Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

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Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Tetrium » 2015-12-19 @ 20:22

Branched off of this thread here viewtopic.php?f=46&t=46026

The idea of this thread is that theres always new people getting that nostalgia bug most of us are very familiar with. And most of us will at some point arrive at the exact same problem: How to best organize our ( often growing) collection of retro computer stuff? Because at the start it's all very simple. One gets some old computer and installs some old version of Windows and starts playing some older games.
But lets not fool ourselves into thinking that this is the end. Lol no! This isn't even the beginning of the end! As for many of us, this is merely the end of the beginning, the mere beginning of an awesome journey filled with both pleasure and PAIN lol! As one will start getting interested in exploring the fascinating world of physical digital nostalgia, each attuned to the respective persons wishes and interests (which may also shift over time).

To me, the exact details of what we collect is of much lesser importance. I personally collect mostly parts of everything, wanting to be able to try out anything I want to a certain degree, but I care less about boxed items and paper manuals (even though I always keep those anyway, I prefer to own the actual hardware above all). Some others will of course prefer to have as much of the original stuff in as exact as possible a way as it was years ago and prefer to have items in as much closely resembling the condition as when they were sold, including the boxes (the less wear and tear the better), the manuals, all cables, in as original condition as possible, sometimes even in it's original shrink wrap.
Some others may be mostly into collecting physical copies of games, rare or common, and the hardware they play these games on is of lesser importance and some will prefer to collect rare items, even if they serve no practical use other than just looking at them and maybe bragging rights.

But the thing is, there is no wrong or right way to do it, we all have out own opinions and our own visions of how we want to persue our hobbies and the best thing is that there basically is no wrong way of doing it, yet we all sooner or later arrive at the same problems and one of them is what this thread is about.

How do we store and organize our collections? Which great ideas made your lives vastly more pleasurable? Which solutions did you come up with and what worked for you and what certainly didn't?

So this is what I intent this thread to be mostly about.

So what do you Vogoners collect, why and how do you people organize your retro computing collections so you don't loose control over your collections and over your minds?

Feel free to chime in!
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-12-19 @ 22:26

I have a row of plastic shelves. In the shelved large 50L plastic containers. They are all labelled. AGP graphics, PCIe graphics, CPU coolers, VGA cables, PSUs... I put stickers on the containers and label them.

I have a ton of anti static bags which I bought on eBay, but also use sandwich bags with zip lock to put things in. I also have lots of small storage containers for things such as processors, RAM and so on.

I don't have a list of what I have, I somehow remember it all, which is odd, I don't have the best memory.

Motherboards go in large anti static bags and special plastic containers, thinner ones, like the ones you can slide under your ned.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby boxpressed » 2015-12-20 @ 00:39

I believe that I included a photo like the one below in an earlier post, but this is the way that I organize my loose video and sound cards. I use box protectors for video game boxes (Atari 2600-sized). They are made of a relatively thick clear plastic. Most cards will fit in this size box and the ones that are a little longer will fit into a box protector made for Intellivision games. The even longer cards go into the plastic cases that you see at the ends of the bin (mostly 16-bit sound cards). The box protectors are less than $1 each.

I buy these pink anti-static bags off eBay and prefer them to the traditional smoke-colored bags because it is easier to identify the card inside.

I have one bin for sound cards and one for video cards, but I could fill almost another bin with new sound cards.

This is the only organizational method that I'm happy with; boxed items are all over the place in my home office and basement.

P1120027.JPG
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby shamino » 2015-12-20 @ 06:17

I have some things in plastic drawers, but also a lot of stuff in cardboard boxes. I don't have a great system and it could use improvement.
The motherboards I care about are in metal shielding bags, stored vertically in a cardboard box. I think vertical is better than horizontal for pretty much the same reasons as you'd do this with vinyl records.
I have some boards I don't care much about which are not so carefully stored. A fair number are only kept as scrap parts donors.
My ISA sound cards are in shielding bags and in a cardboard box with antistatic bubble wrap between them. They take quite a bit of space for what they are. I'm willing to go to greater lengths to protect ISA sound cards because they tend to be expensive to replace nowadays and I've had them turn up dead before. There are some I'd probably never replace, I'd just mourn their loss.

