With all the DIY video modules I’ve committed to building for myself, I found that the biggest effort is in the purchasing and preparing of components… here is my self-taught approach, I’m keen to learn how others handle it:
Bill Of Materials can be presented in many ways. Here are some examples - the first two are basic lists and the third is a well formatted and detailed spreadsheet as per LZX Cadet and Castle modules.
Each maker will have their own way of sharing this info…
Since I started off with the Cadets, I found myself either amending the BOM to mimic that format, or just straight out retyping it in excel so they’re in the same format.
Why match the format? Because it makes way more sense to collate all the required parts and buy in batches, to get discounts on quantities (even at just 10+ can be enough of a discount compared to the 1+ price) and also get the order above the free shipping threshold from Mouser. Having the BOM in the same format sets me up for the next steps…
With all my required BOMs organised per-module on different tabs of my spreadsheet, I copy them in to one big list:
From here the data is cleaned up a bit, ie making sure descriptions match for the same component values (which can be as simple as removing spaces, or as involved as re-typing everything) and then populate the component number I plan to buy - generally by following whatever is listed by one maker or has been bought previously by me. This is one area that I find daunting, to start from absolute scratch with a billion components to choose from! Thankfully I’ve had a starting point of sorts for each build so far.
This is where it starts to make sense, the full list is then pivoted out to components per module and when I place my order I can make notes down the right hand column. These notes could be “qty discount” if I’ve ordered 10 instead of the required quantity, or if I’ve chosen to substitute the part.
Since I take the easy option and just use Mouser, I can copy the order list in to their BOM builder tool then add to cart, or if I want to ensure I’m getting discounts then go through line by line to place the order.
When the parts arrive, they’re all individually bagged with a part code, that matches what is listed on the order sheet
I print off the main checklist and also a sheet per module, sort through the parts ticking off the list and also sticky taping the components to each module’s sheet:
The individual sheets are slipped in a plastic sleeve, with any specific parts from other sources (ie, stash of switches or pots) and the PCB and panel. You’ll see on some lines I’ve noted “B” or “Bag”, for components where there are too many to stick to the sheet. On the parts bag’s label, I’ll write the quantity per module so when I need to pick out the parts I can double check what is required.
With each module’s parts all sorted, these sleeved lists are kept in a box ready to go as soon as I want to start building.
The preparation work comes naturally since I’m spending my current work life in excel doing similar (“analyst” role in a supply chain function) and with the parts are all sorted it’s just a matter of grabbing a project, firing up the soldering iron then paint by numbers to populate the PCB and solder on.
It seems slower to start with but each step can be done in its own time as discrete chunks and left until I’m ready to take on the next step, and the assembly is now relatively fast… and even though I’m less focused when populating the board - usually drinking a beer or few late at night while doing so - I haven’t made any mistakes and am knocking out builds quicker than ever
So I’m really curious how others approach this aspect of DIY builds - be it you have drawers full of components on hand, if you buy a module at a time as required, or however else you get the parts ready to go.
Let us all know, as I’m sure we’ll all learn from each other’s approaches.