It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that anyone reading these words has struggled at one time or another to keep an ever growing collection of electronic bits and bobs from descending into absolute chaos. Tossing them all into plastic bins is at least a start down the road to long-term organization, but they still needed to be sorted and inventoried if you want to avoid the wasted time and money of buying parts you forgot you already had.
For his latest project, [Zack Freedman] decided to finally tackle the personal parts collection that he’s ended up lugging around for the last several years. The first half of the battle was just figuring out what he actually had, what he was likely to need down the line, and getting it all sorted out so he didn’t have to keep rummaging through a big pile to find what he needed. But it’s not enough to get organized, you also need to stay organized.
Which is why he then turned his attention to how all these newly sorted components would actually be stored going forward. He already had a trio of Harbor Freight bin organizers, but as one expects from that fine retailer, they were only marginally suitable for the task at hand. So [Zack] designed a 3D printed faceplate that could snap onto the original plastic bin. The new fronts made them easier to grab and featured an opening to accept a laser-etched plastic label.
To give them a little visual flair, he decided to print the faceplates using rainbow gradient filament. To prevent them from being random colors, he used the relatively obscure sequential slicing option so his Prusa i3 would print each faceplate in its entirety before moving over to the next one on the bed. This took far longer than doing them in parallel (especially since he had access to multiple printers), but makes for a much nicer aesthetic as the color smoothly transitions between each bin on the wall. It also has a practical benefit, as you can tell at a glance if any of the bins have found themselves in the wrong spot.
If you really want to go off the deep end, we’ve seen hackers light individual bins with RGB LEDs tied into a searchable inventory system. But for most hobbyists, simply learning when to purge would be more practical.