Update: Open source pick-and-place

[Tim’s] been busy moving his pick-and-place build toward completion. We looked in on the first version of the vacuum head back in October. Since then he’s ditched the camera enclosure which allows for more light and better mounting. The tip has been replaced by one from a pair of vacuum tweezers, and the whole thing is now mounted on a diy CNC machine. The video after the break shows it picking up that IC and moving it around the table. Looks like the part rotation feature is very accurate.

He mentions that the CNC he’s using is quite slow. We hope he checks out this printable Delta robot; hardware that is often used with pick and place machines.

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Vacuum forming at home

A little dumpster-diving let [Nick Skvarla] build his vacuum form machine for around $5. He pulled a vacuum cleaner out of the trash, which was tossed away because of a broken power plug. He put it into a box which had been sealed with spray foam and used a piece of pegboard for the top side of the enclosure. He takes a piece of 40 mil PETG plastic from the hobby shop and mounts it in a wooden frame. That goes into the oven on broil until the entire sheet is sagging, then onto the vacuum former. Above he’s making forms out of some figurines which he’ll walk you through in the video after the break.

There’s a whole world of manufacturing processes that use these forms as a starting point. What would you use this for?

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Carbon fiber part fabrication guide

If you’re thinking of working with carbon fiber this guide should be a big help. The example is aimed at the automotive crowd but the principles transfer quite easily. Carbon fiber parts are constructed in a similar manner as fiberglass parts. A mold is covered in a release agent, the fibers are put in place and covered in epoxy. With fiberglass the fibers are often sprayed on but carbon fiber components use woven mats of the material to build up multiple layers. Vacuum bags are used to hold the layers together, removing air and impregnating the fibers with the epoxy. This guide even outlines the construction of a vacuum pump needed for that step.

The benefits of carbon fiber are many, including strength and weight reduction. This makes it a great material for adding parts to weight-sensitive hacks such as quadcopters. But the mesh also has an interesting look which is why it shows up in custom electronics cases. The one real drawback is that when this material fails it is a catastrophic failure, tending to crumble across the entire structure rather than limiting damage to a small area. That means that a rough landing might be the end of your new parts.

[Thanks MS3FGX]

DIY Coffee Gripper

Here at Hackaday, we love it when people make home brew versions of elaborate, expensive, and technical equipment. By gathering up some coffee grounds, a balloon, some plastic tubing, and his lungs, [Carlos] has provided a good how-to on making your own coffee grounds robotic hand. Inspired by the U. Chicago, Cornell, and iRobot Collaboration we previously covered, he is one robot and a vacuum pump away from having their setup. Check out his blog for a list of components as well as a couple hints to help the build go smoothly. Be sure to check out the video after the break.

[via Make]

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Automated chip burning

[Alexsoulis] needed to burn the Arduino bootloader to a slew of ATmega328 chips. Instead of sitting there and plugged the chips into a programmer one at a time, he build a robotic microcontroller programmer.

It starts with the DIP package microcontrollers in a tube, with a servo motor to dispense them one-by-one. An arm swings over and picks up the chip with a fish pump powered vacuum tweezers similar to the pick-and-place head we saw recently. From there the chip is dropped into a ZIF socket and programmed by an Arduino. Once the process is complete it is moved to the side and the process repeats.

We’ve reported on using an Arduino as an AVR programmer but we’ve never actually done it ourselves (we use an AVR Dragon programmer). Take a look at the video after the break and let us know if you think the actual programming seems incredibly slow.

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Open source pick-and-place

This is a vacuum tweezers head for an open source pick-and-place. Those are the machines that professional printed circuit board manufacturers use to populate a circuit board with components before heading to the reflow oven. [Drmn4ea] built it with at-home rapid manufacturing in mind. The black orb on the left is a webcam for optical placement. The needle in the middle is an interchangeable vacuum-tool head. The motor on the right allows for different attachments to be swapped in automatically to suit a variety of parts.

This interfaces with a 3-axis CNC machine and should be easily compatible with a RepRap, Makerbot, or similar device. We wonder how he plans to handle reels of components, but this is a well-executed first step in the journey to a complete solution.

Want to see a professional pick-and-place at work? Check out one of SparkFun’s machines busy build a board after the break.

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Thieves, armed with a vacuum cleaner, still on the run

Thieves in Paris have been stealing money with the clever use of a vacuum. Not just bits of change here and there, they’ve stolen over 500,000 euros. They noticed that Monoprix supermarkets use a pneumatic tube system to transport rolls of cash to and from the safe. Realizing this was the weakest point in the security, they simply drilled a big hole in the tube, hooked up a vacuum and sucked the cash out. Forget lock picking or safe cracking, this had to be ridiculously easy.

The thieves are still out there, sucking their way to riches. At this point, they’ve hit 15 locations. Their luck has to run out some time right?

[via Slashdot]