Octopart - search engine for electronic parts

Two weeks ago I met with Andres and Sam of Octopart. Andres had literally dropped out of graduate school the day before to join Sam full-time building their search engine for electronic parts. You enter the part number, or simply its title or use, and Octopart returns the best matched specific components, their prices and availability from several suppliers, and links to the relevant catalog pages.

I wish this had existed back in 1998. At the time, I was in charge of building the power controller for a web-controlled, wireless robot with a live video feed as part of the ultimate class in MIT's undergraduate mechanical engineering program, 2.009 Product Design. What is now a relatively easy task, was really kicking my butt then. After two painstakingly hand-built MOSFET H-bridges driven by charge pumps had exploded in my face, I was at my wits ends. I knew there had to be a better solution, but could not find it anywhere. At one stage, I even sat down with the Digikey catalog, and started reading through all of the components in the sections I thought might have something relevant.

Pop "h-bridge" into Octopart and the fourth result is my favorite chip (and what eventually saved my skin in 2.009), the LMD18200. Hey look, the cheapest price with the highest availability is at Digikey, I think I'll get it there...

Octopart is pretty cool as is, and I'm sure there will soon be lots more distributors. What's even more exciting, in my opinion, is the concept of Octopart searching through a webpage, determining what specific parts are mentioned, and generating a personalized shopping cart with the cheapest and most readily available parts. When we spoke, Andres and Sam said it might be a few months until they were ready to release at all - it would seem quiting grad school has been good to Octopart, so I'm sure cool new additions are right around the corner.

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CameronSS10 years ago
Does anyone know TI's rules on free samples? Like, say I wanted about six or seven 74AC240 ICs that I can only find in bulk orders. Do they give out samples to individuals that just want to make a walking robot and a headbot that follows you? I found the samples section of the websites, I was just wondering if they care about anyone but mega companies.
ewilhelm (author) 10 years ago
A friend just sent this, which people might also find useful:

Eric,

Follow-up from your excitement in March about electronic parts vertical search engines, a friend brought this apparently new one to my attention:

EDN = Electronic Design News Magazine

http://www.edn.com/index.asp?layout=supplyframe

Now available on EDN.com, a new search engine built just for the electronics industry. Instantly retrieve information on any electronic component with the new SupplyFrame-powered part search engine. Search by part number to get critical information you need during the design process.

  • Data sheets
  • Cross-references
  • RoHS compliance
  • Multiple source options
  • Lead time trends
  • Minimums/multiples and more
  • Authorized distributors
  • Price and availability
At EDN.com, SupplyFrame gives you all the specific data you need, not just a page of links. Easy access to clear, up-to-date information about millions of electronic components along with easy, powerful tools to quote, analyze and communicate with partners.

All available with no charge and no registration.
designline10 years ago
Not too sure if inventoryhub.com still have the plan to go ahead and complete its project by the end of this year? I remember receiving and email regarding that last month. I hope they do because the demo they offer by email was very impressive
JZ10 years ago
check out www.clickonstock.com I am a buyer and can not tell you enough about how much time I have saved finding parts and getting information such as pricing and datasheets. The site searches information from over 35 franchised distributors!
westfw10 years ago
Partminer was around in 1998, but they've since started charging for access. I don't recall how they were on the sort of search you mention; I used them mostly for pricing searches for specific parts (even bought some AVRs through them.) I recall talking to either digikey or partminer at a trade show; seems that partminer was invasive enough that digikey had to install a "search sever" just for them...
johnke7cw westfw10 years ago
http://www.danssmallpartsandkits.net

I sometimes use Dans Small Parts. He is a surplus house and has some good deals.

http://www.danssmallpartsandkits.net

He is a small one or two car garage operation. A lot of descrete componets and hardware.
DavidR10 years ago
They don't have comments enabled on their blog, so I'll whine (and state the obvious) on yours. My ideal component search would include

  • Much smarter package-type stuff : "DAC with <=20 pins available in non-BGA". "1uF ceramic capacitor in through-hole" "audio amplifier available in SOIC and DIP"
  • Better indexing: No hits for "bridge tied load"? "only" 874 opamps?
  • Some sort of grouping of results. This is the hardest part, I bet, but there's a huge amount of room for progress. The big distributors' catalogs sometimes do this kinda' OK. One axis is grouping of similar parts (search for attiny yields a first page of different flavors of ATTiny 11's.) another is a way to wade through broad spaces of components. Opamps are the classic example here.
  • Better parametric selection. I loathe selecting 17 different voltage ranges in a scrolling multiselect box (1.8V-5V, 1.6V-4.6V, 3.3V, 3.3V-6V, ....) when what I really want to say is "My power supply is 3.3V. Give me parts that can deal."
Of course, I'm really just bitter because I can't find a low-end DAC + BTL speaker driver in one simple cheap package.

dan10 years ago
www.findchips.com works pretty good, although they have not added any new feature in a while so i guess the time is ripe if someone has thought of a better way.