A simple, battery-powered, pocket-sized, open source parts counter for 8 mm cut tape and partial reels

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BeanCounter is an SMT parts counter that fits in your pocket. Powered by a CR2032 coin cell, it uses two IR photointerrupters to count parts about as fast as you can pull them through. It works with any opaque, 8-mm-wide carrier tape up to 2 mm in height, which covers most 0805-or-smaller LEDs and passives, as well as SOT23 transistors.

BeanCounter Demo

To use BeanCounter, simply turn it on and start pulling tape through. It will immediately begin counting your parts using one of two modes:

BeanCounter can be configured for varying part pitch in either mode, so you can accurately count any part that physically fits through the counter.

Digging a little deeper, what BeanCounter actually does is count feed holes and divide by the part pitch. Because it does not detect empty pockets, you will need to make sure it begins counting after any empty tape has been pulled through and stops counting before it reaches the tail. To help with this, we’ve added a "pause" button that you can use to freeze the count while pulling empty tape.

Scales From a Single Drawer to a Room Full of Bins

You don’t need to own shelves and shelves of inventory to be overwhelmed by the task of counting SMT components. Even a hobbyist with a shoebox full of cut tape will grow tired of tallying parts by hand or measuring lengths and doing division. Whether you’re making a few widgets for fun, throwing together badges for a con, or stocking your online shop, you have better ways to spend your time than counting grains of rice.

And if you do have shelves full of inventory, then you’re well aware of the challenges BeanCounter was built to address. Traditional reel counters are not only expensive and complicated to operate, they’re really only good for counting reels. BeanCounter provides more granular inventory tracking by allowing you to count cut tape as well.

If you deal with SMT tape in any capacity, BeanCounter can help. If you’re making kits and need to cut fixed lengths from a full reel, it has a mode just for that. And if you’re a parts supplier who offers cut tape or buys surplus partial reels, it can help you keep track of what’s coming and going.

Features & Specifications

Open Source

You can find our open source hardware, firmware and docs in our GitHub repository. Hardware files (EDA and 3D CAD) are licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 and the firmware is MIT Licensed.

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BeanCounter is part of the Microchip Get Launched design competition!

In the Press

Hackster News

"A bean counter that even engineers can appreciate."



"[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."


"An incredibly useful thing!"

"A pocket-sized parts counter works with any opaque, 8 mm wide carrier tape up to 2 mm in height."

About the Team

Great Big Factory

Wytheville, VA, USA  ·  GreatBigFactory  ·

Great Big Factory is a micro-scale contract manufacturer and engineering services firm in rural Virginia. We assemble circuit boards, design embedded systems, and provide a home for neglected manufacturing equipment.

Nick Poole


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