Lately we have been seeing headlines about electronics manufacturers finding it hard to find electronic parts to create new devices. It’s clear that the COVID pandemic has affected the electronics industry supply chain on two levels. Demand of key components has increased much faster than supply can fulfill. On top of that, the new products being sent to the market are using electronic components that become dated so quickly which is a problem the authorities need to address to ensure there is not too much E-waste in the immediate future.
What happens if you have an old device that requires a part replacement and all you can find about the product is that it is a discontinued part, but you want to fix that product and reuse it? So, what are the basic steps you can take to locate some of these obsolete electronic parts online?
Quickest Ways to Locate Obsolete Components and Find Electronic Parts
- Use electronic components search engines finders
There are a few electronic parts finders online that you can use to locate hard to find parts. One that I often use for sourcing and comparing the best prices and find inventory availability is oemsecrets.com. They have a simple easy to use interface and gives accurate results as it gives you a printout based on unique manufacturer’s part number (MPN) and the various price breaks from all the authorized distributors on their website. If the part is not available, they have alternative parts data. To utilize the tool, you can quickly Google OEM Secrets and use their cloud-based BoM tool for bulk list upload.
- Check & Advertise on Classified Listing Sites
You will be surprised how many people out who share the same problem or have been in your shoes before looking for same part as you. Sharing on forums and advertising what missing electronic part you are looking will engage other to help you in sourcing. The online community is usually good at pointing someone in the right direction. Often you find people are willing to sell their old electronics which you can then salvage the parts you need. Key platforms you could use, which I found very useful were reddit, Facebook groups, collectors fan clubs and even contacting your local repair shop.
- Explore the Manufacturer’s Website
Even though a product has come to end of line (EOL), some manufacturers often continue making spare parts of electronics they no longer have in the production lines. If they do not have them in stock enquiring about the part could result them producing the obsolete part for you if you wanted it. Big manufacturers would have resource pages with useful links to third party website that you could source from if you geographically located close to that company. Please note that the manufacturers are best placed to offer you information and recommendation on alternative part as replacements to serve the same function.
- Google The Part Number including Bing search engine
Manufacturers Part Number is unique to every part and therefore using the part model number to search on the search engines especially Google which has 85% of the overall search traffic over the internet. By using the part number and the manufacturer’s name, you make the search unique, and this makes easy to locate the websites with this stock and the best match price. If you are good at using query parameters, you can specify to fine search.
- Buy Second-Hand Electronics for Spare Parts
Dismantling old equipment is a favorite hobby of mine and I do this a lot. When I find myself in car boot sales, I will buy old electronics mainly to get useful parts like capacitors, transformers, resistors, diodes, motors, displays, microprocessors, etc. which come very handy in DIY projects. Since used electronics are cheaper, you can use them to mainly repair old broken devices and if you analyze this carefully, it makes future projects very affordable while solving current parts shortage.
The above methods have been effective in helping me find hard to find electronic parts and am sure it can be applied by engineers, hobbyist and professionals whether you are in the US, UK, India, Europe, Africa, etc., to revive and give life to old electronics.
Article researched and compiled by electronicscomponents.co.uk writer Pascal Max.