Test fixture for the OrangeCrab

We are excited about the OrangeCrab FPGA dev board by Greg Davill as it packs the power of an ECP5 FPGA, which has an open source design flow, and 128MB DDR3 RAM into the Adafruit Feather form-factor:

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We were happy to fabricate the boards for test fixture and it is great to see Greg showing it is action:

Along with the process he went through assembling it:

Test fixture for the OrangeCrab

Open Source Pick and Place Has a $450 BOM Cost

Give your grizzled and cramped hands a break from stuffing boards with surface mount components. This is the job of pick and place machine, and over the years these tools of the trade for Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) have gotten closer to reality for the home shop; with some models diving below the $10,000 mark. But if you’re not doing it professionally, those are still unobtanium.

The cost of this one, on the other hand, could be explained away as a project in itself. You’re not buying a $450 shop tool, you’re purchasing materials to chase the fever dream of building an open source pick and place machine. There are two major parts here, an X/Y/Z machine tool that can also rotate the vacuum-based parts picker, and the feeders that reel out components to be placed. All of this is working, but there’s still a long road to travel before it becomes a set and forget machine.

The rubber hits the road in two ways with pick and place machines: the feeders, and the optical placement. The feeders are where [Stephen Hawes] has done a ton of work, all shown in his video series that began back in January. The stackup of PCBs and 3D-prints hangs on the front rail of the gantry assembly, is adjustable for tape widths, and uses an interesting PCB encoder wheel and worm-gear for fine-tuning the feed. [Stephen’s] main controller board, a RAMPS shield for and Arduino Mega that runs a customized version of Marlin, can work with up to 32 of these feeders.

via Open Source Pick and Place Has a $450 BOM Cost — Hackaday

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Clever Wedges That Will Increase Your PCB Assembly Yield

If there’s one thing that will bring down the yield of your PCB assembly, it’s your solder paste. Put too much on, and you’ll get bridged leads. If you don’t put enough on, that pad might not make good contact. [ScalarElectric] has an amazing trick that’s sure to astonish and astound. Just use wedges and you’ll get better yield with fine-pitched components.

The trick here is to define the cream/solder paste layer of each package as a wedge on each pad instead of the usual rectangle. This gives a few benefits, the largest being the increased gap between paste shapes. You’re also getting a reduction in the total amount of paste applied, and a subsequent improvement in yield. (Reportedly, we’d love to see some data on this.)

via Clever Wedges That Will Increase Your PCB Assembly Yield — Hackaday

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Advanced Assembly factory tour this Thursday (10/25)

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If you’re in the Denver area, join Laen and Drew for an open house at our new assembly partner: Advanced Assembly!

Join us for pizza, beer and tours of our newly remodeled, high-tech facility as we celebrate 14 years in business. Bring your co-workers too!

Please RSVP

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Advanced Assembly factory tour this Thursday (10/25)

Open House at Advanced Assembly on Oct. 25th

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If you’re in the Denver area, come meet our new assembly partner: Advanced Assembly!

They’re having an open house:

Join us for pizza, beer and tours of our newly remodeled, high-tech facility as we celebrate 14 years in business. Bring your co-workers too!

Please RSVP

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Open House at Advanced Assembly on Oct. 25th

Open Hardware Summit badges have arrived

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The Open Hardware Summit is coming on Thursday, September 27th at MITOSH Park and Screaming Circuits are producing an electronic conference badge this year for the Summit.  The badge features an e-paper display and an ESP32 microcontroller.

All 300 badges assembled by Screaming Circuits have arrived!

Thanks to Duane Benson and the rest of the team at Screaming Circuits for all the support on this project.

Follow the Open Hardware Summit 2018 badge project on Hackaday.io!

Open Hardware Summit badges have arrived

Monoprice Mini Converted to Pick and Place (Kinda)

Would you believe that you can take a cheap 3D printer and easily convert it into a full function pick and place machine to help assemble your PCBs? No? Well good, because you can’t. A real pick and place needs all kinds of sensors and logic to identify parts, rotate them, make sure everything is aligned, etc, etc. There’s no way you could just bolt all that onto a cheap 3D printer, and let’s not even talk about the lack of closed loop control.

But if you have a very specific use case, namely a PCB that only has a relatively large single part that doesn’t need to be rotated, [Connor Nishijima] might have a solution for you. He bought a $150 USD Monoprice Mini, and with the addition of a few printed parts, was able to build a machine that drastically cuts down the time it takes for him to build his LED boards. Best of all the modification doesn’t involve any permanent changes to the printer, he can just pop off the vacuum attachment when he wants to print something.

via Monoprice Mini Converted to Pick and Place (Kinda)

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Simple Mechanism Gives Support for SMT Assembly

 on the Hackaday blog:

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Simple Mechanism Gives Support for SMT Assembly

To fight the shakes, you can do one of two things: remove the human, or improve the human. Unable to justify a pick and place robot for the former, [Tom] opted to build a quick hand support for surface-mount work, and the results are impressive considering it’s built entirely of scrap.

It’s just a three-piece arm with standard butt hinges for joints; mounted so the hinge pins are perpendicular to the work surface and fitted with a horizontal hand rest, it constrains movement to a plane above the PCB. A hole in the hand rest for a small vacuum tip allows [Tom] to pick up a part and place it on the board — he reports that the tackiness of the solder paste is enough to remove the SMD from the tip.

Simple Mechanism Gives Support for SMT Assembly

Reflowduino: Circuit Board Assembly for Everyone

Timothy Woo has launched a Indiegogo campaign to manufacture his open-source, Arduino-compatible, wireless PCB reflow oven controller:

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Reflowduino: Circuit Board Assembly for Everyone!

Reflowduino is the first completely open-source, Arduino-compatible reflow oven controller of its kind that enables practically anyone to assemble their own beautiful circuit boards at home!

Reflowduino comes loaded with features, all in a compact Arduino-compatible package, with full documentation, example code, demo app, and comprehensive wiki on Github.

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Reflowduino is designed to be extremely easy to use! The general concept is to switch the power of the appliance on or off with a solid-state relay as shown below, measuring the temperature by placing the thermocouple tip inside the oven during the whole process.

If nothing else, please share this campaign to your friends, family, and anyone who might be interested on social media! Remember that every view counts for me, and I’m depending on you to make this happen!

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Reflowduino: Circuit Board Assembly for Everyone

Maker Faire Orlando soldering kit

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We are proud to be a sponsor of this Maker Faire Orlando soldering kit:

Advanced soldering training at Maker Faire Orlando

For the past six years at Maker Faire Orlando, members of FamiLab have taught attendees how to solder with a cool little Makey pin with 2 self-flashing LEDs.  We’ve been asked for more advanced soldering training, and we responded with the addition of a PIC-microcontroller-based board twinkling several LEDs, and with a switch that can be used to change the LED display pattern.

We opted to design the board such that it can be used as a pendant on a necklace (lanyard) or as a keychain (especially for those of you who like large keychains). The design is a scalloped 2.7″ circle with LEDs on the outside circle, and a hole at the top for a keyring. Batteries are on the back of the board.

Resources

Maker Faire Orlando soldering kit