Light Up Component Bins And A Manual Pick And Place

[Mike] makes some very niche musical instruments, and the production volume he’s looking at means there isn’t a need to farm out his assembly. This means doing everything by hand, including the annoying task of picking resistors and other components out of bins. After searching for a way to speed up his assembly process, he came up with the Stuffomatic, a device that locates the correct component at the press of a button.

The normal way of grabbing a part when assembling is reading the reference on the board, cross referencing the value on the BOM, and digging the correct part out of the bin. To speed this up, [Mike] put LEDs in each of the part bins, connected to a Teensy 2.0 that has the BOM stored in memory. Clicking a foot switch looks up the next component and lights up the LED in the associated part bin.

[Mike] says this invention has speeded up his assembly time by about 30%, a significant amount if you’re looking at hours to assemble one unit.

If you’re wondering exactly what [Mike] is assembling, check this out. It’s heavily inspired by the Ondes Martenot, an electronic musical instrument that’s about as old as the theremin, but a million times cooler. Video sample below.

28 thoughts on “Light Up Component Bins And A Manual Pick And Place

  1. Neat idea, but I see the opportunity for resistors to drop into adjacent bins when picking them at a rapid pace. I had (one of my many that will never see the light of day) an idea of doing something similar with a parts drawer cabinet where each drawer is actuated by a small RC servo.

    1. I could see that. But instead of servos use spring loaded drawers and a solenoid like in a cash drawer. If you did the release right you could have rows and columns of solenoids. Where it takes 2 solenoid pulls to open a drawer, similar to charlie-plexing, but with hardware. really cut down on the number of solenoids (or servos).

  2. About 30 years ago I saw a system for doing this – lights on bins, and a projector that shone an image onto the board showing where the part went. Used film for the image, and codes on the film edge for the lights

    1. yep, seen the same thing probably around the same time,
      each table had a “wall” of IC tubes an led for each tube and some kind of projector to show placement and orientation. They were making DDE Supermax servers, 68020 based I think

    2. My boss did exactly that in the 80’s for a PCB assembly production line in the UK. It speeded up assembly and cut errors at the same time. Nice to see the idea taken to a new level with a micro managing the assembly sequence.

    3. That could be done really easily with a projector and PowerPoint slides. The switch that activates the part bin would also advance the slide show. You could even project the value for double checking the part.

  3. Oh man, I’d take 0805 over that any day if I had the choice. I ahve gotten so much faster at even just hand-soldering most SMT — not even reflow — than through-hole parts, especially leaded parts. No bending, and no cutting! Then again, having a tweezer metcal helps. A lot.

    1. Using a blinky light is quite a bit faster. Might be 30%… probably depends on how many bins and how they’re laid out. (and how you calculate 30%)
      In warehousing, it’s called a Pick to Light system. Some of these systems also have sensors to verify that you reached into the correct bin.

  4. We are building a few prototypes for and needed to place some very fine pitch qfns. We hacked our 3d printer with an adapter to be used with a vacuum and used Pronterface to move the extruder assembly/vacuum system around. Its not as advanced as this setup but did help us to get some prototypes built. We have an ultimaker 2 but you could build an adapter like it for others.

    You can download it from thingiverse:

    1. Good grief indeed it is. I remember that (and I built my own similar setup on my home server with IIS and ASP). He also had a atari 2600 on the web which was perpetually broken. Seems like centuries ago

  5. Rather than an LED in each bin, I’d rather see a projector or maybe a laser pointer indicate the part of choice. This could be cheaper and would most likely be faster to implement.

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