Mike's Forums

Versatronics RV series Pick & Place machines => RV Hardware => Topic started by: Gopher on March 25, 2011, 09:00:39 PM

Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 25, 2011, 09:00:39 PM

I'd be interested in hearing everyone's experience of good/bad points of the Versatronics feeders (all versions), perhaps what they would change/enhance? We have some of the early feeders (like the first posting's picture) we have used as mules for our prototype VRplacer.

Obviously there is one person on here who has heard every gripe and whine big or small regarding the feeders and their quirks, but given he now sells a new machine that of course addresses most or all of them and you are possibly developing a competing machine.....

The RV has been an awesome machine and done what we need of it for years, aside from a few quirks its pretty much what you expect of it. However if there is a part of it that can make me start swearing profusely when it starts being annoying, it's the feeders as solving issues when they start being awkward is time consuming and fiddly.

So the ones in Mikes picture:

Come in banks - a pain

Threading in tape - a time consuming pain (exacerbated by the fact they are in banks)

The tape doubles back on itself under the feeder meaning it can snag on other tapes (especially if plastic) in the same bank (or hit the deck on stop moving if it's short) and stop feeding through. If it's a plastic tape it might continue feeding but create a massive loop popping up out of the feeder in the pick position

The indexing pin pushes the tape rather than pulling it, creates an inconsistent pick height when coupled with the previously mentioned doubling back because at the pick point, its not under tension.

Its an indexing pin, not a gear, so it only engages in the index holes to move forwards, a heavy or slightly reluctant reel can then pull the tape back a tiny bit after the index.

Its an indexing pin, not a gear, so its only got hold of the tape by one hole, this makes plastic tapes vulnerable to ripping if the the tension if not perfect, they are spliced or perhaps not pristine thru' poor storage or shipping.

If the plastic tape rips, bends or is otherwise not perfect it will jam, then you can say goodbye to the parts between that rip and the pick position  because it will keep jamming until you cut that bit off.

Cover tape take off reels can't hold the cover tape for a full 5k component reel.

Cover tape take off reels always rotate a fixed angular rotation meaning the tension is not constant, nothing you can do about this the big boys have the clever alternatives patented.

The indexing is short and sharp with hard acceleration and deceleration, parts like sot23 in plastic tape are wont to leap around or out of the their pockets, it also doesn't help with the whole plastic tape rip problem

They are dumb feeders, intelligent feeders with suitable supporting software can do wonders for keeping track of what is fitted where, what got fitted to what, when it was changed how many were wasted and all sorts of things, this level of data logging is very important for high mix if you need good traceability especially for ISO or other approvals. Intelligent feeders also means you can move them with impunity, no addressing nonsense.

The reel holder bits only take 7" reels.

The reel holder bit has slots that are too narrow for the newer 7" reels made from thinner plastic that is then reinforced with a crimped edge, these jam solid.

When a reel gets near to empty, rather than turning it gets pulled off the reel holder and into the tensioning assembly and jams.

See Phono's posts on the things he fixed with a custom replacement control card.

If you look at pictures of other machines feeders they are mostly quite similar, often the brochures include pictures of how they work to brag about the issues they have fixed (from the 90's and before) that used to plague operators. (Who are now senior people buying new ones I guess).  How many of the things that bug me you could change on a machine like an RV is another question entirely, mounting system, arm reach, cost, influences from similar machines (A TWS Quadra for example), must all have conspired to make the feeders what they are. And when they are setup just right they are perfectly ok, it's just they can suddenly decide they are not any more.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 12:06:58 AM
Comments below on how you might make a new design better, not fix the existing ones...

I'd be interested in hearing everyone's experience of good/bad points of the Versatronics feeders (all versions), perhaps what they would change/enhance? We have some of the early feeders (like the first posting's picture) we have used as mules for our prototype VRplacer.

Obviously there is one person on here who has heard every gripe and whine big or small regarding the feeders and their quirks, but given he now sells a new machine that of course addresses most or all of them and you are possibly developing a competing machine.....

The RV has been an awesome machine and done what we need of it for years, aside from a few quirks its pretty much what you expect of it. However if there is a part of it that can make me start swearing profusely when it starts being annoying, it's the feeders as solving issues when they start being awkward is time consuming and fiddly.

So the ones in Mikes picture:

Come in banks - a pain
But probably inevitable on a low-cost machine. A banked feeder with removable lanes would be nice, but would still be more expensive
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Threading in tape - a time consuming pain (exacerbated by the fact they are in banks)
agreed, but hard to see how you could improve this with a banked feeder. Maybe a per-lane stripper plate would help.
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The tape doubles back on itself under the feeder meaning it can snag on other tapes (especially if plastic) in the same bank (or hit the deck on stop moving if it's short) and stop feeding through. If it's a plastic tape it might continue feeding but create a massive loop popping up out of the feeder in the pick position
This could pretty easily be fixed with some holes in the baseboard so tapes go down instead of backwards
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The indexing pin pushes the tape rather than pulling it, creates an inconsistent pick height when coupled with the previously mentioned doubling back because at the pick point, its not under tension.
and  push-feeding is less tolerant of creased plastic tapes than pulling would be
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The indexing is short and sharp with hard acceleration and deceleration, parts like sot23 in plastic tape are wont to leap around or out of the their pockets, it also doesn't help with the whole plastic tape rip problem
Easily fixable - just software
Quote
They are dumb feeders, intelligent feeders with suitable supporting software can do wonders for keeping track of what is fitted where, what got fitted to what, when it was changed how many were wasted and all sorts of things, this level of data logging is very important for high mix if you need good traceability especially for ISO or other approvals. Intelligent feeders also means you can move them with impunity, no addressing nonsense.
This would be trivially easy and cheap to implement nowadays, using an RFID chip or NFC type link or opto coupled data link.
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The reel holder bits only take 7" reels.
The reel holder bit has slots that are too narrow for the newer 7" reels made from thinner plastic that is then reinforced with a crimped edge, these jam solid.
When a reel gets near to empty, rather than turning it gets pulled off the reel holder and into the tensioning assembly and jams.
All the above should be fixable by an adjustable-length arm arrangement that holds the reel by the centre hole.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 01:38:37 PM
Some but not all of the current generation are now using single feeders not banks on their low end machines, but obviously the goal posts have moved in the last decade, Surface mount is less a proportion of a typical portfolio and instead is its mainstay. This means we want more out of our machines even at entry level so the budget is perhaps a little larger. That said RV feeder banks were not cheap, £2000 (iirc) for 10 8mm lanes gives you a reasonable budget to strap an indexing mechanism to something (as demonstrated by the cost of vivo feeders) , and flexibility can save you a lot of money very quickly. Our manual pick and place that must be 20 years old has single feeders too

