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I've recently started working on a project and I need to find a way to store some ICs that I'm using. I have around five different ICs and someone said I could just put them all together in a small cylindrical tube I have (think a little box medicine pills come in). Wouldn't this damage the ICs? And/or are there better ways to store them?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For SMD parts, moisture is going to be a problem in long-term storage. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 16 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You sure you don't mean plastic parts? Even then I doubt moisture would be a problem in most hobbyest like environments, unless you're storing them outside in the tropics. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Feb 17 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ In a cardboard box, somewhere down in the basement. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 17 at 22:58
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I store everything in the Mouser/Farnell/DigiKey bags they're delivered in. They have convenient readable labels, which is nice, especially when they contain tiny SOT-23 transistors which are quite impossible to identify and basically disappear into a black hole, or into the carpet floor, if you lose sight of them.

To find them, I just slip the bags in photo albums, and I have a spreadsheet that says on page X, there is this chip. It's extremely convenient. Plastic bags stacked in a container are unusable. But photo albums are great, and cheap.

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Or I just make holes in the bags and put them in a binder.

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If you have DIP ICs... a sheet of black foam fits nicely inside an A4 transparent plastic sleeve that goes into a ring binder. Or in a photo album. And if they fall off the black foam, they're still at the bottom of the plastic pocket.

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For passives, I store them in a box that has the same width as the plastic bags laying vertical on their side. Ordered by value, with a cardboard separator between each E24 value. So if I need 12 kOhm, I just leaf through the stack of bags like a dictionary. It's very convenient.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the binders! \$\endgroup\$
    – Pete W
    Feb 16 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are those really safe from ESD? \$\endgroup\$
    – Unknown123
    Feb 17 at 7:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Unknown123 As long as they're in the ESD bags then generally yes (assuming they're really conductive ESD bags and not some cheap silver painted plastic) \$\endgroup\$
    – slebetman
    Feb 17 at 10:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I also use this method and I noticed that labels can become unreadable in few years. So for longer storage it is better to write your own labels. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rokta
    Feb 17 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rokta Labels on small quantity products - which would really include pretty much everything here due to the way it is distributed (i.e., high volumes aren't sent in little bags) - are generally thermal printing for a bunch of reasons, and by nature those don't last forever. Think "old fax machine paper". There is thermal transfer if you need it to last longer, but there is no justification for the extra cost for parts distribution. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17 at 15:13
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I often find that storing in the packaging that they come in from suppliers works best. You need to provide both protection from ESD as well as from physical damage like bent or broken pins. The re-seller packaging often fits both needs.

Failing that, "black foam" or "pink foam" which are readily available, offer a reasonable ESD and physical damage barrier.

Don't use things like styrofoam which generates static and can damage sensitive components. I think your suggestion of putting them in a bottle is not a good one as they are easily damaged like that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for conductive foam \$\endgroup\$
    – copper.hat
    Feb 16 at 23:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ "In my day"... we got ICs in long thin tubes with a C-shape (for the thru-pins). Those were a PITA to store! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18 at 18:46
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a half step or so beyond the hobby perspective, and this tries to address the question of "finding the parts" in addition to "storing them".

method 1: clear plastic bins from walmart etc, sold as "bead organizers". example ... inside that use little mini ziploc bags for the parts too, so they don't go flying all over the place. not appropriate for all part types. Write a "map" of what's in the box on the lid with sharpie. (erase with isopropanol if needed).

method 2: keep in original bag, or matching sized anti static ziplocs, put those into shoebox-sized clear totes, and be obsessive about keeping them sorted. Having 4-5 subdivisions within each container can help, keeps bags upright, abbreviated label w/ sharpie on top, go thru them like card catalog of old.

method 3: per-project containers (the inevitable end state), but of limited use when prototyping/experimenting, IMO


A related practice: if re-bagging, or binning, a coworker showed me to take scissors and cut out the label from the original bag, just a little rectangle with the full mfg and vendor part numbers, description etc, and put it in the new bag, as a kanban for reordering.

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Yes, it will damage the ICs

Unless a container is specifically designed to be anti-static, the IC is at risk of being damaged by static shock. That's a risk, not an absolute - but why risk it in the first place?

The best solution is to keep them in the bag/tube they came in, until you need them. The less you handle ICs, the happier they're going to be.

If you really do want to consolidate your ICs into one place, you need an anti-static plastic box, and anti-static foam inside the box which you push the ICs into. This isn't ideal because you've had to handle the ICs to get them in there, but at least they're safe from that point.

And you now know that the person who told you this has zero understanding of electronics. Ignore their input on everything related to electronics in future, because their advice, however well-intentioned, will result in damage to your equipment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ the last paragraph seems awfully condescending \$\endgroup\$
    – user253751
    Feb 17 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user253751 Not at all. I haven't said "and this makes them bad or stupid". I've just said that they have zero knowledge, and their input should be ignored because of that. I don't understand brain surgery either, so if I was to give suggestions on that then you should equally well ignore me. If you don't understand ESD then you are not only incapable of having useful input, but your suggestions are likely to be actively harmful. The OP didn't know that. Now they do, and they know not to take suggestions from people who are well-meaning but will cause damage to their equipment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Feb 17 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 Regarding the last paragraph, no it won't. I've stored parts this way for years and never had a blown part. Most parts (With the exception of FETs) simply CANNOT be damaged by the amount of static that builds up in such an environment. ESD protection diodes exist for this reason. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThorLancaster Do you also park your car by running into a wall, because your car has bumpers? Most parts absolutely can be and are damaged by this static. What's more, the damage can lead to degradation in performance or reduced life rather than just total failure, so you might not notice it immediately. This has been known in industry for over 40 years - it's not new or controversial. ESD diodes are a last-ditch defense for very limited levels of charge. As a hobbyist, you've adopted a bad way of working, and I guess you've mostly got away with it. It still doesn't make this a good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Feb 19 at 2:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Graham To be fair, TTL chips are fairly resistant to reasonable handling, even without special precautions. Try doing the same with a CMOS chip, though, and you'll quickly learn how static-filled our usual handling of stuff is :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Luaan
    Feb 19 at 10:09

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