Yeah I'm bored, but not *that* bored... (ordering parts mini-rant)

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by King Fan, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    We've talked in the past about the advantages of ordering all your parts freehand versus starting from a kit. Having just put in several orders of parts towards a new build (TBA later), I'm motivated to stir the pot again.

    The amp I'm planning has no chance of ever being available as a kit, and I have a reasonable (though not impressive) stash of old parts, so my choice was obvious. Here's what's hard about ordering your own parts, though:

    All of it. :D
    • First, just making sure you have a modern drawing of the layout with all the simple tweaks we do now -- a few diodes, best bias choices, filter cap options, and so on -- is a ton of work. But you gotta do that so you can...
    • Go over the layout over and over again to tally up a BOM. Yellow marker, green marker, red ink, checks, x's, Excel edits...
    • Compare your BOM to what you have on hand. I have my passives, parts, and fasteners all in little labeled bins, but some get clobbered together (odd-sized resistors, small bypass caps...) and some get mixed up (#4 star washers in the #6 bolt bin and vice versa? Non-keps in with keps? It never ends.)
    • Some parts look OK until you look closer. Why the hockey-sticks do I have only long-bushing 12A jacks? Good, lots of #8s... but are they the right lengths?
    • Around this time, you start to make mistakes. No wait, dumbhead, .0047uF is 4.7nF...
    • You test all your resistors to make sure they're the right size and in spec. But then what? Want to re-measure 'em all over in the future? Tape 'em down in clumps to a printed list of all the resistors you need? Aghhh.
    • Don't forget about alternate values. Will that bias pot be big enough? What if I need to try several different tail resistors? And hey, the V1 coupling and bypass caps might need tweaking...
    • By now, you start to compare your needs list to possible suppliers. Great, my favorite source can do all the 2-3W metal oxides -- except for one oddball size. Cool, I can get the Dale MFs I need from the usual source -- but the shipping is more than the resistors, and their CCs are those modern ones with the dinky leads. I only need a couple CCs -- off to eBay. Luckily, my oddball transformers and choke I can get from a single source -- still another source. I already have the chassis, by some miracle, but the miracle took me a month of looking and, yeah, separate shipping.
    • Before submitting any orders, of course, you want to double check your double checks. On a final trip through the capacitors, I found I'd misread both what I needed and what I had, some of the yellows in my Mallory bins were no-name yellows, my 'saved' spendy coupling caps had badly bent-up, cut-down leads...
    You also know I'm gonna think of some part tomorrow I didn't order, and I'm bound to discover more when I start building, and more when I'm almost finished. And spares? Sure, I've ordered extras of the cheap parts, but there's no rule it's only cheap parts you screw up...

    If you do keep a parts collection, I hope it's bigger than mine and you're even better at grouping, testing, checking, and labeling. If I put *any* value on my time, I woulda been way better off ordering *all new* resistors, capacitors, fasteners, and so on -- the whole BOM. I can see not dumping old tubes, transformers, yellow wire, etc. But as an occasional builder I think I may just be kidding myself to keep all these nice little 'spare parts.'

    Still, let's look on the bright side. It's hard to get electrocuted planning an amp. And the trouble-shooting in this phase isn't difficult either -- it just means another hit on the old credit card for my friends at UPS, FedEx, and USPS. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  2. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Afflicted

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    The big factor for me is organization - if I can have a clear idea of WHERE I might find the brass #8 flathead bolts, then it's a hell of a lot easier to find out WHETHER I have them. So far I'm not doing so well on that to be honest. I feel ya.

    Definitely order extra on the cheaper stuff so that - IF you can find 'em, you don't need to pay shipping AGAIN.
     
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  3. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

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    I have never built a kit.
    I have always gone through this, "What do I have and what do I need?, syndrome.

    The worst is when you know you have the part. Can't find said part and then buy the part. Just before assembly, find the lost part.

    It is always tough to place that second order and not get the shipping break.

    Of course when the supplier sends the wrong part...

