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FirePick Delta, the Open Source MicroFactory

An affordable electronics manufacturing system for hobbyists, students, & small businesses. Inspired by RepRap. Powered by OpenPnP/FirePick.

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FirePick Delta is an open-source electronics manufacturing system, inspired by RepRap and powered by OpenPnP and FirePick's own Computer Vision software. We are taking the beginning steps towards a smart appliance that can manufacture electronic circuit boards in a home or office environment. Our machine is able to assemble open-source hardware boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi accessories, and also has the capability to 3D print. It features an auto-tool changer that allows multiple plastic extruders, and/or multiple SMT vacuum nozzles. Other tools and applications will be available as our product matures.

We will be launching a Kickstarter campaign once we have a working prototype.

Introduction

FirePick Delta is an affordable, open-source electronics manufacturing system that sits on your desktop. It's capable of building complex electronic circuit assemblies, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi accessories. It is also able to 3D print plastic parts, just like a standard 3D printer. It assembles circuit boards just like a conventional pick-and-place machine, by using a vacuum nozzle and camera with computer vision to pick up surface-mount parts from component feeders, and precisely place them down on the circuit board. Our machine has an auto-tool changer, and we're working on designing other tools besides the SMT vacuum tip and the 3D print hotend. The system is capable of holding up to four tools and interchanging between them automatically. This also makes it one of the most versatile 3D printers out there, because it can print in four colors of plastic (or in four separate types of plastic, which would allow a single model to have a mixture of PLA, ABS, nylon, and NinjaFlex, for example). 

Pick and place machines are used around the world to assemble electronic circuit assemblies, however they usually sell for $50,000 to $500,000. Our machine has a price point of $300 to $5000, depending on modules installed. We should be able to hit that price point by leveraging the open-source technology of the RepRap 3D printer movement. The FirePick Delta is designed to almost completely self-replicate. It is capable of 3d printing its own parts out of PLA or ESD-sensitive ABS plastic. It will also be capable of assembling its own electronic circuit boards. We plan to be the first successful, commercially available RepRap 3d printer to have the power of electronics self-replication. We envision a future where anyone can design (or download existing) electronic projects, and manufacture them in their own home, rather than outsourcing to a traditional factory. This approach saves time and money, and is a much more sustainable solution. FirePick Delta will enable a new wave of small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide unique, bespoke, niche items to the general public, that would be unprofitable for a large conglomerate corporation to manufacture. If you've ever had an electronic project that involved soldering surface-mount electronics, this machine is an incredibly cheap and fun way to do it. If you've ever wanted to sell an electronic board that you've created, and need a way to make lots of them, this machine is for you.

Important Documents and Links

Bill of Materials

Note: Our BOM will eventually be in our custom FireBOM system, but we’re still in the process of getting that populated (Note: the official hackaday.io “Components” page links there). We have written some clever python scripts to get this data transferred over to the new system, but in the meantime, it’s spread across a few sources:

Project Logs and Other Hackaday.io Pages:

Videos

NOTE: The Hackaday.io CMS is kind of wonky at the moment), use the links below if the Youtube previews aren't showing up...

HaD Video #1 (Quarterfinals, July 20, 2014):

HaD Video #2 (Semifinals, September 28, 2014):

Youtube Playlist for other FirePick Delta related videos :-)

Features / Specs

Intended Usage:

  • Prototyping and small runs of PCB’s (under 100 per run). Not intended to be used for mass production....
Read more »

View all 16 components

  • We're No Longer the $300 Pick and Place / 3D Printer

    Neil Jansen03/13/2015 at 02:46 6 comments

    There's been a lot of cool stuff going on in our project, even though I haven't updated this Hackaday.io page a much in the last six months or so. Here' s a quick summary:

    DEC. 2014 - COMPANY LAUNCHED

    Established in December 2014, I started Tin Whiskers Technology, LLC in order to provide a platform to sell kits and finished units to various people around the world. I realized early on that my business skills were lacking, so I brought on Felix Banuchi as a co-founder. Between his MBA and startup experience, and my technical leadership, we're hoping that we can avoid the common pitfalls that open-source companies have made recently (some bad for the community, like Makerbot going closed source, and some bad for the companies like Arduino LLC vs. Arduino SRL)

