Cheap Air Pickup

If you work with surface mount components, you might want an air pickup tool (sometimes called air or vacuum tweezers). You can find inexpensive ones that use a bulb or spring mechanism (like a solder sucker). While these are cheap, they don’t work very well. [Natsfr] had one of these cheap tools and decided to add a proper pump to make it work like a much more expensive tool.

The post is in French, but translation is easy. There is also a video you can see below. The plan is simple: convert a pump into a vacuum source and connect into the pen. Instead of the ubiquitous modified aquarium pumps, [Natsfr] modifies an (even cheaper) pump that he got from an online auction.

If you’re in the mood for something fancier, check out this pick-and-place with a piezo pump.

7 thoughts on “Cheap Air Pickup

  1. I used parts of a small hypodermic syringe and a cut-off needle. Both is very cheap at the pharmacy. Added some plastic tubing, hot-glue and a pump from a surplus store which was originally probably for a pneumatic car central-locking. Had to run it with about half rated voltage to allow continuous run without overheating. But otherwise it would have been to strong anyway.

  2. Doing anything with an enema bulb is a pain in the… And parts fall off if it leaks. Fish pump inside small tank or jar, make it blow out sealed port and port jar to tool pickup.

    1. i see what u did thar

      The bulb things aren’t great, but they can be pretty handy for building models, especially for those smallish flat parts where there’s nowhere to hold it while gluing.

  3. Anyone know what gauge of needle they use on these pickup tools? I had a Aoyue vacuum pickup station, and I lost the damn needle off the handpiece… But I still have all my rubber bits. I’d rather not have to buy a cheap little pickup pen when I could just as easily buy like 25 or 50 needles of the correct size for the same price. :\ (Because then I could make all sorts of pickup tools!)

  4. I just finished my version of one of these. I used a 12v vacuum pump, and a solenoid valve with a foot switch to switch the air on/off. I tried the aquarium pump method – first one couldn’t be modified easily – the second one didn’t have very good suction.

    I haven’t used it yet – still waiting for a shipment of pcbs.

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