The importance and low cost of making feeders smart is demonstrated by the fact that it is now pretty  much standard on any current machine, I can only think of one that makes you pay extra for this option.Its not even a cheap one..... There are of course different interpretations of smart, some implementations look like they could be as irritating as they are useful.

I have been tempted to try cutting a big hole in the base board ;)

One of the most popular ways of holding reels seems to be just dropping them in slots in a curved trough, leaving the "feeder" to index and nothing else. If you held them by the centre on an arm system like an Rv you need some kind of brake or it will just empty itself over the floor by gravity. Well my attempt did lol. The worst option seems to be feeders that are designed for one size reel only.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 01:47:57 PM
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Obviously there is one person on here who has heard every gripe and whine big or small regarding the feeders and their quirks, but given he now sells a new machine that of course addresses most or all of them and you are possibly developing a competing machine.....
I waited along time to see the new machine (still haven't), and during that time I had to keep my old RV going, hence the all the improvements. I finally made the decision to produce this machine when I gave up waiting. I like the look of the new machine, but feel that it doesn't address the 'bottom' of the market and that there is still a decent (if not latent) market for something like the RV.

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The RV has been an awesome machine and done what we need of it for years, aside from a few quirks its pretty much what you expect of it. However if there is a part of it that can make me start swearing profusely when it starts being annoying, it's the feeders as solving issues when they start being awkward is time consuming and fiddly.
Agree, I think the problem mainly is that development stopped many years ago.

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Come in banks - a pain
I agree that in the ideal world the feeders would be individuals, but this does distort the cost model of a lower priced machine. I have quotes for 2nd user machines where over 2/3rds of the quote value is the feeders.

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Threading in tape - a time consuming pain (exacerbated by the fact they are in banks)
The tape doubles back on itself under the feeder meaning it can snag on other tapes (especially if plastic) in the same bank (or hit the deck on stop moving if it's short) and stop feeding through. If it's a plastic tape it might continue feeding but create a massive loop popping up out of the feeder in the pick position.
This could be solved in the basic mechanical design, I haven't had the snagging problem yet - but I tend to use alot of paper tapes.

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The indexing pin pushes the tape rather than pulling it, creates an inconsistent pick height when coupled with the previously mentioned doubling back because at the pick point, its not under tension.
Its an indexing pin, not a gear, so it only engages in the index holes to move forwards, a heavy or slightly reluctant reel can then pull the tape back a tiny bit after the index.
Pulling the tape and doing this just prior to the pick (leaving the pin in the tape, during the pick) would solve this?

Quote
Its an indexing pin, not a gear, so its only got hold of the tape by one hole, this makes plastic tapes vulnerable to ripping if the the tension if not perfect, they are spliced or perhaps not pristine thru' poor storage or shipping.
Changing to a gear certainly solves the problem, but it does mean a total redesign, and the production cost of a sprocket system may be too high. Multiple pins might be feasible to spread the load.

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If the plastic tape rips, bends or is otherwise not perfect it will jam, then you can say goodbye to the parts between that rip and the pick position  because it will keep jamming until you cut that bit off.
Perhaps a problem inherent in other feeder designs?

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Cover tape take off reels can't hold the cover tape for a full 5k component reel.
Hopefully trivial to solve.

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Cover tape take off reels always rotate a fixed angular rotation meaning the tension is not constant, nothing you can do about this the big boys have the clever alternatives patented.
Hmm - do you mean the Agilis system?

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The indexing is short and sharp with hard acceleration and deceleration, parts like sot23 in plastic tape are wont to leap around or out of the their pockets, it also doesn't help with the whole plastic tape rip problem

They are dumb feeders, intelligent feeders with suitable supporting software can do wonders for keeping track of what is fitted where, what got fitted to what, when it was changed how many were wasted and all sorts of things, this level of data logging is very important for high mix if you need good traceability especially for ISO or other approvals. Intelligent feeders also means you can move them with impunity, no addressing nonsense.
I would defiantly make future feeders 'intelligent', I also plan on removing the AC mains from them. If the feeder banks could detect which position they where in (simple 'coded' sockets on the base unit, that also supplied DC and serial data) this would allow for modern 'intelligent' functionality.

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The reel holder bits only take 7" reels.

The reel holder bit has slots that are too narrow for the newer 7" reels made from thinner plastic that is then reinforced with a crimped edge, these jam solid.

When a reel gets near to empty, rather than turning it gets pulled off the reel holder and into the tensioning assembly and jams.
Good feedback. Will lookout for crimped edge jamming.

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See Phono's posts on the things he fixed with a custom replacement control card.
I'm aware of these cards - I think he is a hero for solving what should have been done sometime ago.

