THP Hacker Bio: Neil Jansen

neil

If we were running a contest to give away a trip to space for building the most innovative open hardware project a few years ago, the winner would inevitably be a 3D printer. Times have changed, 3D printing is reaching the limits of what can be done with simple plastic extrusion, and there are new hardware challenges to be conquered. One of the challenges facing hardware designers is the ability to create and assemble electronic circuits quickly. For that, there are a few pick and place machines being developed, the lowest cost being the FirePick Delta. It sells itself as a $300 pick and place machine borrowing heavily from the RepRap project, enabling tinkerers and engineers to assemble PCBs quickly.

[Neil Jansen] is the project lead for the FirePick Delta, and along with team members ranging from software developers in the bay area, to electronics technicians and high school students, they’ve created what will become the lowest cost and most capable pick and place machine available. Already the machine has tape feeders, tray feeders, a vision system, and modules to dispense solder paste. It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and were it not for some damage in shipping, we would have a video of [Neil] demoing the FirePick at Maker Faire NY.

In lieu of that, we do have a bio on [Neil] and what challenges he’s faced in building the FirePick. You can read that below, or check out their second demo video for The Hackaday Prize:

[Read more...]

Pick and Place Machines at Maker Faire

A few years ago, every booth at a Maker Faire had a 3D printer. It didn’t matter if 3D printing was only tangental to the business, or even if the printer worked. 3D printers have finally jumped the shark, and there’s going to be an awesome t-shirt to reflect this fact. This year there weren’t many 3D printers, leaving us asking ourselves what the new hotness is.

Pick and place machines. We couldn’t find many at the faire, and only Carbide Labs’ Pick and Paste machine was working on picking up small resistors and LEDs the entire faire. Carbide’s Pick and Paste machine is exactly what you would expect in a pick and place machine: it picks up components out of tapes and wells, orients them correctly, and plops them down on a board.

The killer feature for the Pick and Paste is its modular design. The toolhead is expandable, allowing anyone to add a second vacuum nozzle to double the rate parts are placed, or a solder paste dispenser. The guys didn’t have the paste dispenser working for the fair (leaded solder and kids don’t mix), but this machine is effectively a combination pick and place machine and solder paste dispenser, something that’s usually two machines on an assembly line.

Also at the faire was Tempo Automation. They’re in a pseudo-stealth mode right now, waiting until everything works perfectly until bringing their machine to the masses. It is, however, exceptionally fast and about a third of the price of a similar machine.

The only other pick and place machine at the faire was the Firepick Delta, one of the more popular projects on hackaday.io and one of fifty finalists for the Hackaday Prize. Unfortunately, the FirePick Delta was broken in shipping, and although [Neil] was sitting right next to the 3D printing guys, it would have taken all weekend to repair the machine.

THP Semifinalist: Retro Populator, A Pick And Place Retrofit For A 3D Printer

retro

A huge theme of The Hackaday Prize entries is making assembly of electronics projects easier. This has come in the form of soldering robots, and of course pick and place machines. One of the best we’ve seen is the Retro Populator, a project by [Eric], [Charles], [Adam], and [Rob], members of the Toronto Hacklab. It’s a machine that places electronic components on a PCB with the help of a 3D printer

The Retro Populator consists of two major parts: the toolhead consists of a needle and vacuum pump for picking up those tiny surface mount parts. This is attaches to a quick mount bolted right to the extruder of a 3D printer. The fixture board attaches to the bed of a 3D printer and includes tape rails, cam locks, and locking arms for holding parts and boards down firmly.

The current version of the Retro Populator, with its acrylic base and vacuum pen, is starting to work well. The future plans include tape feeders, a ‘position confirm’ ability, and eventually part rotation. It’s a very cool device, and the ability to produce a few dozen prototypes in an hour would be a boon for hackerspaces the world over.

You can check out a few videos of the Retro Populator below.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize. 

[Read more...]