    The name Tin Whiskers is sort of a dual-meaning. Most veteran electrical engineers and other folks in the world of electronics manufacturing know about tin whisker growth all too well. It's the metallurgical phenomenon where little metallic tendrils seem to grow out of a flat metallic surface. This problem has worsened since the switch to lead-free solders and other repercussions of RoHS. On the other hand, tin whiskers also means something to the lay person, it brings up images of cats, hipster beards, and robots... Which seems very fitting for such a cool company.

    MARCH 2015 - PRE-ORDER KITS GO ON SALE

    This week, we've begun selling pre-orders to our initial group of beta testers. We're doing 50 units for the first run, followed by possibly more after that. The idea is to get hardware in the hands of as many developers as we can, so that we can get immediate feedback on a common hardware platform. This is much better than a DIY approach where everyone ends up with different machines. Obviously, hardware incompatibilities, lighting conditions, feeder types, machine accuracy and precision, differences between DIY machines vary greatly... And that added complexity makes software development a real nightmare.. that is, unless we can get identical kits in the hands of our testers. We set out to do that in late December, and now in March, a few months later, we're to that point, albeit a few months behind where we wanted to be.

    PRICING ISN'T $300, BUT IT'S STILL CHEAP COMPARED TO EVERYTHING ELSE

    In order to make this happen, we've had to do a lot of parts sourcing, cost estimation, BOM analysis, design-for-manufacturing changes, etc. I quickly realized that my original estimate of $300 was off by quite a bit. Those that have been following this project for a while, remember that this project was initially titled "the $300 Pick and Place / 3D printer". I REALLY did want to make a machine this cheap, and that number was based on what I wanted the final price to be.. Our BOM cost has hovered from $300-700 depending on options... I figured that assuming I got some wholesale accounts, and get some sourcing lined up, that I could get the price down to 1/2 of that, sell for a bit of a markup, and still meet the $300 goal. Well, after Felix joined the team, I quickly realized that's not the way things work. Once our company was formed and we actually tried to secure these wholesale and vendor accounts, we've not gotten a single 50% price break. That simply won't happen unless we're selling 5000+ units. That might actually happen someday, if I get my wish. We also have to make enough markup as to not go out of business quickly. We're not getting rich by any means -- We'd get better markups manufacturing women's perfume or costume jewelry... Or social media web-apps, e.g. the next AirBnb or Instagram.. Hardware companies are very capital intensive, ours is no different. We've got a lot of money tied up in this, with not much to show for it at this point, other than a lot of hope, and some excited and eager beta testers.

    In the meantime, FirePick Delta will not cost $300. I take full responsibility...

    Read more »

  • Beta Test Kits, Coming to a Hacker Near You...

    Neil Jansen03/01/2015 at 03:01 0 comments

  • ESD Mitigation Strategy

    Neil Jansen09/28/2014 at 22:40 0 comments

    Electro-static discharge is a big deal when you're working with modern SMT parts. Doubly so when you're dealing wiht SMT component feeders. Things moving around generate a charge, and these charges can even levitate parts right out of the carrier tape.

    We have a two part approach for mitigating ESD:

    Conductive Coating for all Acrylic and Anodized Surfaces

    In the USA, the best source is TechSpray Licron, available from Mouser.  Other countries have this listed under different names.

    ESD-Safe Conductive ABS 3D Printer Filament

    Part two of our approach is to use ABS plastic 3D printer filament, that is conductive, by impregnating it with carbon nanotubes :D  

    We source our filament from 3DXTech, which can also be bought from PushPlastic, where I buy the rest of my normal PLA filament.

    You can buy the ESD-safe filament here:

    3DXTech 3DXNano product page

    3DXTech 3DXNano Filament MSDS Sheet

  • SMT Component Feeders

    Neil Jansen09/28/2014 at 22:32 4 comments

    This is a stub... Stay tuned, hopefully I'll have this done before the deadline!

