Your personal open hardware PCB assembly machine

Available for pre-order

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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

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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