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Finally, a really stupid project! You know, I was worrying that this blog is getting too serious with all those posts about machine learning and DevOps. But now it’s time for a genuine stupid project. This time I’m going to describe why and how I’ve built my personal component database and how I’ve extended this and made some modifications to make it more friendly.

For the last 20 years my collection of components, various devices and peripherals has grown too much. Dozens of various MCUs, SBCs, prototype PCBs and hundreds of components like ICs, passive devices (resistors, capacitors, e.t.c.), and even cables. That’s too much and very hard to organize and sort. Most EE and embedded engineers already feel familiar with the problem. So, the usual solution to this is to buy component organizers with various size of storage compartments and some times even large drawers to fit the larger items. Then the next step is to use some invisible tape as labels on each drawer and write what’s inside.

While this is fine when you have a few components, when the list is growing too much then even that is not useful. Especially, after some time that you forgot when some stuff are really located then you need to start reading the labels on every drawer. Sometimes it may happen that you pass the drawer and then start from beginning. If you’re like me this can get you angry after few seconds of reading labels. You see, the thing is that when you have to start looking for a component is because you need it right now as you’re in middle of something and if you stop doing the important task and start spend time searching for the component, which is supposed to be organized, then you start getting pissed. At least I do.

Therefore, the solution is to have a database (DB) that you can search for the component and then you get its location. Having a such a database is very convenient, because you can also add additional information, like an image of the component, the datasheet and finally create a web interface that is able run queries in the db and display all those information in a nice format.

For that reason a few years back in 2013 I’ve created such a database and a web interface for my components and until now I was running this on my bananapi BPI-M1. Until then though, the inventory has kept growing and recently I’ve realized that the database is not enough and I need to do something else in order to be able to find the component I need a bit faster. The solution was already somewhere in those components I already had, therefore I’ve used an ESP8266 module and an addressable RGB LED strip.”

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