    Modular Feeder System

    Everything on our system is modular, including the feeders.  Rather than having individual blade-style feeders (which are extremely handy, but complicated to pull of on a small scale), we decided on a 60mm base size, that can hold a certain number of tapes / tubes, depending on the component size(s).

    4x 8mm feeders:

    3x 12mm feeders:

    1x 16 and 1x 24mm feeder:

    1x 32mm feeder:

    1x 44mm feeder:

    Not to mention, any size of weird tube, like for a custom choke or coil, or any other weird specialized stuff, new types of feeders can be created, and added to this system with just a basic amount of CAD work and 3D printing.  

    ESD Mitigation

    If you haven't seen our post about ESD Mitigation, please read it here: 

    http://hackaday.io/project/963/log/10095-esd-mitigation-strategy

    Modular Feeder Holder

    All of our modular feeders go into a 3D printed feeder holder, that attaches to the aluminum extrusion rails with an M5 x 8mm button-head cap screw: 

    The curved bit gently guides tape out the bottom of the machine:

    Tape Feeders

    We assume that for home and prototyping use, that most people will not have dozens and dozens of spools laying around.  They're really expensive and not needed for general prototyping.  So we will assume that most people will be loading in cut tape strip pieces.  And there's no reason to bring in the complexity of a full-auto tape feeder if you're just dealing with cut tape strips.

    HOWEVER, it is exremely likely that many home users may have one or two large reels for those jobs where you're laying down tons of LEDs or 0.1uf capacitors, or whatever.  So right now our system has two full-auto tape feeders, so that the system is less tied to using the drag-pin feed.

    Tape Feeder (drag pin feed)

    Tape Feeder (full auto)

    Tape Feeder (strip lanes)

    (pics will be up, check back soon!)

    Tube Feeders

    We plan on supporting these in the very near future.  We just wanted to concentrate on the tape feeders first. :-)

    Tray Feeders

    We don't support JEDEC trays, because they're so big, but sometimes it's still nice to be able to pick up some random parts that either don't have carrier tape, or are on a small piece of cut tape that would be impractical to load in a normal feeder. So, we support little trays that allow you to load in a few parts at a time.  OpenPnP already has some pretty neat logic that knows how to get to the center of a part, based on the tray dimensions, and the part's dimensions.

  • FirePick Delta System Design Document and Youtube Video

    Neil Jansen08/19/2014 at 05:09 0 comments

    Here's our Introductory Youtube video for the Hackaday Contest, Stage 1 & 2, as per the Official Rules:

    Here's our System-Level diagram (still a work in progress):

    Admittedly the system diagram is very busy, but it does accurately reflect our desired system configuration.  I will try to explain the various parts of the diagram and how they work together. 

    Read more »

  • Camera and Computer Vision

    Neil Jansen07/13/2014 at 14:17 1 comment

    In this post, I'll explain the importance of Computer Vision and how we plan to accomplish this. I'll also cover the state of our computer vision system and where we're going from here. 

    In the picture above, you can see a Raspberry Pi camera, looking at itself in a mirror, in order to see the nozzle, and and parts that might be hanging around there.  We can use computer vision to calculate and adjust the part offset and rotation, to make up for the fact that it's impossible for us to pick a part from a component feeder with enough precision.  We can also use computer vision to calculate the offset of the nozzle to the camera, not only at zero degrees rotation of the nozzle, but also for other rotations, which means we can calibrate out the wobble of the cheap Luer lock syringe tip that we use.  The mirror technique has some challenges though, so we will be offering a traditional upward-looking vision system, via a second camera, in the weeks/months to come.

    Read more »

  • 6/29/2014-Present - FirePick Delta Failblog and Wins

    Neil Jansen07/07/2014 at 05:23 7 comments

    This entry will serve as an omnibus collection of fails, and wins, at the system level.  I'd rather keep them together, instead of having dozens of tiny updates, each with their own entry. 

