Great Big Factory
Soldering
Microchip

BeanCounter

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

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Surface mount components on 8 mm carrier tape are among the most commonly used in electronics assembly today. Whether you’re a hobbyist, a manufacturer, or a supplier, you probably handle 8 mm reels and cut tape all the time. As the smallest standard size, 8 mm tape carries tiny, densely packed components that are difficult to count by hand. There are plenty of existing methods for counting parts on tape, from the humble ruler-and-calculator technique to large, expensive, automated reel counters. We couldn’t find anything that was both portable and simple to use, though, which is why we designed BeanCounter.

BeanCounter is an SMT parts counter that fits in your pocket. It’s battery powered and 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 with a part height of up to 2 mm for plastic tapes and a total thickness of 1mm for paper tapes. This covers most 0805-or-smaller LEDs and passives, as well as SOT23 transistors. It’s an affordable SMT tape counter without unnecessary bells and whistles.

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

Part pitch is configurable 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 cannot differentiate between parts and empty pockets, you will need to ensure that it begins counting after 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.

On the Bench

Counting your parts before a build can prevent frustration and wasted solder paste. Keep BeanCounter at your bench to quickly count your cut-tape components. Putting together kits for your online shop and need to cut a bunch of strips of resistors? Use Dispense Mode to count out your portions quickly.

In the Warehouse

A tape-and-reel counter that you can carry around the warehouse floor is a game changer for inventory management. Spot check a partial reel before you start a build or pick a length of cut tape from a reel without dragging the whole thing to a tabletop reel counter. Equip each member of your team with their own BeanCounter or use the lanyard hole to anchor them to inventory shelves so they don’t get lost.

In the Field

Ever find yourself at a swap meet or surplus store browsing partial reels? With BeanCounter in your kit, you can determine whether or not that specified quantity—the one that’s been crossed out and re-written several times—is actually correct.

Features

Comparisons

BeanCounterSpotCheck™ Reel EstimatorRobotDigg MRD-902Iteco County Evo
Counting Method Optical Estimation Mechanical Optical
Pocket SizedYes If you have big pockets Absolutely not Absolutely not
Battery PoweredYes Yes No No
Empty Pocket DetectionNo No Yes No
Automatic Tape FeedNo N/A Yes With attachment
Supports Multiple Tape WidthNo Yes Yes Yes
Supports Multiple Part PitchYes Yes Yes Yes
Positive & Negative CountingYes N/A Yes Yes
Weight<50 g 180 g 14 kg 1.8 kg
Max Count999 999,999 99,999 999,999
Price$85-$90 $279 $440 $1,190

Support & Documentation

In the Press

Hackaday

Hackaday

"[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."


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Produced by Great Big Factory in Wytheville, VA, USA.

Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.

BeanCounter

One BeanCounter with a wrist lanyard and a non-rechargeable coin-cell battery

$85 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

BeanCounter With Big Ugly Battery Upgrade

One BeanCounter with a wrist lanyard, a Big Ugly Battery Upgrade (BUBU), and two non-rechargeable AAA batteries

$90 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

About the Team

Great Big Factory

Wytheville, VA, USA  ·   GreatBigFactory  ·   greatbigfactory.com

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
 NPoole

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