PGA style CPUs are in trays that I got on eBay. Same with memory. Neither of those are any big deal to replace. I have a few Pentium Pro chips that are stored in a solid container on foam. mPGA and LGA chips (what few I have) don't fit the tray so they're in OEM plastic containers or wrapped up in bubble wrap. Most of my slot-1 CPUs + HSFs are stacked in a plastic drawer, some are in cardboard.

I decided to get a small stockpile of blank Taiyo Yuden CDRs and DVD+Rs. They are in a cardboard box, oriented so discs are vertical. The paper stuffing inside the box was replaced with bubble wrap because paper attracts moisture. I guess ideally the cardboard box shouldn't be used either, but I kept it. The box is in a black trash bag to block light. Maybe it's overkill, but light, moisture, and heat are all things that degrade CDRs.


One note about the pink antistatic bags: they don't block external static discharge, their only function is that they don't generate static themselves. The metallized shielding bags will block it, so at least in theory they should protect better than the pink bags do.
Last edited by shamino on 2015-12-20 @ 07:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Malvineous » 2015-12-20 @ 07:21

I recently found an ESD container designed for carrying sticks of RAM, which has proven to be very handy. Unfortunately I could only find ones that fit SO-DIMM and normal (DDR) sized RAM, which means it can fit SDRAM and everything since as those sticks are all the same physical width, but not 72-pin or earlier memory.

I also tried out an ESD-safe PCB tray, thinking it would be a useful way to stack ISA/PCI cards in a suitably sized drawer or container, but I have to say it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. Narrow cards tend to fall off as one edge is heavier than the other, and lining up long cards so they are balanced tends to result in the slot connector only touching one side of the tray's slot, causing the card to sit at an odd angle. Plus they tend to move back and forth as a drawer is opened, banging into each other and getting stuck. I think @boxpressed's idea of putting each card into some sort of plastic case is much better.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Tetrium » 2015-12-20 @ 12:07

At some point I got a hold of several large foam blocks with room for 20 harddrives each and first started filling up those.
At some point all of these were all filled up so I tried a few ways but settled for stacking them on top of eachother (carefully!), each packaged in an anti-static bag and I either stacked them inside boxes (either sideways or on top of eachother, whatever seemed the best way for each box) or on shelves, preferably sorted by size.

My attic looks much different now, heres the first bacth of pics I posted on Vogons years ago, it shows the foam boxes I mentioned earlier viewtopic.php?f=25&t=23136&start=40#p182675

The red and yellow boxes are my infamous kiwi-boxes, which are my #1 preferred cardboard box storage method.

I always try to sort stuff according to their use.

Memory modules I also keep in anti-static bags and sort them into boxes by connector first (in which slot does it go?), then type of memory (FPM/EDO/SDRAM/DDR/etc) and finally by their remaining attributes (module size, speed, organization and sometimes brands and module timings). I always try to keep 72p SIMM modules together so I always see which ones I have pairs of.

Graphics cards I mostly store by their connector first (AGP, PCI, etc), then by rough performance and some types of cards I store by their brands or GPU (most noticeably anything 3DFX together, all S3 Virges together, Renditions together, etc). I store all VGA passthrough cables and SLI cables together with the V1 and V2 cards in a single box, because I'll hardly ever use one without the other.

Sound cards I have spent less effort in though, but mostly I have sorted them into boxes like "sc Creative PCI" etc (with "sc" standing for sound card).

Things like power cables and other cables I basically either put into larger boxes, sorted by type of cable. I prefer boxes over the large sturdy shopping bags because the shopping bags are harder to stack :P
I prefer the shopping bags though when I need to move stuff around.

For PGA CPUs I found that one simply cannot beat the traditional CPU trays. Slot CPUs I store in either kiwi boxes or shoe boxes, also because of their size (especially when including a cooler). Slot CPUs in the SECC2 or SEPP package (the ones where the CPU die is visible) I try to store more carefully to prevent accidental damage in case the box get handled without enough care and the more interesting Slot 1 CPUs I store separately (like the fastest Katmai's, fastest Coppermines and any Deschutes 333 or 400 which are not fully multiplier-locked).