    As of July 8 2014, we are successfully picking and placing SMT components with the FirePick Delta prototype.  This is a huge accomplishment in itself, but we've really just started.  Although FPD has a 5MP camera mounted to the end effector, and a full suite of custom computer vision functions ready to go, we've still got some integration to do before we can use it at a system-level, for drag-pin feeder advancement, up-looking vision, and fiducial recognition.  It's a minor amount of work, but everything takes time.  For today, we're just trying to make sure that we've got all the various parts of the system online and working together.  You have to crawl before you can walk, as they say.

    Read more »

  • 6/15/2014 - Delta mechanism simulation and accuracy determination

    Neil Jansen06/14/2014 at 14:42 10 comments

    In our previous post, we explained what a delta mechanism is, and why we decided to use it for this project.

    This post will hopefully shed some light on how we came up with the arm lengths, ratios, and other parameters that determine how accurate and fast it can be.  There's quite a few examples of delta robots out there, and even a few pages with the necessary math to calculate position.  But there's not really a lot of "why" out there, or a reasoning behind the chosen geometries and ratios were chosen.  I'm not a math guru, but I will attempt to explain why I chose my design as I did.

    Read more »

  • Delta mechanism design and Frame construction

    Neil Jansen06/07/2014 at 16:47 2 comments

    This post will give the reasonings behind the frame and the delta mechanism design.  We're using a pretty unique design, in fact I'm not aware of any successful pick and place machines that use a delta mechanism.  We'll explain why we went against conventional wisdom and chose the delta mechanism.  We'll also explain what the heck a delta mechanism is for the more casual readers.

    Here's what your 'status-quo' SMT pick and place looks like, with  Hackaday judge LadyAda for size comparison:

    Read more »

  • FirePick Delta - Introduction and Overview

    Neil Jansen05/05/2014 at 03:57 1 comment

    Welcome to the first installment of the $300 Pick and Place Hackday.io project build log.  This is the first of many build log entries that we will be posting over the next few months.

    The official name of this project is FirePick Delta.  We felt that the name "$300 Pick and Place" would be a better name for our Hackaday Projects page, since it better conveys to the world what our project is truly about.  Nobody knows what a FirePick Delta is (yet), but most of the regulars at Hackday know what a $300 Pick and Place machine is.  If not, don't worry.  We've got a section below just for you :)


    Introduction in Plain English

    We are developing a really cool robotic machine that is capable of assembling electronic circuit boards (it also 3D prints, and does some other stuff!).  It uses a vacuum nozzle to pick really tiny resistors and computer chips up, and place them down very carefully on a printed circuit board.  A lot of the parts are really tiny (sometimes only 0.6 mm x 0.3mm).  Sometimes they are really big, but the adjacent pins are so close together that the risk of two pins shorting out makes assembly difficult.  Our design uses a tiny digital camera board and custom computer vision software to ensure that the parts are being placed correctly.  Computer vision is really hard.  Especially if you're not a math major.

    There are existing machines that do this today, but they cost a LOT of money.  They range from $30,000 on the cheap end, to several hundred thousand dollars.  Large businesses are more than willing to pay these prices, because they produce millions of boards per year.  But what about the small business?  What about the the would-be tech startup?  What about the hobbyists, the college EE undergrads, hardware hackers, and makers?  It's pretty depressing actually.  Most resort to soldering every tiny component by hand (under a microscope if they're lucky enough to have access to one).  A few hobbyists and hackers went off and tried to make their own machine and failed miserably.  It's an incredibly complicated project by standards, so this wasn't surprising.


    The Holy Grail

    We are chasing the holy grail of rapid prototyping and electronics manufacturing.  Here are a few examples of the benefits that our project would provide:

    Design phase:

    • Electronics prototyping: Those dreadful breadboards, breakout boards, and Arduino shields can finally go away. Instead, work can begin on the first pcb prototype immediately, which reduces turnaround time. This doesn't work in all cases, but is a nice option to have.
    • Crowdsourced Parts Libraries: We will eventually aim to have a very conclusive library of parts for common EDA tools like EAGLE, KiCad, and Altium.  By crowdourcing the library parts out, and using a ranking and verification system to ensure their completeness and accuracy, the burden to the designer will be reduced tremendously.  This is a huge undertaking, but if our project reaches critical mass, it becomes within reach.
    • 3D printing of enclosures, fixtures, and replacement SMT machine parts.  This machine is capable of replicating its own plastic parts, including ESD-safe feeders and SMT nozzles.

