Organization of Inventory!

in2tech Jul 9, 2021

  1. rch

    rch TrainBoard Member

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    I originally built my inventory as a spreadsheet in Excel, but eventually I exported it to Google Sheets so I could see it (and edit it) on my phone. That's very useful when I'm at the hobby shop or a train show and I want to know if I already have a certain car number when several might be available. I have also added a wish list tab to track what I'm looking for, so shopping is a little easier.

    The majority of the other tabs are used to sort or filter the data in the master sheet, like a tab listing only cabooses or all intermodal equipment. Another tab lists industries and which cars are suited for those industries. Similarly I have a tab listing different trains and the cars that are specific to those trains.

    It didn't take long to realize many of the columns that were useful to categorize freight cars didn't really apply to locomotives and vice-versa, so I created a new spreadsheet for my locomotive roster. The locomotive roster sheet uses conditional formatting, so certain criteria will cause the row to change color. This is useful to pick out at a glance the locomotives that need decoders, already have them or have sound decoders, for example.

    Again the best part is these files are easily accessible and portable. I can even share them with my friends.
     
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  2. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you.

    The Excel sheet might be the easiest solution, and if it works, why break it. :) Although, Excel would not be accessible online (personally I don't trust google with any of my data).

    This was done in Python using Django framework. The look already comes with the framework so it made ia quick process, and this is the backend of the interface (admin). I'm contemplating making a frontend, so it's easier to browse with endless scrolling through photos of rolling stock, search, etc.

    I've also been thinking whether this would be useful to others, as some kind of an online service. At the moment, it's not being written as a multi-user (MU) environment, but it could be turned into that.

    Another idea I was considering for MU is to have a database of rolling-stock and motive power photos (perhaps contribution driven), so there's no reason for anyone to take own photos, unless specific item is missing, making it even easier to manage.

    Potential drawback could be that people might want to see their specific model (if it's customized and all) and not a generic/someone else's photo. Not sure if it matters that much, it's all still at the back of my head.
     
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  3. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    Although you may not want such an inventory to *require* an internet connection, it might be nice to be able to backup to a cloud drive so that inventory changes can be synched between devices. For example, you update your phone with a wifi connection, possibly while you're still at home, and have it available at a train show. Then buy some stuff (because you will), update your phone, and whenever you reconnect to wifi, your inventory on your home computer(s) synchs the changes and reflects the updated inventory.

    Don't ask me how to do that, but I'm beginning to share Word files that way between my work laptop and my home computer so I don't have to carry my laptop home. I can also work on video editing projects on my laptop when traveling if I synch those projects to my cloud drive.

    I'm no expert but I'm learning that this can be handy stuff.

    Sent from my moto g(7) play using Tapatalk
     
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  4. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    Considering that Cloud is on the internet, the connection is required, and since everyone already has a phone with a data plan, why even go to trouble of uploading/downloading/syncing, or worrying about various revisions/versions of the file(s), etc.

    With an on-line system, it's always there and always up to date (there's only one version). And no special app is needed either - it's all running from a standard web browser.

    Seeing that Microsoft has just pushed Windows 365 into the Cloud, in the next 5 years many people will probably ditch their local desktop setups and run virtual ones through their browser. Personally, I'm not too fond of that solution because they can cut you off anytime for whatever reason, and OS is an essential layer, beside hardware.

    The entire life is going to turn into a subscription...you can imagine what happens when you don't pay your monthly fee. ;)
     
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  5. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    The Cloud is open to anyone and can be cut off for no reason. So personal information is available to anyone and can be permanently lost.
     
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  6. rch

    rch TrainBoard Member

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    I have a map project that I work on when I'm in the hotel and have downtime or at home if I'm not building models. I keep that on Google Drive, but I download a local copy every time I work on it, so if I lost access to it online I'd still have it. I suppose you could do the same thing with Google Sheets.

    As far as the privacy aspect of this is concerned, it's not much of a secret how many locomotives I have or what decoders are installed in them. I don't store my social security number or banking info in these spreadsheets. If someone wants to take a look - and I've set up a couple friends as "view only" users - have at it.
     
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  7. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @rch maybe the information you post to google is not valuable to you, but they are in the business of information and will game it to make money in some way.

    Whether that happens through influencing purchases, or discerning purchase habits, or something else, rest assured that anything you post there, here, and everywhere else is put into your "profile folder" for later use. The better that information is connected across platforms, sites, domains, etc., and linked to you personally, the more valuable it becomes.
     
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  8. rch

    rch TrainBoard Member

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    You're not telling me anything I don't already know. The same is true of any "free" service on the internet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. You're not their customer, you are their product. An informed consumer should be aware of this by now.

    You have a valid point when it comes to information that must be or should be protected. But on a scale of "damaging private information" to "who cares?" the details of my model train collection are pretty innocuous. I suppose someone could geolocate my collection and attempt to abscond with it, but then it would become a problem for a certain Rottweiler who thinks I hung the moon.