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If you look at pictures of other machines feeders they are mostly quite similar, often the brochures include pictures of how they work to brag about the issues they have fixed (from the 90's and before) that used to plague operators. (Who are now senior people buying new ones I guess).  How many of the things that bug me you could change on a machine like an RV is another question entirely, mounting system, arm reach, cost, influences from similar machines (A TWS Quadra for example), must all have conspired to make the feeders what they are. And when they are setup just right they are perfectly ok, it's just they can suddenly decide they are not any more.
I think the bottom end of the market lacks innovation (don't get me going on those fishing lures...), my aim really is not to build a fast machine, just something that works well and is straight-forward to setup and maintain. Basically something you look forward to using and not get stressed about as you hit the on-switch. I think nowadays the mechanical complexity can be lowered dramatically and the quality of the software improved also.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 02:06:01 PM
Some but not all of the current generation are now using single feeders not banks on their low end machines, but obviously the goal posts have moved in the last decade, Surface mount is less a proportion of a typical portfolio and instead is its mainstay. This means we want more out of our machines even at entry level so the budget is perhaps a little larger. That said RV feeder banks were not cheap, £2000 (iirc) for 10 8mm lanes gives you a reasonable budget to strap an indexing mechanism to something (as demonstrated by the cost of vivo feeders) , and flexibility can save you a lot of money very quickly. Our manual pick and place that must be 20 years old has single feeders too
I have a target goal of between £50-100 per lane, this isn't really arbitary but relates to our overall model. We can certainly hit the upper end of this span.

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The importance and low cost of making feeders smart is demonstrated by the fact that it is now pretty  much standard on any current machine, I can only think of one that makes you pay extra for this option.Its not even a cheap one..... There are of course different interpretations of smart, some implementations look like they could be as irritating as they are useful.
Agree, smart and intelligent are terms that seem to cover the inclusion of $0.20 worth of NVRAM.

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I have been tempted to try cutting a big hole in the base board ;)
I like this idea, it might make removal of a bank more difficult though?

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One of the most popular ways of holding reels seems to be just dropping them in slots in a curved trough, leaving the "feeder" to index and nothing else. If you held them by the centre on an arm system like an Rv you need some kind of brake or it will just empty itself over the floor by gravity. Well my attempt did lol. The worst option seems to be feeders that are designed for one size reel only.
I like the simple designs the best.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 03:12:38 PM

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The RV has been an awesome machine and done what we need of it for years, aside from a few quirks its pretty much what you expect of it. However if there is a part of it that can make me start swearing profusely when it starts being annoying, it's the feeders as solving issues when they start being awkward is time consuming and fiddly.
Agree, I think the problem mainly is that development stopped many years ago.
Yes - mechanical things can be fixed, but the biggest frustration for me is that there are so many things that could be improved if only the software was tweakable - many annoyances would be trivial to fix. This is why Open Source works so well - anyone can fix the things that annoy them.
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 I also plan on removing the AC mains from them.
Yes - if nothing else it would make the connectors & cabling cheaper. The silly thing is that as only one feeder will be drawing power at a time, you don't even need a much bigger PSU to run lots of feeders. OK when these feeders were designed, feeder electronics draw a fair amount but that's a complete non-issue these days
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If the feeder banks could detect which position they where in (simple 'coded' sockets on the base unit, that also supplied DC and serial data) this would allow for modern 'intelligent' functionality.


I always feel uncomfortable at the thought of connectors mounted to something that vibrates a lot - unless they are in a floating mount, flying leads are probably a cheaper option than suitably rugged fixed connectors.
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I think the bottom end of the market lacks innovation (don't get me going on those fishing lures...), my aim really is not to build a fast machine, just something that works well and is straight-forward to setup and maintain. Basically something you look forward to using and not get stressed about as you hit the on-switch. I think nowadays the mechanical complexity can be lowered dramatically and the quality of the software improved also.
I think that there is an increasing market for low-end (<<10K inc feeders) machines that is crying out to be filled. Look at what's been happening in the Open Source hardware world in the last few years - Products like Makerbot are revolutionising previously unaffordable technologies. There is an explosion of small outfits making small numbers of electronic products, and the few companies bringing assembly in-house like Adafruit are struggling with Chinese-built machines with flaky software and minimal support. If you ask me, a machine with a low entry cost is probably more marketable now than it has ever been, as well as more feasible due to the cost of computing reaching near-negligible levels. 
More so if you make all the software & hardware open source - this will not only harness a lot of potential work from some very clever developers out there, but create a lot of market goodwill and user-to-user support. Open Source is becoming a major selling point, and will only become more so.
I have no doubt that you could implement a good imaging system around the OpenCV vision library and some cheap webcams with no more than a little lens hacking.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 03:15:08 PM
Hmmm sounds like an interesting project. I am also in the market for something to takeover from the RV but perhaps unlike you I do need it to be faster, easier (ideally a temp should be able to run the machine if not set it up) and more accurate. This means I have tossed out things from my potential list that might well go head to head with yours.
I am told that machines like APS novastor can come to about £35k which about 1/2 the next echelon up. That in real terms is perhaps cheaper than the rv4 was and it certainly looks like they have been actively developing the platform. Then there are weird MDC/Manncorp or Mechatronika tabletop ones and the assisted manual pick and place like the fritsch 902.
What is the bottom of the market? If our company for instance bought something like an RV again we would be standing still, and actively turning down work. People need and expect us to have abilities these machines don't provide. A low end machine that is standalone and of static configuration could end up costing you more than buying the more expensive modular option that lets you grow or even just handle that one off big job that happened along.
Feeders are certainly expensive both new and old, but if I account for the cost of changeover using an RV, that is expensive too.
What would be interesting is what killed Versatronics? Did it for instance saturate the low end market (which is perhaps smaller than one might think) and then not have the revenues to develop the something new that was needed. Or did they just lose the brains behind the next project? While it may be possible to build something good on quite a low budget (unlike HRT it seems) can you sell it & support it and still hold the entry level price you want.
The other issue is sub contract, as a small sub contractor ourselves there's no question our sector is after your potential market. Being small makes us flexible, with a machine with low changeover times and spare capacity after regular runs that are our main staple; companies like the one I work for are quite happy to do short notice, quick turnaround, low volume jobs, kitted or not. Companies like us do try to sell each other their services now and again but overall what we are not good at is getting out there and selling those services or people would not be buying decrepit Rv1's and a toaster oven and trying to do it themselves.
Title: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 03:27:13 PM
I think the newest potential market for low-end may be not so much  subcontractors but people wanting to bring things in-house for various reasons.
A large proportion of subcontract assembly has moved overseas, so there are fewer local choices, and trying to find the right fit for your requirements can be hard, especially if your volumes are low, more so if you need fast turnarounds.
A small suncontractor is vulnerable to disappearing if they lose a customer, and a big place will either not be interested or will charge high get-out-of-bed costs. Even when you find a good place, the lower-volume customer will get slotted in between the larger jobs, and the option to pay more for fast service is rarely there due to the overall job value.

