Monday, January 07, 2019

OK, so I'll be Captain Obvious

I've mentioned many times on this blog how I came to be an Amateur Radio operator and how I built my first receiver, a Heathkit HR-1680. Suffice it to say, I've been building kits for the last 40 years. And in all that time, I've inventoried, separated and organized components the tried and true way - muffin tins. This was the method I read about while devouring books on "How to Become a Radio Amateur" in my younger days. The older Novice License Manuals from pre-1070s invariably had chapters on how to construct your own first simple receiver and simple transmitter, and they always showed the sorted components neatly organized and laid out in recommended muffin tins.

I think that at one time or another, we've all used these; whether they be the real nice ones, like the one above, or even the cheapie disposable aluminum ones. Each muffin tin offers a dozen little compartments for separating out resistors, transistors, ICs, capacitors, etc. Right?

Muffin tins present a problem, however. If you're building something other than a simple kit which can be done in one sitting, muffin tins can present a disaster. They can be accidentally tipped over, spilling their entire contents onto the shack floor (or the floor of wherever you do your kit building). There's nothing more frustrating and aggravating than crawling around on your hands and knees looking for parts (AND hoping against hope that you find them all!) because you, or maybe even a pet came by and knocked the tin over.

One time, while I was building a kit, my knee hit a tin as I was getting up out of my chair. Not only did some of the parts land on the shack floor, I think a couple SMD components got launched into orbit. I never found some of them and had to order replacements via Mouser or Jameco or Digikey. Not only was it frustrating, which was bad enough, but then there was added expense and delay time to deal with.

The solution to this came to me one year while I was coloring Easter eggs with my two kids. Egg cartons!

It had never occurred to me to use egg cartons! Duh! Captain Obvious strikes again!

They have the same number of twelve little compartments, but ........... and here's the BIG BUT ........ you can close an egg carton when you're not actually working on your kit! So if you (or your cat or dog or hamster or gerbil) accidentally bump into your parts container, they may get a bit disorganized - but they'll remain safely "locked" inside. No more crawling around and muttering expletives under your breath while looking for that lost resistor or diode!

I'm sure most of you who are reading this are probably thinking, "Is he really THAT dense? NOBODY can be THAT dense, can they?" And I'll have to answer you, "Yes. Yes they can; and yes I am." But on the off chance there's someone out there as badly off as me; I'm hoping I can save you a bit of frustration, time and expense.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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