Hacklet #4 — PCB Tools and Wristwatches

4

The Hackaday Prize is heating up! When we set up the prize, we expected to see some incredible entries, and you guys haven’t let us down. Projects like SatNOGS, which aims to create a global network of satellite ground stations, or OpenMV, a low-cost Python powered vision module, are seriously blowing us away.

We’re starting to give away some prizes through community voting and there’s still plenty of time for you to enter. Check out The Hackaday Prize page for the full details.

Low Cost Printed Circuit Board Tools

Pick and Place

We’ve seen mills, lathes, CNC machines and 3D printers, but if there is any device that gets a hardware hacker’s attention, it’s a pick and place machine. In the PCB industry these machines pick up thousands of parts every hour, perfectly placing them on printed circuit boards. The downside is they’re incredibly expensive. The cheapest Chinese machines without vision start in the $4000 USD price range.

[Neil] aims to break down those price barriers with a $300 Pick and Place Machine that doubles as a 3D printer. He’s using delta 3D printer hardware to do it, and he’s throwing in everything! OpenCV based vision, multiple tool heads, reel and tray pick up, [Neil] has covered all the major points. He can’t do it alone though, so he’s looking for help. Check it out, and give him a hand (or a skull)!
pcbMill

A low-cost pick and place machine will need printed circuit boards to work on. Not to worry, [shlonkin] has you covered with his PCB mill for under $10. Built from recycled printers, an Arduino, and host software written in processing, [shlonkin] has already posted impressive photos of boards his machine has milled. The main problem [shlonkin] has run into is longevity with plastic parts. In his most recent update, he’s looking for ideas. Can you help him?

Digital Watches

Anyone will tell you that digital watches are a pretty neat idea. With the era of smartwatches upon us, more than one hacker has delved into building their own timepiece. We’re happy to report that most of them even tell time.

walltech[Walltech] has gone all out to create the ultimate watch. His OLED Smart Watch 6.0 is the culmination of years of work. The watch features a 1.5” OLED display, an SD card slot, and a vibrator motor. It has Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to the world, and an Atmel ATmega32u4 as its brain. A 500mAh battery will power the watch for 18-24 hours per charge.

[Walltech] plans to make it do everything from SMS and email notifications to music streaming. Don’t see a feature you want? Add it! Smart Watch 6.0 Is completely open source, so you can hop into the code and hack away!

tilttouchtime2On the other side of the spectrum is [askoog89’s] Tilt Touch Time, which utilizes  those awesome bubble LED displays some of us remember from the 70’s. The retro look is only 3D printed skin deep though, as [askoog89] is using an ATtiny2313 processor. Atmel’s Qtouch is providing the capacitive touch sensing, while a tilt sensor helps Tilt Touch Time live up to its name. [Askoog89] has submitted his watch to The Hackaday Prize, so he’s trying to figure out a way to use the touch sensor to sync time with a PC. If that doesn’t work out, we bet those bubble LEDs would make great light sensors for some monitor-blink-sync action.

Fallout fans have seen plenty of PIP boys here on Hackaday, but have you seen [jara's] PIP Watch? This Personal Information Panel is going big on size but low on power with a 3 inch e-ink display. [Jara] is using an STM32F101 ARM Cortex-M3 CPU, so he’s got plenty of processing power at his disposal. He’s connecting to the world through a Bluetooth serial link. All he needs is a Geiger counter, and he’s good to go!

pipWatch

That’s it for this week’s Hacklet, stay tuned for next week when we bring you more of what’s happening at Hackaday.io!

3D Printed Trays for your Pick and Place Machine

3dprintedPNPTray Pick and Place machines are one of the double-edged swords of electronics.They build your boards fast, but if you don’t have everything setup perfectly, they’ll quickly make a mess. A pick and place can’t grab a resistor from a pile and place it – so far only humans can pull that one off. They need parts organized and oriented in reels or trays.