Getting it right will require a lot of clever design work, so in terms of development cost and support, the only way I can see a good, useable low-cost machine ever happening is as an open source collaboration. 
 
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 03:38:06 PM
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Companies like us do try to sell each other their services now and again but overall what we are not good at is getting out there and selling those services or people would not be buying decrepit Rv1's and a toaster oven and trying to do it themselves.
BTW members here are more than welcome to include links to their business website in their forum sig.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 03:59:17 PM
<£10k ? that's not even an operator! at this price point it's is surely not something you can sell for profit, it's collaboration for mutual benefit or nothing. I have wondered why it has not yet being attempted either for AOI or p&p, certainly there are closed source lab/homebrew projects (they look rubbish).
W.r.t your comments on subcontract providers, I have read some of the appeals made on other forums for help going the DIY route because they can't find a subcontractor who can do what they want. But in the appeal is the reason why, they are asking for the earth! In house assembly cannot provide what some of them think they can do, 24 busy pcb's with no notice, no kitting and no understanding of the process into the mix, oh and over the weekend please! If ones budget is as tight as some of these people claim, your pcb's are coming from outside Europe/USA, that means you can give your sub-con 3 weeks notice.With 3 weeks notice it's plain sailing even there is a big job to slot it round. And in our case, while we do have a core OEM product line, 28 years and counting, I don't think we're that risky.
 Once you get a machine you start designing more things to use it, before you know it your original estimates -bunkum.

Being open source brings advantages and disadvantages

Pro's

It can keep going if its main backer fails or drops out
Anyone can contribute
Tweaks can be made for one off requirements
Interesting ideas can come in and you have a nice array of beta testers
Buying one would be less fraught with doubt than a new entrant who might go titsup 2 years later
Documentation through wiki, so all those questions get answered only once.

Con's

If its main backer fails or drops out they might well take the expertise needed to keep going with them.
The target market might not have the skills or time to help with development.
Most or indeed all open source projects have a few core contributors and a whole bunch of leeches.
The physical machine can be knocked off cheap by the Chinese who then undercut you by ignoring the original ethics and aims of the project. I would assume such a project would require at least some income form the sales of hardware and support if only to fund development


no doubt many edits for more...........
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 04:01:21 PM
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Companies like us do try to sell each other their services now and again but overall what we are not good at is getting out there and selling those services or people would not be buying decrepit Rv1's and a toaster oven and trying to do it themselves.
BTW members here are more than welcome to include links to their business website in their forum sig.

To do that I'd have to delete half my posts, correct the typo's in the rest and go on a PR course ;). Not to mention update our website to properly include our sub-con work not just our OEM line that would interest none of you.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: SteveW on March 26, 2011, 04:12:36 PM
I think the newest potential market for low-end may be not so much  subcontractors but people wanting to bring things in-house for various reasons.

That's me, in a nutshell. A little design consultancy that needs a faster turn than can be got from subbing the assembly out. We very rarely make more than 10 of anything, but I do need those 10 in a hurry. I also may need to build one, debug it, traipse it round to the customer, then build the rest. Manual pick & place onto solder paste has been the method in the past, but it's so tedious that babysitting an RV1 is a huge improvement. Not having to kit for external subbies (or wait the week while they kit) is compelling. Even knocking a day or two each way of transit time off saves me a working week...
While my RV1 is a bit frustrating, its pretty much the size, speed and capability I'm after. I don't need features that a full time board stuffer wants. Heck, the RV1 could be substantially slower and still be OK. I've got plenty to be getting on with while it chunters away. I just need it not to behead itself while I'm on the other side of the room.

The muttering about an open source, slow, flexible, machine appeals to me greatly. Knocking up some USB-powered feeders to sit round a makerbot, f'rinstance?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: SteveW on March 26, 2011, 04:19:43 PM
If ones budget is as tight as some of these people claim, your pcb's are coming from outside Europe/USA, that means you can give your sub-con 3 weeks notice.

Err, no. My PCBs come from Cambridge Circuits, who are within cycling distance. 2-day turn PCBs, a day to assemble & test. Cycle round to customer to deliver. This is life in a prototyping shop...
This three weeks of which you speak - that's just a different world.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 04:43:05 PM
I have set a basic specification and spent alot of time thinking about the potential market.

