How Octopart Can Help You Find Parts Fast

Octopart helps you find parts fast. Whether you’re looking to discover which part will work for your project or trying to find the best price offered by distributors, Octopart offers a lot of tools that can save you and your team time and money while building your next electronics product. Let’s walk through an example of how Octopart can help you get work done.

octopart home page

Octopart home page

Let’s say you are building an activity tracker, and because of low power requirements, you have decided to use MSP430 as the microcontroller of the tracker. When you search MSP430 on Octopart, you get a list of MSP430 based MCUs with many different packages. The search results show the most relevant parts for your query at the top of the page, as determined by our organic search algorithm. You can toggle between our “Prices” view, which makes it easy to compare pricing and stock information, and our “Specs” view, which shows a dense list of parts with technical specs you can sort by. We’ll start in the “Prices” view as shown below:

‘Prices’ view shows prices, MOQ, and quantity in stock from hundreds of distributors

‘Prices’ view shows prices, MOQ, and quantity in stock from hundreds of distributors

Let’s see how Octopart can help you find a particular MCU.

1. See quantity in stock across hundreds of distributors:

Octopart shows you stock availability from over 250 distributors. From this search, it looks like some packages of MSP430 are better stocked than others. Octopart shows Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) as well, so you can see which distributors require you to order higher amounts and which you can order fewer from if you’re buying low volume. Choosing the right distributor can be key to finishing the product in time.

2. Easily compare prices across hundreds of distributors:

In  your search results, you’ll see pricing from distributors on the right side of your search results (by default you’ll see 5, click “see all” at the bottom of the search results to see the complete list of distributors stocking that part). At a glance, you can see pricing information at order quantities of 1, 10, 100, 1000, and 10,000, so you can quickly see which distributors offer the best price for the quantity you need, no matter the volume. For example, MSP430FW427 is more expensive from the TI store than from Digi-Key for quantities up to 100, but for larger quantities, it’s cheaper from TI Store.

3. Easily compare parts with median price information:

You can quickly browse through median prices (calculated at a quantity of 1000) to get an overall sense of how expensive the part is. You can see the median price in “Prices” view as shown below:

median price

See median price at qty. 1000 on the search results page

Another way to see median price is in the “Specs” view (accessible by clicking the grid icon at the top left corner of the search results page).

It looks like MSP430F5528 has a high median price. One way to look into why that might be is downloading its datasheet, which you can do by clicking the icon on the right side of the search results in the “Prices” view. You can also switch to the “Specs” view to quickly compare more parts at a time using technical or physical attribute, and to discover new parts with the specs you are looking for.

You’ll see that the MSP430F5528 has a higher median price because it has more RAM and higher frequency, as shown below. If you think this part is worth the price, you can click on the SKU to go to the distributor’s website and buy it, otherwise you can keep looking for parts in the same part family that have a better price for what you’re making.  

specs view

The “Specs” view shows parts’ median price along with key technical values

4. You can also sort by median price:

Now that you have a general feel for what MSP430 costs, we can sort by median price and see which one is the cheapest MSP430 in the market. You can change the sort to “Lowest Price” as shown below.

sort by lowest price

Sort by “Lowest Price” to find cheapest parts

5. Use filters to narrow parts by attribute:

You can also use filters to narrow down your search. Let’s say you want at least 16MHz of frequency. You can use the filters to get the MSP430 you want, filtered by minimum frequency, as shown below.

filters on octopart

Use filters to narrow down your search

Here are the results for all MSP430s with at least 16MHz frequency and sorted by cheapest price. Having sorted by cheapest price, let’s choose MSP430G2230 as it’s the cheapest among the MCUs with at least 16MHz frequency.  

6. Quickly add the part to your BOM with the Add to BOM button:

Having decided on the part, you can quickly add the MSP430G2230 to an existing BOM, or create a new one with it, with the Add to BOM button. You can do this by clicking back to the “Prices” view, and clicking “Add to BOM.”

add to bom

Use Add to BOM to quickly add parts to your BOM

Since you’re making an activity tracker, you’ll probably want to add decoupling caps, LEDs, resistors, accelerometers, switches, and a micro-USB connectors to your BOM. If you already know the MPNs you need, you can paste them right into the BOM and they’ll be automatically added, otherwise you can find the parts you need on Octopart and quickly add them to the BOM like we just did. Once you’ve added those to your  BOM for an activity tracker, you’ll see that the availability indicators are all green, meaning that all your parts are available from distributors and you’ll have choice of distributors to buy from. You can read more about ways Octopart can make your BOM great here.

activity tracker BOM

Build your BOM and see prices, availability, and more  

7. See how unit prices change depending on how many activity trackers you’re making:

Here is the BOM for the activity tracker we are trying to build. The total cost is $12.57 for a single unit, or a batch size of 1. If we increase the batch size to 50 activity trackers, the unit cost of each activity tracker drops to $8.77 because we know the prices from distributors at a price break of 50 units.

batch size

See how unit prices change with batch size in the BOM tool

8. Export your BOM into a shopping cart using “Buy Now”:

After you’ve added all the parts you need to the BOM, you can export your shopping list using “Buy Now” to purchase all your parts. You can also export your list as a .CSV.

buy now parts

Create a shopping cart on a distributor website using “Buy Now”

9. Refer to the Common Parts Library for finding popular, widely available parts:

For this project, you might want to use a 10nF decoupling cap or quickly find a decent 1k resistor or a red LED, but you’re not sure which MPN is the best and just want something that everyone else uses for similar projects. You can find all these parts and more in the Common Parts Library, a library of commonly used components for connected device products that we compiled with a community of makers, engineers, and leaders in the industry like Seeed Studio.

cpl for production

cpl octopart

Common Parts Library for finding popular generic parts

Our partner SnapEDA helped us make a single library of IPC-compliant symbols and footprints for all CPL parts that work in popular PCB design tools including Altium Designer, Eagle, and KiCad. This will reduce the time you spend making the footprints manually so you can design faster. Download the symbols and footprints library here and don’t forget to read the setup instructions.

10. Use the Octopart API or CPL Data on Github to build your own applications:

You can use Octopart API to access data on over 40 million parts if you want to build custom applications. You can also use CPL data on Github, available in YAML format, to access CPL in structured form to build your own applications — say to auto-populate passive components in a spreadsheet.

11. Read our awesome Octopart blog and chat with us!

Read our blog to stay up-to-date with Octopart updates and new features, learn about different components, read our thoughts on the industry, and see how we’re solving data problems at Octopart. Some of my favorites are How to Select a Capacitor, Guide to IC Packages, and Search Technology: Behind the Scenes.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get monthly updates from us, to learn more about component search, building BOMs, and what’s new at Octopart!

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  • Gert

    My currency is EUR, the median price is in $.

    How can I change the median price currency?