    It goes on and on doesn't it.
     
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  4. BigDaddy23

    BigDaddy23 Tele-Holic

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    Great post. I agonise over this step but generally miss something! How the hell do I miss things?!! I pretty much follow exactly the process you described.

    I have those flattish fishing tackle boxes full of various sorted components like switches, caps, hardware and resistors in a labelled nest drawer unit. Ordering extras in passive components is par for the course in my practice!
     
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  5. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It's getting harder now too. Doug Hoffman is carrying less items all the while, and he was my main source for eyelets, fiberboard, wire, sockets, and even a bunch of different screws etc. that I'd buy in 100's to make life easier later.
    I don't know now who's carrying fiberboard materials. Can get this transformer here, but they don't have these pots, or whatever. I'm not complaining, as all this is way first world issues, but it is not easy to do. Bulk would be the way to go. Perhaps one of the shock brothers will take over from Doug soon, as he's not wanting to carry as much stuff as he rounds third base... What a guy, but made it easier and the speed of order picking was impeccable.
    Anyway - I'm anxious for you to have a new build King Fan.
     
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  6. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks, you all. Yeah, first world problems -- kind of fun, and kind of funny. We should all have only problems like this!

    I think part of my solution should be to stop kidding myself that 'saving' 15-cent resistors is smart. It's classic penny-wise, pound foolish.

    And yes, for sure, Doug's creeping / impending retirement is certainly gonna make things harder. A few years ago I could almost say 'if he doesn't have it I don't need it.'

    I suppose another step is to stop being so finicky and particular. I'm not sure there's any actual audible difference between a $1.60 cap and a $6.10 cap -- but it was kinda fun to play 'what if there is' for a few extra dollars per amp. Now I'm starting to see why busy builders here order bulk quantities of uniform, inexpensive parts -- and why OTOH I could in future order my complete BOM of simple caps and resistors and 'save' the unused ones only against the rare need for repair and replacement.

    A big, logical step to offset the few extra dollars spent would be to make my own board, and (stretch goal) learn to make my own chassis and cab. Also, you gotta admire our smart brethren who scavenge dumpsters and roadside organs and estate sales for transformers, tubes, and so on.

    Or I could stop building amps. Oh, yeah, right...
     
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  7. BobSmith

    BobSmith Tele-Meister

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    Anyone care to share some pictures and words about how they keep this all organized? Bins, boxes, baggies and bundles of wire...whatcha got?

    I just ordered a medium sized rack for spools of wire and shrink tubing.

    It’s definitely more enjoyable and fun when you can actually find and access what you’re looking for.
     
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  8. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm a big fan of redundant supply chains. In resistors I stock 1/2 watt CC for "vintage" builds and replacement. Then I've got the same values in 1 watt CF.

    Caps are either orange or yellow although I have to reorder soon. .022, .047 and .1 covers most applications with a small inventory of outliers.

    But then I have Astrons, blues and mustards. Blew my mind when I took inventory the other day. I have a couple big fat baggies full of mustards.

    Doesn't hurt to opportunity buy bypass caps. I'm thinkin' I'll pick up some Phillips bypass caps to go with my mustards.

    Just picked up a coffee can full of ceramic discs for snubbers and deeply authentic Supro builds.

    I can never have too many Switchcraft 12As, Aeronautical pilot lights, 1 meg audio pots or Littelfuse fuse holders.

    Oh, yeah. Gotta have the chicken head knobs.

    :cool: :cool: :cool:
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  9. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Trick is to keep a thin layer of 100k resistors, .022 caps, #4 keps and the like spread on the carpet. I just reach down and grab what I need.

    :D :D :D
     
  10. BigDaddy23

    BigDaddy23 Tele-Holic

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    ^ Haha......I shouldn't laugh. People who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones.
     
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  11. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Way I heared it,

    "People who live in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones."
     
