The New Way of Storing and Organizing SMD Components

In my previous article I briefly showed the way I store and organize my SMD components. Even it is way better than storing parts in labeled plastic bags, in which the parts are usually shipped, it is still far away from being perfect. I was already looking for a better solution for a six months or so, when I finally found two products, which seemed like a possible solution – Aidetek Box-All Cases and WenTai Boxes.

My SMD Collection
My SMD Collection

Aidetek Box-All Cases

When I was browsing eBay a month ago, a found an auction with Aidetek Box-All Cases. As it was an auction, I managed to get two for the price of one.

They provide 144 compartments with dimensions roughly 18×16×10 mm, so they are suitable only for smaller components. These boxes are designed to store bare SMD components without any packing – the lid contains a small rim, which does no allow even 0201 package to fall out. I really like it – it’s reasonably small, with a sufficient number of compartments and it look stylish. Everything looks durable and I am not afraid it will break during time or an accidental fall. Only downside is that the lid takes quite a lot of force to open – it could go smoother.

Aidetek Box-All Case with 144 Compartments
Aidetek Box-All Case with 144 Compartments
Compartment Size
Compartments Size
0603 Parts Fit Nice
0603 Parts Fit Nice

Event the boxes are nice, if they are used in the same way as I used the business card manager, they become a chaos in a while as new types of components need to be added. So I make a decision – I use these boxes only for SMD resistor and capacitors (larger components doesn’t fit) and I pre-fill it with a reasonable amount of values. So I bought a set of 177 values of resistors and 50 values of ceramic capacitors (50 pieces of each value can be found for about $15 on-line). I also decided to drop 5% resistors and use only 1% – I only make small series, so the price difference is negligible and I can use such a resistor practically anywhere. Everything is in 0603 packages, as I practically don’t use any other in my projects. Only several selected values of resistors I have in 1206 packages and I store them together with 0603 in one compartment, because the packages are easily distinguishable and the compartments are a precious commodity.

The filling with label printing took me few hours to complete. Now I understand, why pre-filled boxes are so expensive. It is a terrible, monotonous work. If you value your time, eyes and figers, buy a pre-filled one.

My Resistor Set
My Resistor Set
My Capactior Set
My Capactior Set
The Pile of Empty Tapes  After Filling- the pile has roughly 40 cm
The Pile of Empty Tapes After Filling- the pile has roughly 40 cm

WenTai Boxes

After I found Box-All, I started looking for another boxes I can use for storing my another parts. There are many boxes, or cases available, however all of them look cheap and impractical. Also, if you buy a case with compartments, you have to plan what to store where in advance, and changing the layout later is hard. However the WenTai Boxes amazed me instantly – each compartment is an individual unit, which can be attached to other unit to form a uniform block – what a glorious idea! The boxes can be rearranged any time you want. They also make a lot of colors and different sizes.

I decided to go with 100 of the smallest compartments, which can be found on-line for about $20. The smallest compartment inner dimensions are roughly 25×31×22 mm. Large enough for many of my other components, I thought. But the actual space is smaller, because of a bit inside the compartment, which hide the attachment clip. Even though, you can fit in there even 10 microSD card sockets or 25 SMD electrolytic caps. However DIP16 for example won’t fit just because of the bit. The compartments has a transparent lid with no handle – it opens using a spring if you press a small plastic hook. This is nice, as the block of compartments is smooth on top and you can lay several layer over each other. The lid does not have a rim and there is a 0.3 mm space between the lid and the body of the compartment when the lid is closed, so you cant store extremely small packages without another packing, because they fall out.

The attachment mechanism is robust and easy to handle, when you get used to it. You have to force a column first and than you can attach columns of compartments to each other.

WenTai Boxes
WenTai Boxes
Example of My Labeling - I haven't sorted the boxes yet
Example of My Labeling – I haven’t sorted the boxes yet
The compartments - note the bit inside compartment
The compartments – note the bit inside compartment

The compartments - note the bit inside compartment
The compartments – note the bit inside compartment
Single Compartment – Size Comparison

Single Compartment - Size Comparison
Single Compartment – Size Comparison

These boxes are available in many colors, however the seller send me the probably ugliest one. This is the first of my two disappointment from these boxes. The second disappointment is the bit inside the box, which takes up the valuable space.

After 2 Weeks of Usage

I’ve been using these boxes for two weeks and already made several boards using it. I am excited – finally looking for components is a matter of seconds. No messing around with plastic boxes, no worries about mixing components together. And also these boxes, especially the one from Aidetek, are easily transportable. I am glad I bought and started to using these boxes to organize my SMD collection. I am also thinking about buying the other sizes of WenTai boxes, however I am currently quite discouraged with their high price.

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