[Parker Dillmann] had to load some parts, but didn’t have a tray for them, so he 3D printed his own. [Parker] works at a small assembly house in Texas. He’s working on a top secret design which includes FFC connectors. Unfortunately, the connectors shipped in pick and place unfriendly tubes rather than reels. If he couldn’t find a tray, [Parker] would have to hand place those connectors as a second operation, which would increase the time to build each board and leave more chances for mistakes.

Rather than place each part by hand, [Parker] got in touch with his friend [Chris Kraft] who is something of a 3D printing guru. [Chris] confirmed that a 3D printed tray would be possible, though the PLA he prints with was not static safe. That was fine for the connectors, but [Parker] was hoping to save some tray space by putting his PSOC4 chips in the printed tray as well.

[Parker] used SketchUp to design a tray that would fit his Madell DP2006-2 pick and place. He left .15mm clearance around the parts – just enough to cover any inaccuracies during printing, but not enough to throw off parts placement. He sent the STL file over to [Chris] who used Simplify3D to a create a Gcode file. [Chris] printed the tray at .2 mm layer height on his MakerGear M2 printer, and the results looked great. Would they be good enough for the pick and place machine?

[Parker] received the printed trays in the mail and loaded them with parts. The pick and place had no problem finding and placing the connectors, making this job a huge success. [Parker] even left room for the PSOC4 chips.He plans to paint the tray with anti-static paint before giving them at try.

We really like this story – it’s a perfect example of how 3D printers can speed up processes in manufacturing. Now that the basic design is done, creating new trays is a snap. Nice work [Parker] and [Chris]! [Read more...]

THP Entry: A $300 Pick & Place 3D Printer

pnp

With the advent of cheap PCB fabrication, (relatively) easy to use layout tools, and a whole host of prototypes for nearly any device imaginable, the age of custom circuits is upon us. The tools to make these custom circuits, though, are usually hilariously expensive or simply unavailable to all but the most resourceful hackerspace. It would be great if every workshop in the country had a pick and place machine, and the $300 Pick and Place / 3D printer would be a great way to introduce this tech to millions of electronic tinkerers around the world. It also makes for a great entry to The Hackaday Prize.

The basic design of this machine is a delta bot. This is a wonderful choice over a Cartesian bot; deltas are faster and can have higher acceleration, a great thing to have if you want to throw together a few boards quickly. Although the configuration looks a little inverted as compared to other 3D printer delta bots, there’s a reason for this: the design was simulated with evolutionary algorithms and statistical tests to find the best geometry for the machine. The completed machine should be able to place 0201 components; anything smaller would be called dust.

The software hits all the marks, using OpenCV for image processing, ARM boards for motor control and computational tasks, and a good bit of mechanical and pneumatic work to suck up the parts. They’re even working on a 3D printed tape feeders. Now a component often overlooked when looking at the total cost of pick and place equipment is essentially free.

It’s awesome work, and even if they don’t win The Hackaday Prize, it’s still something every hackerspace should have. Now if someone would only crack the through-hole plating problem…


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

Humble Beginnings of a Pick and Place Machine

beginnings

[Pete's] invented a product called an AIR Patch Cable designed to interface with an airplane’s intercom, and is looking to manufacture and assemble them himself — unfortunately, the circuit boards are tiny, and SMD components aren’t exactly the easiest to install. So he decided to build a pick and place machine to do it for him!

It’s not finished yet, but [Pete] has reached a major milestone — he’s finished the base CNC machine aspect of it. He opted for a kit build for the major mechanical components, the Shapeoko 2 — its a solid design and if you decided to make something from scratch it’d probably cost much more and take a lot longer.

From there he began selecting his electronics individually. He’s chosen the Big Easy Driver by Sparkfun to control his stepper motors, which supports a maximum size of NEMA 17 steppers, so he bought five of those too. To control it all, he’s using LinuxCNC which is an excellent choice — and if you’re not crazy about Linux, you can actually download Ubuntu 10.04 with LinuxCNC pre-installed for you to make it super easy — you’ll just need an old dedicated PC to use.

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,322 other followers