Sub-contractors/faster machines
I'm not targeting sub-contractors specifically, mainly the 'little-guy' who wants to bring his low volume assembly in-house. The price point of the machine is going to be very important - we have a target of <£8-10K with a 'sensible' number of feeders and feeder mix.  I don't know what the market size is - I'm not sure anyone does really, as it's quite likely this machine will set a new price point/quality.

Open source?
Probably not. I'm quite sure that opening the code up to the wider world would have certain benefits - but it isn't a model I'm comfortable with. Mainly the fact that there is a risk of damage to warranteed hardware if the user can tinker or load a non-approved application. In fact the idea behind the code is to license it so that you would pay a small amount annually for the latest major revision.  This appears to be a model with a proven track record (I have used Easy-PC for many many years like this, and pay them about £60 per year for the latest version).  The incentive to keep supporting older machines in the market with new features then exists.

Sales/Support
The tough one.  How to support a low-cost machine? Well, for a start make it very reliable and very simple to setup.  Secondly make it intrinsically calibrated. Thirdly, make it fully user serviceable.
For example: how many people actually replace the RV vacuum pump themselves vs. getting perhaps a third party to do it? Same thing with belts? Perhaps on the present the only reason to involve a third party is calibration if/when it goes out - and why? Because it is designed to require a specialist tool/device which is (a) not supplied with the purchase (b) probably couldn't buy or afford to buy if you could.
So the result of the design (and I'm not attacking it - I understand the historic reasons for some of the machine) is that it creates servicing calls that just aren't necessary if designed differently.
I'm not suggesting at all that it won't be fully supported OR that the user won't be able to call up a service technician - just that it the requirement to do it will be minimised, and after all - if it takes 5 minutes to change a motor amplifier/camera/pump/etc... and it can be Fedex'd by 10AM next day, why would you want to schedule an engineer for later that week.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 04:47:41 PM
Hehe, the difference in price between 3 weeks and 2 days tho' is terrifying. Most of our own stuff is done in batches of similar size to yours, sub-contract pays for the equipment to do it in house and allows to contemplate more ambitious things. If we ran would effectively be just in time or lean manufacturing on our own stuff and so bought pcb's on short notice in small numbers the cost would go through the roof, not feasible in our market.
3 days is an impressive turnaround :D, we do have customers who say, oh there's a board arriving 2morrow please build it so I can pick it up ASAP and while that can happen in 2/3 days what usually happens is they have designed something in that cannot be sourced in that timeframe  - usually because they picked their parts from digi-key or some ghastly internal approved parts list that needs updating. Without that stumbling block 5 working days or so low volume is a market I personally want my employers to look at even closer because it works well with everything else.
I would be very interested to know what kind of timeframes etc you ran into before going the DIY route
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 05:33:36 PM
<£10k ? that's not even an operator! at this price point it's is surely not something you can sell for profit, it's collaboration for mutual benefit or nothing. I have wondered why it has not yet being attempted either for AOI or p&p, certainly there are closed source lab/homebrew projects (they look rubbish).
It is profitable (else I wouldn't do it) - but there isn't the sort of fat in the project to make it attractive to the big players. I have seen the car-parks of some of these companies.. neither will our sales team drive Porsches (you know who you are..).
We plan on providing training but this will be at our factory, we will also offer to install your machine - although you can do it yourself.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 05:43:06 PM
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<£10k ? that's not even an operator! at this price point it's is surely not something you can sell for profit, it's collaboration for mutual benefit or nothing.

Not sure how true that is. How much does the hardware really cost, if well designed for low-cost manufacture?
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Being open source brings advantages and disadvantages

Pro's

It can keep going if its main backer fails or drops out
Anyone can contribute
Tweaks can be made for one off requirements
Interesting ideas can come in and you have a nice array of beta testers
Buying one would be less fraught with doubt than a new entrant who might go titsup 2 years later
Documentation through wiki, so all those questions get answered only once.

Con's

If its main backer fails or drops out they might well take the expertise needed to keep going with them.
This can happen with a closed-source solution too. Or a small company. But if O/S the info is there and it can be taken up by others. With closed source you're screwed, like with the RV.
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The target market might not have the skills or time to help with development.
Only a proportion of it needs this, and it is likely that even those that don;t contribute to code or design can provide valuable ideas and feedback based on their experience and expertise
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Most or indeed all open source projects have a few core contributors and a whole bunch of leeches.
So what? As long as there are enough useful contributors the others don't matter
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The physical machine can be knocked off cheap by the Chinese who then undercut you by ignoring the original ethics and aims of the project.
This is a common retort to the concept of open source hardware, however this can just as easily happen with closed-source hardware (I just bought a 'Segger' J-link JTAG interface for £30 on Ebay from China), and I believe there have yet to be any significant instances of this actually happenning.
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I would assume such a project would require at least some income form the sales of hardware and support if only to fund development
There are a lot of OSHW companies doing very nicely thank you  a few with >$1m turnover.

With P&P there would be plenty of opportunity to sell support packages to people who
want it - companies like Red Hat have made decent busnisses out of this model

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Open source?
Probably not. I'm quite sure that opening the code up to the wider world would have certain benefits - but it isn't a model I'm comfortable with. Mainly the fact that there is a risk of damage to warranteed hardware if the user can tinker or load a non-approved application.
That can fairly easily be dealt with - it's only the lowest level motion-control stuff that has risk of breakage, and wrapping that up in a 'do not touch' DLL, or in embedded firmware wouldn't be a big deal, while still offering the ability to tweak things that people want to.
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In fact the idea behind the code is to license it so that you would pay a small amount annually for the latest major revision.  This appears to be a model with a proven track record (I have used Easy-PC for many many years like this, and pay them about £60 per year for the latest version).  The incentive to keep supporting older machines in the market with new features then exists.
Paying for upgrades is one thing, as long as it's not the sort of insidious model where the software stops working after a time period  I would never consider buying anything that worked like that.
However it does have the potential to get messy - some people will not upgrade, meaning there will be a mix of software versions out there, and if you need to release a fix for a serious bug (which users will not be happy paying for),  things can quickly get messy.
Another thing I always fell leaves a bad taste in the mouth is where companies sell hardware that is cripped and you then have to pay extra to use kit you already own (Agilent Scopes come to mind - paying for extra software functions is one thing, but having to pay to enable all the memory is taking the piss.  
As regards development funding, Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/) is an interesting concept for open source type projects.

Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 05:58:30 PM
I have set a basic specification and spent a lot of time thinking about the potential market.

Sub-contractors/faster machines
I'm not targeting sub-contractors specifically, mainly the 'little-guy' who wants to bring his low volume assembly in-house. The price point of the machine is going to be very important - we have a target of <£8-10K with a 'sensible' number of feeders and feeder mix.  I don't know what the market size is - I'm not sure anyone does really, as it's quite likely this machine will set a new price point/quality.

Ok if I go back to where we were 10 years ago when the RV machine did one or 2 things for us and one other customers products so effectively similar to a "little guy" in house line.  Forget the feeders, the niggles are not rocket science to get round and you could even argue that perhaps batch sizes here warranted most stuff going onto passive strip feeder holders. I am going to shrink the theoretical company because at 14-20 the real one is too big and a lot of it is full turnkey.

£60/year sounds low it may even be low enough to work against you, your target may well be paying more than that for anti-virus updates and I agree with Mike here you could end up with a confusing array of versions. Our accounts package has this model and we did indeed stop paying them because the new features were of no use to us and the support that came with it was woeful.

Now I transplant it to 2011, It's the machine itself that would concern me, I'm small low volume and specialist.

There's me and maybe one or 2 others to design order pack test hand solder etc. So I'm going to use SM wherever I can as I don't have a £30k flo-wave machine? This however ups my lanes count, but its cheaper than another pair of hands.
 I assume this means what I'm doing is quite clever or some generic Chinese tat would be being modded putting me out of business. So I'm going to want use all sorts of parts because I have limited choices, quite possibly including fine pitch bga, 0402/0201 in 2mm index tapes etc. This means 60 odd 8mm lane slots and somewhere to put a waffle tray.
(based on the typical stuff I get asked to build these days of up to 30 8mm and a good scattering of 12 16 and 24mm tapes; having said that vivo say they have customers who only need 20 lanes because their designs are digital).
Probably a pipe dream but: As I'm low volume I'd rather not be spending £150 a go on a stencil, I want the machine to do it or at least it could be an option. ( Or indeed £1500 on the pasting system and £800 on the frame) Granted I might consider the £350 prototype stencil system.

Software, I'm small so my staff are few in number but skilled, perhaps not as great a need for muppet proofing as might otherwise be the case, so technical terminology is ok but it needs to be intuitive and a close to load->place as possible so I can do something else while it works.
It needs to take standard pick and place files.
I would be nice if it had a good way of handling complex panels, where one panel has multiple pcb's perhaps in different orientations.
Inventory control would be handy, or at least an end of job report detailing any parts attrition.
It has a camera, I want a software module that does basic (orientation etc) AOI just to make sure. But I can wait, that's cake icing.
It needs a small footprint because space is expensive, possibly I work in my garage or large shed.
It needs its own air supply
Be nice if it was quiet
It needs a support forum (because its 2011) so the community can help itself
A loan system for feeders we only need for one job
A service exchange program so a ready repaired working part can be sent out when something breaks
Offline programming so a new project can be setup and ready to go, or indeed a processing footprint and modus operandi that means the control software isn't on a dedicated machine but instead is on mine.

Am I now your target?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 06:14:53 PM

It is profitable (else I wouldn't do it) - but there isn't the sort of fat in the project to make it attractive to the big players. I have seen the car-parks of some of these companies.. neither will our sales team drive Porsches (you know who you are..).
Well my weakness here is I know sweet fa about how much mechanical stuff costs to make.
 I might have seen that car park, middle men are a significant issue in this market. And I suspect are the reason the low end machines look so poor against the bigger ones certainly you get way more bang per buck with the expensive machines.

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We plan on providing training but this will be at our factory, we will also offer to install your machine - although you can do it yourself.

On site training means the training can be done on an actual product, it also means its cost covers the expenses of one trainer not multiple trainees. Maybe the option of both would be good, I could see a lot of people wanting a quick introduction alongside installation. The right government grant can often mean this bit is paid for by someone else.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 06:20:19 PM
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It needs to take standard pick and place files.
which of course don't exist, so it must use open file formats to allow someone to write a utility to convert the output from any random PCB software to work. You could probably cover a reasonable range with some sort of scripting facility where you could tell it which fields to look at, which way the orientations work etc.
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It would be nice if it had a good way of handling complex panels, where one panel has multiple pcb's perhaps in different orientations.
That's just software  - if the system is open source, maybe a user will write this for you.
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It has a camera, I want a software module that does basic (orientation etc) AOI just to make sure. But I can wait, that's cake icing.