Motherboards I store mostly in motherboard boxes as in a way, that's basically what those boxes were made for. But due to space constraints I often will need to store 2 motherboards in a single box and use something to prevent the 2 motherboards from scratching and thus perhaps damaging eachother while the motherboard box is handled (either a sheet of cardboard or sometimes foamy stuff). When I have 2 similar boards, I prefer to put these together in one box whenever I can. The i/o plates I typically store with the boards, except for the oldest ATX ones which all use the same i/o plate.
I sort motherboards by their type first (AT or ATX), then by socket and finally by what CPU's they support (so Tully boards won't go on the same stack as s370 boards which only work with the first PGA Celeron's) and all stacks of motherboard boxes are again sorted from right to left by age basically (386 boards to the far right, then 486, then s4, s5 and s7, etc).

And hardware will be marked whenever applicable, for instance a cross when it's dead or a curly mark when it was tested successfully, basically any information about the item I deem handy for increased workflow. Motherboard boxes I just add a sheet of paper with the board model numbers written down and any particular stuff like damaged memory slots and other inconsistencies.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby meljor » 2015-12-20 @ 14:32

I made something like those pcb trays from wood.
By using trays i can easily grab any card i want to use, organised by soundcards,agp cards, 3dfx cards, pci cards and various.
Mainboards are stored in platic containers as they are mostly backups that i don't have to dig out very often.

Every time i have trouble organizing i just realize i have to much stuff and some components need to go. I just can't keep every single thing and the collection gets better and better this way and is nearing completion.

Always hard to choose between nice to have and nice to actually USE.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby tayyare » 2015-12-20 @ 21:46

I probably have one of the smallest collections around, so my job is easier. So, I have this:

DSC_1899.JPG

this:

DSC_1902.JPG

this:

DSC_1901.JPG

this:

DSC_1903.JPG

and this:
Inventory.zip
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Ariakos » 2015-12-20 @ 22:21

My style of storing stuff is pretty much this:
Image

Most of the cards are in anti-static bags but I've left few not-so-important-or-expensive ones without. Although Boxpressed's video game box idea is very tempting... Makes this whole collecting hobby at least seem more like a professional thing. Maybe I need to spend few bucks to just some good ol' plastic. $)
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Malvineous » 2015-12-22 @ 10:31

I also really like the idea of plastic boxes. Where can you get ones that fit ISA/PCI cards? I had a look at Alibaba and you can order them direct from the factory at whatever size you want, but you have to get at least 1000 which is way more than I need. A group buy might work but probably everyone is all over the world making the shipping quite expensive. I have never seen a local source for things like this.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Mr_ppp » 2016-5-30 @ 14:38

For years I've just bunged them in plastic boxes loose but now its become a bit more serious I've finally splashed out on 140 Antistatic bags of 3 different sizes to cover my collection of boards! No excuse at only a cost of £25 to safeguard them!
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Tetrium » 2016-5-30 @ 15:50

Mr_ppp wrote:For years I've just bunged them in plastic boxes loose but now its become a bit more serious I've finally splashed out on 140 Antistatic bags of 3 different sizes to cover my collection of boards! No excuse at only a cost of £25 to safeguard them!

^^True

I ended up buying 6 bags of anti-static bags, each with 100 anti-static bags. I wanted to try different sizes and concluded the most versatile are big bags large enough to hold very large ATX motherboards (this is also much better when wanting to store a slimmer motherboard which has CPU+HSF mounted, slimmer anti-static bags won't be so versatile anymore).

Other sizes I liked were ones which were a bit wider than a typical expansion board (like a large graphics card that isn't superhuge or a VLB card), these could also house HDDs and other 3.5in drives.

For memory modules I prefered to use ones which were a bit too small for HDDs, but were also not much longer than a typical DIMM. If the bags I keep my memory modules in are much longer than the size of the memory module, I'd be left with lots of unused anti-static bag which I kinda have to fold more when storing the bags with memory modules in small cardboard boxes.

So I'm a big fan of them :)
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2016-5-30 @ 18:42

I got a smoking deal on 200 used-once 7x10 antistatic bags for only $13. They work perfectly for most cards. The only ones that don't fit are the oldest full length IBM PC-era cards which I put in motherboard bags.

Right now most of my card collection is in a few boxes and a few drawers of an old dresser, but I'm in the process of finding a better way to store them.

