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Octopart Search Engine for Electronic Parts – Direct Components Inc

Searching for ICs and More With Direct Components Inc. and Octopart.com

In the world of electronic design, it can be hard to get moving in the right direction. Even if you’ve created and simulated a great schematic packed with the ideal components, you still have to leap through hurdles to get the parts together.

Today’s web-based part search tools may make it easier to find what you’re looking for. Here’s a quick primer on how the popular Octopart.com service works.

What Is Octopart?

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This website is a component-oriented meta-search tool. When you look up a term such as “LM317 voltage regulator,” the system will search through a host of verified manufacturer and distributor databases to find it. The site then displays the results along with a smattering of helpful information, including

  • Distributor data, such as stock numbers, packaging types, seller SKU numbers and minimum-order quantities,
  • Unit-based pricing that makes it easy to see volume-based cost-breaks and find out how recently such deals were updated, and
  • Links to datasheet PDF files.

Benefits of Octopart

Why do people search for electronic components using Octopart? This tool is specifically focused on letting users compare their options. It displays competing prices alongside each other in an easy-to-read format and generally provides a broad spectrum of informative results.

Many users also appreciate the minimalistic browsing experience. Although the company doesn’t sell any parts itself, it generates revenue by taking small sponsorship fees from the many distributors whose components it lists. It also sells banners and other ads, although these bits of marketing content are tasteful enough not to detract from the main event. One neat aspect of the way the search function operates is that it doesn’t let manufacturers or distributors pay for higher rankings. Instead, parts results are purely based on how the algorithm interprets the text you enter.

Octopart.com also publishes a convenient API for automated work. For instance, someone who uses a circuit optimizer program to tweak their designs for optimal performance can query the database seeking part numbers, manufacturers, categories or other parameters via the command-line or any programming language that supports HTTP requests.

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Account-holder Services

The main idea behind this site is to lower the barriers to entry that typically make hunting for components such a hassle. To this end, it has some cool features that might appeal to people in the midst of substantial projects. For instance, some parts let you view CAD models, such as schematic symbols and PCB footprints, in formats that comply with Altium Designer, EAGLE or Upverter. You can also keep track of more complex projects with the bill of materials, or BOM, tool. It’s easy to add something specific to your plans simply by clicking the “Add to BOM” button on the relevant product listing.

It should be noted that the BOM tool and model downloads are reserved for users who have accounts with the site. At the time of this reporting, accounts were free, and since this had been the standard since the site’s inception in 2006, there was no reason to think the status quo would change. Account-holders can sign up using nothing more than a valid email address, and those who do also get to save their favorite currencies, country settings and preferred distributors.

Solving Hurdles With Direct Components Inc

Unfortunately for some electronics hobbyists and professionals, Octopart.com might fall short of the ideal one-stop solution. The site is only for comparing and researching prices — not for making direct purchases. In other words, you’ll still have to take an extra step to get the components you want.

One-stop Sourcing

Shopping at Direct Components makes it easier to do things in one fell swoop. Since you can search a vast repository of parts, you don’t have to waste as much time hunting, and you can spend more time building.

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Help With Advanced Solutions

It’s not always easy to utilize an acquired component correctly. Items like FPGAs and microcontrollers are plagued by fakes, especially when it comes to older hardware. Although datasheets and application note documents can help clear things up, they may include printing errors or version-specific aspects that simply confuse the issue.

Working with an experienced distributor allows you to jump these hurdles with grace. Direct Components Inc lets you get your hands on a range of component flavors within any family or architecture. Its detail-oriented stocking approach and descriptive listings also ensure you know precisely what you’re dealing with. Such benefits are must-haves when your development process involves practices like iterative testing.

Verifiable Part Information

Part quality can also prove problematic when sourcing ICs and discrete parts. For instance, imagine that you purchased something that was stored in improper environmental conditions. You might have to waste time sorting through degraded — or ESD-fried — components, which is unacceptable for high-volume fabrication processes, such as pick-and-place.

Working with Direct Components Inc grants you the assurance that every part you source will come from an ANSI/ESD-S20.20-2014-compliant warehouse. The firm also operates an in-house lab that performs critical verification processes, such as X-ray analyses and decapsulation-based die inspections. What’s more, its vacuum sealing and baking facilities keep your components safe in transit.

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High-end Hardware

Part quality can also prove problematic when sourcing ICs and discrete parts. For instance, imagine that you purchased something that was stored in improper environmental conditions. You might have to waste time sorting through degraded — or ESD-fried — components, which is unacceptable for high-volume fabrication processes, such as pick-and-place.

Working with Direct Components Inc grants you the assurance that every part you source will come from an ANSI/ESD-S20.20-2014-compliant warehouse. The firm also operates an in-house lab that performs critical verification processes, such as X-ray analyses and decapsulation-based die inspections. What’s more, its vacuum sealing and baking facilities keep your components safe in transit.

Final Verdict on Parts Sourcing

Tools like the ones available at Octopart.com are invaluable for low-cost prototyping. Most people are already going to conduct in-depth searches, but being able to see all of the information at once comes in handy.

On the other hand, these aggregators can only assist you with half of the battle. It’s up to you to find a reliable distribution partner that helps you secure the certified electronic parts you need to build great circuits. While your search might start with Octopart, Google or some other tool, visiting Direct Components Inc is a valuable step in your journey towards a more useful parts library.