And if that camera can find and orient loose parts, even better. And find the pick points on feeders. Similarly, on an Open Source system , someone else might do this.
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It needs a small footprint because space is expensive, possibly I work in my garage or large shed.
It needs its own air supply
small is good, definitely table-top. Ideally no air requirement, which also helps with 'quiet'.
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It needs a support forum (because its 2011) so the community can help itself
A loan system for feeders we only need for one job
A service exchange program so a ready repaired working part can be sent out when something breaks
As well as parts and info readily available for user repairs. Schematics would be nice
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Offline programming so a new project can be setup and ready to go, or indeed a processing footprint and modus operandi that means the control software isn't on a dedicated machine but instead is on mine.

a no-brainer. Should have some graphic simulation/representation of board and parts so you could have high confidence the programming is right
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 06:25:33 PM
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On site training means the training can be done on an actual product, it also means its cost covers the expenses of one trainer not multiple trainees. Maybe the option of both would be good, I could see a lot of people wanting a quick introduction alongside installation. The right government grant can often mean this bit is paid for by someone else.
Why do you need on-site training? A system that is designed to be easy to set up & use to start with, plus a few good videos and a user forum should be all that's needed.
It's pretty important to be able to sell something niche like this to a worldwide market, an you want to avoid the cost increase of using local dealers, so something that can be shipped in a sensible sized box, installed, serviced and maintained by a typical end user means a lot of support infrastructure just isn't needed.
By all means sell a Skype support option...
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 06:31:47 PM
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Paying for upgrades is one thing, as long as it's not the sort of insidious model where the software stops working after a time period. I would never consider buying anything that worked like that.
That drives me nuts.

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However it does have the potential to get messy - some people will not upgrade, meaning there will be a mix of software versions out there, and if you need to release a fix for a serious bug (which users will not be happy paying for), things can quickly get messy.
One would hope that serious bugs would be spotted earlier in the cycle. Some sort of paid-for-annual-upgrade allows the development costs of later features (such as AOI) to be amortised across a wider group of machines, and avoids having to 'knobble' useful future features for some iterations.

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Another thing I always fell leaves a bad taste in the mouth is where companies sell hardware that is cripped and you then have to pay extra to use kit you already own (Agilent Scopes come to mind - paying for extra software functions is one thing, but having to pay to enable all the memory is taking the piss.
I heard Intel were doing something like that also with the lower-end processors. I'm not sure it's criminal but it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 06:44:00 PM

However it does have the potential to get messy - some people will not upgrade, meaning there will be a mix of software versions out there, and if you need to release a fix for a serious bug (which users will not be happy paying for), things can quickly get messy.
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One would hope that serious bugs would be spotted earlier in the cycle. Some sort of paid-for-annual-upgrade allows the development costs of later features (such as AOI) to be amortised across a wider group of machines, and avoids having to 'knobble' useful future features for some iterations.

Hope isn't exactly a great strategy... and you can never be guaranteed you won't get tripped up  by things like when Microsoft breaks something in a new version of Windoze or a security update.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 06:53:16 PM
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Ok if I go back to where we were 10 years ago when the RV machine did one or 2 things for us and one other customers products so effectively similar to a "little guy" in house line.  Forget the feeders, the niggles are not rocket science to get round and you could even argue that perhaps batch sizes here warranted most stuff going onto passive strip feeder holders. I am going to shrink the theoretical company because at 14-20 the real one is too big and a lot of it is full turnkey.

£60/year sounds low it may even be low enough to work against you, your target may well be paying more than that for anti-virus updates and I agree with Mike here you could end up with a confusing array of versions. Our accounts package has this model and we did indeed stop paying them because the new features were of no use to us and the support that came with it was woeful.

It would be more than £60, that is the figure I pay each summer for the latest version of Easy-PC.

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Now I transplant it to 2011, It's the machine itself that would concern me, I'm small low volume and specialist.

There's me and maybe one or 2 others to design order pack test hand solder etc. So I'm going to use SM wherever I can as I don't have a £30k flo-wave machine? This however ups my lanes count, but its cheaper than another pair of hands.
 I assume this means what I'm doing is quite clever or some generic Chinese tat would be being modded putting me out of business. So I'm going to want use all sorts of parts because I have limited choices, quite possibly including fine pitch bga, 0402/0201 in 2mm index tapes etc. This means 60 odd 8mm lane slots and somewhere to put a waffle tray.
(based on the typical stuff I get asked to build these days of up to 30 8mm and a good scattering of 12 16 and 24mm tapes; having said that vivo say they have customers who only need 20 lanes because their designs are digital).
Probably a pipe dream but: As I'm low volume I'd rather not be spending £150 a go on a stencil, I want the machine to do it or at least it could be an option. ( Or indeed £1500 on the pasting system and £800 on the frame) Granted I might consider the £350 prototype stencil system.
Feeder mix, types and qty's is always going to be an issue with smaller machines. Feeder rental/loan could help when really odd mixes are an issue. 0402 is definite, 0201 is possible with the design - but I haven't run 0201 yet.


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Software, I'm small so my staff are few in number but skilled, perhaps not as great a need for muppet proofing as might otherwise be the case, so technical terminology is ok but it needs to be intuitive and a close to load->place as possible so I can do something else while it works.

It needs to take standard pick and place files.
I would be nice if it had a good way of handling complex panels, where one panel has multiple pcb's perhaps in different orientations.
Inventory control would be handy, or at least an end of job report detailing any parts attrition.
It has a camera, I want a software module that does basic (orientation etc) AOI just to make sure. But I can wait, that's cake icing.
Software..

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It needs a small footprint because space is expensive, possibly I work in my garage or large shed.
Yes

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It needs its own air supply
Be nice if it was quiet
Yes, yes

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It needs a support forum (because its 2011) so the community can help itself
100% agree.

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A loan system for feeders we only need for one job
Yes. I can think of a bunch of jobs that I've done recently where that would have been VERY useful.

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A service exchange program so a ready repaired working part can be sent out when something breaks
Yes. Spares support with next day delivery - I had envisaged that since day1.

