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Back in the "good old times" when I had a device fail I could grab my trusty old transistor cross reference book and find a replacement part with the same footprint and comparable parameters in a very short time. I know that no one prints such books anymore for good reasons. But also finding good, neutral cross reference lists (which are not just published by one manufacturer) is not easy...

Have the parametric search capabilities of the electronics distributors made cross references obsolete? (I think, they are no real replacement for a cross reference book that often list obscure, obsolete parts and their replacements).

So how do you go about finding replacement parts today?

Edit: I managed to reach collegue at a former employer and send me a photo of the "döv Transistor 1, Vergleichstabelle" book I left there. I found this book in a thriftstore in the early 2000 (but only A-Z, the 0-µ was not there) and later left it at that workplace because it was usefull there. döv Transistor 1 A-Z, Vergleichstabelle

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As availability is an important property these days, parametric search on distributor and manufacturer websites is probably the best option. The pitfalls are no or wrong entries for some parameters which may result in adequate replacement parts not showing up. Also there are certainly many important parameters that cannot be filtered for.

So how would I go about finding a replacement part?

  1. Identify the most important properties of the part that should be replaced (from datasheet/application specific)
  2. Parametric search with reasonable value ranges for these important properties (e.g. on octopart/digikey/mouser/...)
  3. Tweak value ranges, look for stock to reduce the number of matches to a list of << 100
  4. Select the best <10 matches from the list, e.g. sort by price and comparison of lower priority parameters
  5. Check datasheets of these few candidates to confirm a matching replacement

If after any step there is no potential replacement left, I would go one step back or go to another distributor/manufacturer website. You could even go back to Step 1 and relax the requirements if necessary and acceptable.

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