  12. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

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    Yesterday... :oops:
    GE 5y3... :)
    Rolled off the table... :eek:
    No luck whatsoever... :(
    Shattered... :mad:
    Obviously not the rugged version... :cry:

    Note to self: Time to restock small parts. The layer has gotten too thin. :D
     
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  13. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think part of the trick is to consume enough that you're frequently re- ordering.

    The basic setup is to organize resistors in one box, capacitors in another. Keep a Sharpie on your bench. Use an empty poly parts bag for scrap paper. If you notice you're thin on parts, write it down.

    Handle your inventory frequently so you know what you have and you know where you put it.


    Couple bins take care of sockets, switches, fuse holders and jacks.


    I have an astonishing assortment of stainless steel hardware.


    Another trick is to maintain an electronics salvage yard. Couple old electronic organs can be harvested for parts in a pinch.
     
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  14. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I had a GE 5Y3 commit seppuku the other day. It rolled into the open cutout of a 5E3 cabinet and busted over the speaker magnet.

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     
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  15. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

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    I never thought the GE 5Y3 might consider seppuku. She was always so... Positive.:lol:
     
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  16. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    You're right, her mood never alternated, but she could be *really* spiky.

    The good thoughts above remind me: I've seen pics of a couple 'pro' builder's shops: racks with hundreds of labeled drawers line the walls. Clearly their need for bulk orders, wholesale prices, complete collections, and efficient assembly force them to organize -- and allow them to inventory, review, revise, re-order and re-organize.

    For the hobbyist who builds often but not always, the problems are scale and frequency. That, and each new amp calls for several things you didn't order before.

    So it makes sense to order a bunch of 68K, 100K, 1M, and if you're using affordable caps, 0.1s, 0.047s, 0.022s -- and standard trem and bypass sizes, and just accept the fact that you're not gonna have the bigger filter caps, less common resistors, and so on.

    For the occasional builder, I still think it might be simplest to a) check the spares drawer for a few commonplace items, and then b) order all the other (small) parts you need all at once without exhaustively revisiting the bins and baggies...
     
  17. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's tough. For me, it only got easier over time as I evolved an imperfect system of going from schematic to layout to BOM to multiple shopping carts.

    One of the reasons I am doing PCB only now is it hugely simplified the schematic->BOM part of the process. It also forces you to move some of the shopping into the design phase.

    For reasons of cost it's really hard to accumulate too much of a stock. I try to buy 10+ quantities when it's < say $5 and some common value, or something I anticipate needing later otherwise.

    Like you said though @King Fan , keeping stock adds a new layer of complexity to your shopping process because now you have to reconcile your current inventory against your BOM so you don't end up buying crap you already had.
     
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  18. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Another non- sequitur from The Off Topic Poster Boy.

    :cool: :cool: :cool:

    IMG_2009.JPG

    IMG_2010.JPG
     
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  19. Paul-T

    Paul-T Tele-Meister

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    You guys don't know you're born - try being in Europe!

    Sorry to hear Doug is going to retire. My best source of stuff in the UK is 90 and I'm scared he's going to retire soon. Why did I not buy 10 of his 5p NOS resistors and not three each? Or all of his NOS 12AX7 rather than 3?

    My personal foible is having a nice shopping basket all sorted, then at the last minute thinking, Ah, more PS caps for that second build, when I had exactly the same thought the last order.

    For me definitely the trickiest bit is the hardware. I think I will end up with two build with mains cables loose because I have no idea how to spec and fit a cable grip and I'm scared of what I'll encounter when I google the subject.
     
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  20. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I ordered carbon films with a particular circuit in mind x25. They come in five packs. The price break is at multiples of five five packs.

    Fortunately, it amounts to a big pile of

    1.5ks

    68ks

    100ks

    220ks

    1 megs.


    It occurred to me I can build a tweed Champ with 5x 100ks and 2x 1.5ks on the board. I could substitute anything from 820 ohms to 2.7k for the 1.5ks.

    I just scored a thousand eyelets. Maybe today is the day to whip up a "Trench Champ".
     
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