    Manufacturing phase:

    • Quality control can be improved if the boards are being made locally, instead of in another continent.  Problems can be caught earlier.  In many cases, this will actually be much cheaper than outsourcing.
    • Intellectual property concerns: We're all about open source, but sometimes you don't want one of your boards outsourced to a sketchy manufacturer.  By making the boards locally, all of these concerns can be alleviated.
    • Small tech startups: Small companies and tech startups can buy a cheap $300 machine instead of taking out loans or giving up equity to buy a machine that costs 100-200 times that.
    • Just-In-Time Production...
    Read more »

View all 10 project logs

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Discussions

Boz wrote 07/15/2014 at 00:01 point
Awesome! Gets my vote if it works

Especially love the idea of a optional solder paste dispenser to complete the package.

Doing solder paste by hand is messy and time consuming and requires a real steady hand, and having a good template made is so expensive.

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Minimum Effective Dose wrote 07/15/2014 at 02:18 point
The first time I paid for a steel solder stencil was also the last time. Rough-cut edges, and the "solder paste squeegee" included in the $20 accessory add-on was a scrap piece of steel with tape on the sharp edges. F that.

Now I laser cut them out of Mylar (which is a trade name of DuPont, look for "Dura-lar" at art supply / drafting supply stores.) Much faster, and literally 200 times cheaper.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Pixel Pirate wrote 07/13/2014 at 06:21 point
So... can it place BGA packages? *shifts eyes left and right*

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 07/13/2014 at 15:06 point
Yes, we are designing it in such a way that it should be able to place BGA packages, and have computer vision to make up for various tolerances in placement and rotation. But we're still verifying how accurate we can actually place. We'll be ordering a few BGA test kits from Topline, that include dummy BGA's and PCB's that are wired in daisy-chain pattern through each pin. That will let us know if we can do it consistently, without breaking the bank buying expensive BGA's and writing verification tests.

  Are you sure? yes | no

D1plo1d wrote 07/04/2014 at 00:00 point
Greetings from RetroPopulator, the new team on the open source pick and place block!

Check it out, our RetroPopulator's already done it's first successful pick and place demonstration: http://hackaday.io/project/1605/log/4353-retro-populator-in-action

*And* that was all done from a .brd file automatically parsed by our PopCAM software!

Ok, so it's time for some friendly competition. The ball's in your court now and all that. Can't wait to see your demo! :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Juha Kuusama wrote 07/04/2014 at 17:15 point
Greetings from LitePlacer, the third pick and place project in the competition, too! My project is at http://hackaday.io/project/1755-LitePlacer---a-low-cost-Pick-and-Place-machine

May the best picker-placer win!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 07/05/2014 at 22:40 point
Great, we love competition! Don't get too comfortable, although we've been quiet the last few weeks, we've got some really cool stuff in store. We've got working vision, AND rotation! Not to mention a bunch of other cool stuff.

Btw, the only thing we love more than competition is collaboration! Don'tn be afraid to get in contact with us if you would like to work towards standard feeders or vision software, or anything else.

  Are you sure? yes | no

D1plo1d wrote 07/10/2014 at 03:19 point
For sure! We've got a lot of basic testing left to do but I think once we've got reliability and setup sorted out a bit more we should start looking at how the two projects can cross-pollinate.

PS. Check it out, we just pick and placed 2 boards in one run at full speed: http://hackaday.io/project/1605/log/4715

  Are you sure? yes | no

Blecky wrote 07/13/2014 at 15:06 point
Cheeky :P
Keep it up guys, a little feather ruffling makes for an interesting competition.

