- Published: Wednesday, 17 August 2016
- Written by Jon Chandler
- Hits: 1965
Whether you're designing something new, or building an existing design, Octopart is a handy website to know about and use!
Until recently, my biggest use of Octopart has been to track down needed components and to compare prices. I checked the availability of a high side switch I'm considering for a USB charger is the car I'm working on. I could go to Digikey and Mouser to check the price and availability, but an easier way is to type the part number into Octopart and you'll instantly be presented of a table with price and availability from a number of distributors. Just a note - Octopart covers commercial distributors like Digikey, Mouser and Allied Electronics, but doesn't cover places like Jameco. The table below shows the results for the high side driver.
There are a few important things we can see from the search results. Since this is for a new design, the first thing I noticed was the availability, or in this case, the relative lack of availability. When I first looked at this part a couple weeks ago, the only source was Allied Electronics; they have plenty of them, but they are not one of my go to sources. I know from experience they won't have everything I need, so if I'm only going to buy one or two of these components, having Allied as the only source means added costs for shipping (two difference orders to get everything I need).
I did some additional digging and found an alternative high side switch that would work just as well. Let's take a look at its availability.
That's better. Plenty of stock at Digikey and Mouser (my usual sources) and the price is better too. The table also shows the price at various distributors. Most of the time, the prices will be similar between the distributors, but this isn't always the case; sometimes the differences can be considerable.
As a bit of an aside, Arrow has been coming up more and more often with aggressive pricing. They may not have all the parts you need, but the difference in pricing may justify splitting your order between them and another distributor. This was the case with my audio beeper board where a savings were considerable when ordering parts in lots of ten.
I've been using Octopart for this feature for a couple years now. But recently I tried another feature of their site, the BOM (Bill of Materials) tool. You can enter the parts required for a project (which are stored for future reference) and you're presented with a table for all the parts in your project. It shows the parts, warns you of availability problems and gives the pricing for a number of distributors. I'll have to show the table in two parts but I can also share the table so you can see it live. You have the option of sharing it to view or to view and edit, which is handy if you're working on a group project.
The yellow box by the resistor network on line 7 means there's a limited number of suppliers; in this case, Digikey is one of the suppliers with stock, so it's not a problem. If the box is red, you have a problem - finding that component may be difficult or impossible. There is nothing worse than designing a circuit around the perfect part, even laying out a circuit board, and finding it's not available!
The second part of the table shows stock and pricing at preferred vendors and further to the right other vendors with stock. In the upper right corner, the cost to fill the BOM is shown.
If you click in the "matched parts" column, it will call up the usual page for the part.
In most cases, clicking on the price under a specific vendor brings up their web page for the part.
Definitely worth a look. Octopart has many other features which I have yet to explore.