It's funny this thread popped up again right now actually, as I was just thinking of making a thread asking people how they store their parts collection.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Arctic » 2016-5-30 @ 19:02

I am glad I got these for free (only used once):

Image
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby PeterLI » 2016-5-31 @ 13:50

I use stackable storage crates.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby FaSMaN » 2016-5-31 @ 14:04

Looking at all of the pictures, it reminded me that I needed Antistatic bags asap, seems there not too expensive on aliexpresss about $11 for 200 that are big enough for smallish pci cards and hdds
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2016-6-01 @ 00:54

I started using sandwich bags for some cards. They are readily available and cheap. Unfortunately there aren't bags large enough for motherboards :(

But for all the NICs, SATA controllers and whatnot they are perfect. Gives them that little bit of extra protection when you chuck them into a box.

I don't have that much stuff, so it's quite manageable. I have large 55L or so boxes for motherboards, ISA sound cards, AGP and PCIe graphics card. Other parts I have far less and they go into smaller boxes like PCI / PCIe sound cards or RAM. RAM sticks go into smaller food-type storage containers. Same with processors, but I have these plastic clamp-shell covers before they go in.

Things I use all the time are underneath the desks in my lab (PATA/SATA cables, power cables, tools), but the rest is in shelving in my bedroom.

Every few weeks I put everything away because it can look a bit messy after a project or two :blush:

Then it's great to have a clean work area and start on a new project.

These days I don't struggle finding things any-more. That used to be a problem. Everything has its place and I often need to find things quickly, so getting organised helped a lot with that.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby Tetrium » 2016-6-02 @ 15:04

PhilsComputerLab wrote:I started using sandwich bags for some cards. They are readily available and cheap. Unfortunately there aren't bags large enough for motherboards :(

Things I use all the time are underneath the desks in my lab (PATA/SATA cables, power cables, tools), but the rest is in shelving in my bedroom.

I think most of us will have had quite similar experiences :D
At first it's manageable 'hey, it's only a couple parts! I can just put them in the drawer of my desk!'
But at some point you'll run out of storage...and again...and again and again and again and again! (guess which youtube video I was just watching :P) and the search for a more long-term organizing system that works for you is on and at some point we kinda end up in similar situations, so to say.

I also keep the stuff I use the most, closest by (like screwdrivers, they are so versatile I got at least 15 of em lol! (at least 2 flat and 2 philips in several rooms and a few in my backpack cuz one can never know lol).
PhilsComputerLab wrote:
Every few weeks I put everything away because it can look a bit messy after a project or two :blush:

Then it's great to have a clean work area and start on a new project.

These days I don't struggle finding things any-more. That used to be a problem. Everything has its place and I often need to find things quickly, so getting organised helped a lot with that.

These are some good tips Phil ^_^

And yes, getting organized is kinda half the work, together with having the right tools and right workflow.
Actually, I think it's time I start with attic 3.0, was looking for a couple things and I couldn't find half of it, but I admittedly neglected my own storage area too much in the past time...but I've been so busy with other projects (most non-computer related) that I barely had time to fix it again. And I know perfectly well how important it is. But I''ll get it done, just like all the previous times things started to look messy :).
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby chinny22 » 2016-6-02 @ 16:13

didn't know anti static bags cast so much! I've thrown away loads from work, I could have sold them on ebay!
Since I've being seriously bitten by the bug I've been holding on to them and only now reaching the point were at least what I consider valuable have their own bag.
Also got a spread sheet with most of what I've got and where it is, but I'm bit vague on that point. Its either says which PC, or "stored"
Stored could be in a PC case in our storage unit, in some random box in our storage unit, or somewhere in the flat in a random box.
I've actually been going though what we have in the storage unit and finding stuff I forgot I even had, Mostly crap but things like heatsinks I could have used instead of buying new ones.
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Re: Lets all share tips of how we organize our collection of retro computer stuff :)

Postby badmojo » 2016-6-03 @ 02:42

Yeah I just keep my stuffs in anti-static bags and grouped by type in cardboard boxes, nothing fancy.

Once thing I'm conscious of with regard to my old consoles is not to store them in the box with the foam inserts - controller cords, etc can react with it over time and it can get ugly. I've also seen cords "burn" plastic when left in contact for long periods of time - C64 stuff comes to mind, the datasette unit in particular.
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