPC, Code128, …) without any luck. I was about to buy a program to print barcodes when I realized that a barcode has a checksum. I had neglected to include the checksum in my printed versions. Found an Excel macro that created the checksum and I was up and running.

Now I am looking for a way to print individual labels rather than sheets of them at a time. There are plenty such printers available (think UPS address labels) but they all cost a fortune. Looking for something cheap. Any ideas?

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4 Responses to Parts Inventory

  1. I have a brother P-Touch PT-2700 that will print bar codes one at a time. I use if for labeling many things, as the labels are plastic, with an over-laminate, and stand up to many chemicals. Great for labeling PCBs, and can even withstand a cleaning process.
    You would have to check if the less expensive versions have this feature.

    • Skye Sweeney says:

      I have a Brother P-Touch printer as well. Mine is a hand held version that does not connect to a computer. I will certainly be looking at these types of printers. I had missed them in my first search only finding printers that a company might use in a warehouse.

  2. Ruchita says:

    Hi there! I went through all your description you posted above. I am also an electronic engineer and interested how people share there experiences about the projects. I wanted to know how printer does work as it cost always high.

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