    Otherwise, if Google wants to suggest better decoders for my locomotives or turn my attention to a new freight car model, I'm all ears. There's not much room for nefarious activity here where information about my collection can be weaponized against me.

     
  9. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    I did not even think about any physical access to personal items, more of a psychological profiling that goes around and is being sold to "interested" parties. You never know when something innocuous, such as model railroading, might be used against you. ;)
     
  10. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    I guess the days of someone writing an actual program for this are gone? All I know is I got most of my Atlas track organized in plastic sandwich type bags, and why I have so many 19" radius track pieces is beyond me? I know they come with my switches but I have ton's of these things ( for my tiny empire ), and with my new manual switches, maybe like 15-16 and seems like 30 19" radius pieces?

    There are so many options now a days, Open Office ( free ), Google, Excel, etc... Now I need to go and inventory my DC locomotives, and DCC ones, and I only have a few of each. Most DC does not run very well, except a few. Have to learn locomotive maintenance finally along with other things this year :)
     
  11. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    My only inventory is of rolling stock. I do keep "supplies" on hand related to supporting my layout.

    My inventory is pretty simple. Common file cards. I classify rolling stock by boxcar, coal hopper, flats, covered hopper, tank, refer, etc, etc. Each time I build a car or take a piece of rolling stock and tune it up, weather, ready for the layout, I fill out a card w/ railroad owner, road number, and classification. Then I write down model manufacturer, number. Then start listing modifications such as paint used, decals, weathering methods, kadee wheels, etc. Lastly, I put the date at the bottom of when I built it as well as when it was "finished" ready for service. Whenever I pull that car off the layout to fix or modify something, I put the modification and date down.

    Probably have 400 cars in that file box.
     
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  12. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    How does everyone deal with empty jewel cases of the cars/locos that you have on your layout.

    Let's assume excess of 100 cars and locos, do you sort them by car type, car length, manufacturer, or something else?

    My layout is far from done - have a temp main line down, and staging is finished, so I'm still wary of putting my cars and locos out into the staging because I might not be able to find their exact cases afterwards...
     
  13. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    My empty boxes are basically stored haphazardly in a spare closet (i.e. the one that came with my train room). The exception is loco boxes are off to one side, mainly because their sizes are quite different from say, a 40' reefer box. Better stacking. Then there are the "homeless" ones I bought used at train shows that weren't in a box (the reason why I always bring one of the local free newspapers along to wrap them). These boxless items I'm slowly getting into substitute boxes using discarded power supply packages from work that just happen to be just a smidge over an HO car width thick, plenty of height to handle a hi-cube boxcar, and long enough for a C630. My boss's garbage is my gold!

    But you did raise a point that I was more or less consciously trying to ignore :whistle: - how do I easily find back a box for a particular car?

    I think you just helped me put another item on my vacation to-do list.:)
     
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  14. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    I use plastic shoe boxes and a mid size plastic storage box.
     
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  15. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    I think it wouldn't be that much of an issue as most of the car boxes appear the same, until you look at the side and notice identifying marks, or how the cradles inside are customized to the car shape.

    Might not be a huge deal matching cars back to their boxes, but I always think that if something was to happen to me, at least I'd like my spouse to match these back together and sell them at a better value.
     
  16. Pastor John

    Pastor John TrainBoard Member

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    I am currently trying to match boxes (that were stored on cardboard boxes, totes, carry-alls, canvas bags, and all manner of other storage) from our father's collection (ie. N-scale empire). It took considerable work just to find all of the places that Dad stashed them, some were in the train room, others in a back corner of the basement, still others in the crawl-space, I think. There is no organizing system. There are, quite literally, thousands of these. My process of matching them is to randomly grab a box, read the label, and then wander the layout and try to find it. I can match several per hour. Completing this task is going to take a LONG time. I can assure you that any help that you can leave behind to your spouses, children, or heirs of any type will be greatly appreciated.
     
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  17. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    My family probably wouldn't have an issue doing it if I left. They would mostly just call a disposal company after they grab a few none train stuff.
     
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  18. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    The hard part is follow through.
    I will be doing some sort of something as I 'de-accumulate' my stuff.
    I'll start with
    'Keep' / 'Sell' / 'Give'.
    Brand / Type of Car / Condition
     
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  19. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    How do you figure out rating of the condition of your items though - it's a pretty subjective thing, especally for items you own?

    I wrote a web based system for tracking locomotives and rolling stock (you can see screens on the page 1) but did not consider adding Condition or Status (keep/sell/give away).

    Originally I started it so I could track my own items so they could be easily exported to JMRI, but the scope of the project grew...(creep? :) )
     
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  20. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    To those I intend to sell I will do my very best to be extremely honest and to provide a video of their performance
     
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