[Nick Poole] has an interesting idea for a new tool, one that has the simple goal of making accurate part counts of SMT reels as easy as pulling tape through a device. That device is the BeanCounter, an upcoming small handheld unit of his own design that counts parts as quickly as one can pull tape through a slot. The device is powered by a CR2032 cell and and works with 8 mm wide tapes up to 2 mm in height, which [Nick] says covers most 0805 or smaller sized parts, as well as things like SOT-23 transistors.
Why would one want to make such a task easier? Two compelling reasons for such a tool include: taking inventory of parts on partial reels or cut tape, and creating segments that contain a known number of parts.
The first is handy for obvious reasons, and the second is useful for things like creating kits. In fact, the usefulness of this tool for creating tape segments of fixed length is perhaps not obvious to anyone who hasn’t done it by hand. Sure, one can measure SMT tape with a ruler or a reference mark to yield a segment containing a fixed number of parts, but that involves a lot of handling and doesn’t scale up very well. In fact, the hassle of cutting tape segments accurately and repeatedly is a common pain point, so making the job easier has value.
If you looked at the photos and suspected that the big, 7-segment numeric display is done with clever PCB fabrication options (making segments by shining LEDs through PCB layers, a trick we always like to see) you’re not alone. After all, [Nick] has a lot of experience in getting clever with board fabrication, and eagle-eyed readers may even suspect that the reset and setup buttons on the edge of the tool are created by using flex PCB segments as switches. Want the nitty-gritty details? Visit the GitHub repository for the project and see it all for yourself at the CAD level.