Your personal open hardware PCB assembly machine

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Jan 02, 2020

Project update 3 of 24

More Q&A and Procuring Off-the-Shelf Parts

by Gino Magarotto

To begin, we want to wish you all a happy new year and thank everyone who made this project possible—not only my awesome backers, but also those of you who took the time to give us feedback. Now the real fun begins!

Q: Will the machine have some dedicated lights for the cameras?

A: Yes, I’m currently designing a carrier board for LEDs that will assist the vision system with variable intensity light.

Q: How are the strip feeders used?

A: The strip feeders need to be positioned within the work area of the machine and are loaded by sliding in a piece of SMD tape. All models measure 150 x 55 x 9.5 mm, which means they support different numbers of usable strips, depending on the width of the tape they are designed to feed. We just got a 45 degree dovetail cutter for machining some test slots into a chunk of polyethylene. If the fit proves adequate, I’ll start looking for a suitable acetal plate from which to fabricate the strip feeders.

Dovetail cutter for fabricating strip feeders

Q: Can you provide more information regarding the motion system?

A: SimplePnP uses three TMC2209 stepper drivers for the table and two or three more for the head. They are controlled by two separate ATmega328p microcontrollers running standard GRBL. One is mounted on the head, which allows us to reduce the number of cables required to just two: serial data and power. That, in turn, makes for a cleaner machine that is easier to assemble. The microcontrollers are user replaceable.

So what’s next? We have already requested funds so that we can begin manufacturing before the campaign ends. We’ll purchase the off-the-shelf parts and some tooling to begin manufacturing the custom items. Now that the holiday season has ended, it should be smooth sailing with regard to shipping times as long as we plan around Chinese New Year.

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