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Krinkleneck wrote 07/01/2014 at 06:12 point
Call me crazy, but if the designs are mainly 1 sided pcbs then you could make it have a heated bed. That way you can place and solder in one machine maybe? Or, you could have the machine move the boards directly into an oven to reflow. You could connect boards to a conveyor system that starts with blank pcbs, they go under a roller with the pcb pattern, through a slow etching bath, through a preset robotic QC for connectors, into a tinning solution, under a soldermask roller, under a masked uv source, cleaned, More QC to make sure the connectors aren't covered, through a pasting station, in and out of the placement, through an oven, colling station and one final qc to make sure everything is connected.

  Are you sure? yes | no

zakqwy wrote 06/27/2014 at 15:58 point
Hi Neil,

I'd love to look through your CAD model in detail. What are your thoughts on putting all project files on a shared repo for folks to freely download and open? It seems like you've put a lot of time in to designing the linkages (amongst other parts) and I think we could all learn a lot (especially those of us that are new to kinematics).

Thanks!
Zach

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/27/2014 at 23:16 point
My apologies for not having the 3D CAD files up by now. There are a few things we're working on to get them posted. #1 we're moving some of our repositories around to be a little more self-explanatory and easier to maintain. We've created a github 'org' and we are in the process of forking to the firepick org and deleting the old ones under Karl's firepick1 account. #2 we are trying to finish documentation and part numbering so that people know what they're building, and how many parts to print. #3, I'm putting under a yet-to-be-created Open Source license that I'll explain soon. Hope that's understandable. We have five teammates now, working full-time to get all of this stuff done. They should be posted very soon, I will let everyone know when they go live.

  Are you sure? yes | no

TTN wrote 06/21/2014 at 01:31 point
Requesting 3d files for the printable delta section :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/21/2014 at 20:13 point
Hi, we'll have the files posted soon... We're trying to catch up on documentation and other stuff. I'll make a post when we have files available to download. Thanks for the interest!

  Are you sure? yes | no

TTN wrote 06/21/2014 at 00:03 point
I'm interested in building a reprap with the delta setup you currently have. How suitable do you think this design is in this respect? Have you tried printing with it and how is the accuracy and speed?

  Are you sure? yes | no

TTN wrote 06/21/2014 at 01:32 point
I did a bit more reading and it looks suitable to me.. see my new comment above :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Kiltjim wrote 06/20/2014 at 17:10 point
I've got something like 10 years in manufacturing on pick and place equipment, electronics, and coding (probably not much help here), but if I can lend a hand, I would certainly love to see this become a reality.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Eric Evenchick wrote 06/16/2014 at 18:17 point
There's devices out there to print PCBs at home, but assembly is the really painful part at this point. Really looking forward to seeing this device progress, and glad that you've set some ambitious goals for the component sizes.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Łukasz Przeniosło wrote 06/12/2014 at 21:14 point
Hi there i am really impressed by the work youve done. I work in a company that creates small factor pick and place machines. I am in RND departament taking care of the low level programming and hardware. I would surelly like to contribute to your work, it has hudge potencial.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josheeg wrote 06/07/2014 at 11:45 point
I am interested in trying your computer vision setup what components of this design can be bought and tested for it? Rasbery Pi and Pi camera?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/07/2014 at 15:44 point
Yep, just a Raspberry Pi, the camera, and the FirePick1/Firesight github repository linked above (the documentation is in the github wiki).

  Are you sure? yes | no

dumi.gumede1 wrote 06/07/2014 at 08:15 point
Printer*

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dumi.gumede1 wrote 06/07/2014 at 08:14 point
Doesn't the project has to be innovative ? Anyone can get a 3d ptriinter

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/07/2014 at 15:47 point
You're right. Anyone can get a 3d ptriinter. We must not be innovative.

  Are you sure? yes | no

willyboi111 wrote 06/15/2014 at 03:33 point
Please don't hate!! Also this is not a 3d printer! Very well documented and the Innovation IS THERE!!!!!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mike Szczys wrote 06/06/2014 at 23:06 point
You have an amazing jump on documenting your work. I'm so glad you entered it in The Hackaday Prize.

