Organizing the Resistance

I’m trying to set up a beginner’s electronics workbench, but organizing all of the components has been a hassle. I’ve got a cabinet with sixty-something little plastic drawers, but that seems inefficient for resistors when I might only have 5 of a particular value. It works well for other pieces like switches, buttons, and connectors, though.

I tried using small plastic envelopes in a recipe organizing box, and while it was nice being able to see them when an envelope was out on the desk, the envelopes were too floppy and it was impossible to flip through and find what I was after.

Then I remembered an unused two-drawer card file tucked away at my parents’ house that would be ideal. A2 envelopes were a perfect fit, and there was a sliding backstop in each drawer to keep it all packed tight.

Being a newbie to this electronics thing, I hadn’t yet memorized the resistor color codes, so I decided to print a color guide on each envelope along with the numeric value. The funny thing is that by making all of the envelopes in InDesign I’ve gotten pretty good at the color code system. I think they’ll still serve well as a check when I’m putting resistors back after a prototyping session.

The other night, with the envelopes all printed, I huddled over the piles and started sorting. First lesson learned: good light is a must. Under my lamp, red looked the same as orange looked the same as yellow. Brown and black? No difference between them! Eventually, with a few illuminations from a super-bright flashlight and a few particularly troublesome ones set aside for the morning, I got everything in its place and filed away.

Here’s the finished system. The resistors only take up about half of one drawer. What should I keep in the second drawer?

One Comment on "Organizing the Resistance"

  1. Jesse says:

    Love this idea! You’re correct, storing 2 tiny resistors in a single drawer is an awful idea. I can’t wait to find a two-drawer box like this. Also, just found your site, love it! keep up the great work!

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