Keep doing what you're doing!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/07/2014 at 15:41 point
Thanks :) I've just begun the documentation process.. There's so much stuff that I still need to post. Thank you guys for creating a reward system that motivates hackers to document the stuff they build.

  Are you sure? yes | no

egoodchild wrote 06/06/2014 at 18:02 point
Hey awesome project. I noticed that you guys are looking for help on this project. I would like to help you guys make it a reality in any way I can, I to would like to see a sub $500 pick and place on the market that is easy to use.

I have a full electronics lab at my disposal at my house, with all of your standard lab equipment scope, sig gens, soldering, reflow. I will also soon have an 80W laser cutter, once I finish building it. I also have access to mills, high dollar 3D printers, epilog laser cutter and CNC mills.

I’m very adept at multilayer high speed and high power PCB layout, FPGAs, MCU, and other embedded hardware/software design.

Keep up the great work!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/07/2014 at 15:42 point
Thanks for reaching out, could you send an email to njansen1 at gmail.com? We're always looking for dedicated people to help.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mattf wrote 06/05/2014 at 18:28 point
Very cool project. Maybe it is worth considering using a beagle bone black in place of the RPi? The BBB already can run linuxcnc, and has some realtime support so you could maybe remove the need for the arduino in the system. Also, I believe the BBB's processor is more powerful than the RPi, which may come in handy for openCV processing. Just a thought.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/06/2014 at 03:01 point
We like the BBB a lot, and plan to support it (and other Linux SBC's) in the future. The three main reasons we're using the Raspberry Pi right now is 1) price, 2) availability, and 3) the camera is just amazing when unscrewed to macro focus. it's the perfect size and we have lots of manual control of exposure and other settings that other USB cams don't offer. Once we get over these hurdles, there will definitely be support for the BeagleBoneBlack in the future.

  Are you sure? yes | no

rudiahlers wrote 06/05/2014 at 06:51 point
I would like to get involved in this project as well, but I am in South Africa. My skills include Arduino, solderings, some coding, and plenty hardware hacking!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/05/2014 at 12:44 point
Cool! Send me an email at njansen1 at gmail.com, and we'll talk there.

  Are you sure? yes | no

PointyOintment wrote 06/05/2014 at 03:55 point
A year or two ago I saw a DIY feeder that used just a razorblade to separate the tape, and it seemed to work pretty well.

For motorized tape removal, why do you need a stepper motor? Wouldn't a DC motor with a torque limiter of some kind (slip clutch, or just insufficient power available) work fine?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neil Jansen wrote 06/05/2014 at 04:07 point
Yes, a DC motor with torque limiter, either mechanical or electrical, would work great. We went with one specific approach for our prototype, which is a single stepper motor that drives up to twelve cover tapes, where each tape spool contains a clutch (actually a set screw with a nylon tip). This allows you to simply add another feeder, when you put it in the slot, it will automatically engage the drive shaft from the previous feeder. The stepper motor easily moves the shaft a fixed number of steps, regardless of whether there's one cover tape being used, or twelve (a DC motor's turns would vary with load and voltage). We feel that this is a pragmatic way to make a flexible system on the cheap. Estimated cost of 12 8mm tape slots (3 feeders) and the stepper motor drive is only about $25 to 40. That gives a total of 48 feeders per system for around $130.

  Are you sure? yes | no

KingOfKYA(Travis K. ) wrote 06/05/2014 at 00:45 point
I will be watching this project:)
Hope you get it working

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Christian Lerche wrote 05/26/2014 at 19:09 point
Neil, you state you need help. I am rather good with KiCAD and I am an expert in soldering tiny stuff (really, I do 0201 in hand), and I am overly interested in making my own pick and place machine, so why not help out? I do however live in Denmark, long from you, so maybe I can do something from here? Regards, Lerche

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Neil Jansen wrote 05/27/2014 at 02:59 point
Sure! We've got quite a lot of stuff to work on, and would love to have your help. Send me an email at njansen1 at gmail.com.

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