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Offline programming so a new project can be setup and ready to go, or indeed a processing footprint and modus operandi that means the control software isn't on a dedicated machine but instead is on mine.
The machine connects via a single USB port to a PC. The code is not locked to the PC. The plan is that off-line programming is effectively 'free' and you will be able to use it on any machine you like. You will need a USB feeder interface/PSU block (~£250) to do full off-line loading/setup of feeders at your desk, full support for barcode scanner from day1.

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Am I now your target?
Quite possibly - the funny thing is the projects code internal codename is "little-guy".
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 06:57:42 PM

It is profitable (else I wouldn't do it) - but there isn't the sort of fat in the project to make it attractive to the big players. I have seen the car-parks of some of these companies.. neither will our sales team drive Porsches (you know who you are..).
Well my weakness here is I know sweet fa about how much mechanical stuff costs to make.
 I might have seen that car park, middle men are a significant issue in this market. And I suspect are the reason the low end machines look so poor against the bigger ones certainly you get way more bang per buck with the expensive machines.

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We plan on providing training but this will be at our factory, we will also offer to install your machine - although you can do it yourself.

On site training means the training can be done on an actual product, it also means its cost covers the expenses of one trainer not multiple trainees. Maybe the option of both would be good, I could see a lot of people wanting a quick introduction alongside installation. The right government grant can often mean this bit is paid for by someone else.

Middle-men. We don't plan on having any middle-men in the UK. Period.

On-site training is more relevant if you train more than one person - good point.
Can be done on customers product - good point.
Can be paid for by grant - again good point (and not one that had crossed my mind, thanks).
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 07:22:39 PM
I'm not sure I NEED onsite training but I suspect someone might say I had to have it likewise the actual product, everyone thinks their baby is a special case. Personally an IRC channel & videos would be fine but everyone is different.

Perhaps I should have said common not standard pick and place files.

+1 to the loose parts finder

Database driven, making interfacing it with other software/things easy, potentially.

Yes even if fully closed source, schematics are important, without them we have to fall back on the support of the manufacturer who if small and hoping not to spend their lives helping us will be busy - selling new ones!

Its probable they would need to stock parts, taking the RV pump example its 4 times the price on short notice as going straight to source and waiting. Or the machine could come with a spares box option.

Would tabletop not create restrictions especially WRT feeders? If it's on is own pedestal then the waste tape can collect inside, no trip hazard. If it could flat pack shipping shouldn't be an issue.

Any commercial machine needs a  guinea pig, someone who can use it and provide feedback without a vested interest or the desire to make excuses for its shortcomings. Perhaps this is what went wrong with the RV shipping with those weird software bugs.

Don't get me wrong I love open source, I run CentOS as our server and Scalix for email, but there you have prime examples of it failing.
Am I paying RedHat? No it's big players who pay their bills which is why RedHat spend a lot buying the toys big boys want.
Am I paying Scalix? (ok that's pretend open source, you can't fork it and end up with.. well anything really)
Where is Centos 6? Can people join in and help it happen? (no it takes to much effort to teach them how)
Where is Scalix 11.5? For that matter where is parent company Xandros now Asus deprecated their distro from the eepc?

With a machine this complex I can see those who have the skillz becoming distracted or busy and moving on, its certainly a trait I see with developers I come across. These people are presumably consultants who will often have more lucrative work. I suppose the software could be split into sections so that other interested projects find it easier to cross develop, say vision, motor control, ui, etc some of these could be used for other open machine projects, I did see a totally dead looking AOI using canon camera project on sourceforge....
Windows or Linux?
How many people here or that you know of could help? I saw a similar project mooted elsewhere and all they got was don't be silly it can't be done, go away. In that instance it was a commercial project with very similar ambitions and target pricing to fcb.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 07:45:10 PM
Yes even if fully closed source, schematics are important, without them we have to fall back on the support of the manufacturer who if small and hoping not to spend their lives helping us will be busy - selling new ones!

Its probable they would need to stock parts, taking the RV pump example its 4 times the price on short notice as going straight to source and waiting. Or the machine could come with a spares box option.
..of course everything should be as off-the-shelf as possible to minimise custom parts  e.g. USB camera(s) - in the above case I think putting the RV pump in the arm didn't really make sense- it constrains size, increases weight and it doesn't really need to be in there.   
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Would tabletop not create restrictions especially WRT feeders? If it's on is own pedestal then the waste tape can collect inside, no trip hazard. If it could flat pack shipping shouldn't be an issue.

maybe - I was just thinking for both ship size and flexibility of installation - obviously depends on feeder design how practical this is. Maybe base it on an Ikea table that can be sourced locally ;D
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Any commercial machine needs a  guinea pig, someone who can use it and provide feedback without a vested interest or the desire to make excuses for its shortcomings. Perhaps this is what went wrong with the RV shipping with those weird software bugs.

I doubt you'd have problems finding a few beta users
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With a machine this complex I can see those who have the skillz becoming distracted or busy and moving on, its certainly a trait I see with developers I come across.
I'd dispute that it actually is all that complex. There are ready-made libraries for the trickiest part, the vision  everything else is a bunch of individually simple tasks strung together. 
The crucial key is getting the software architecture right to begin with, and making it nicely modular so different parts can be done independently.
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Windows or Linux?
Probably Windows, because it is more standardised and more people know it. Anyone who is religiously anti-Windows can always buy a dedicated Netbook for 200 quid. Fortunately I doubt many people would want to run a P&P on a Mac, but I bet you'd get some requests...
How many people here or that you know of could help? I saw a similar project mooted elsewhere and all they got was don't be silly it can't be done, go away.
Never listen to anyone who say things can't be done unless they can give some really good arguments. It usually means they lack imagination.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 07:59:58 PM
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I'm not sure I NEED onsite training but I suspect someone might say I had to have it likewise the actual product, everyone thinks their baby is a special case. Personally an IRC channel & videos would be fine but everyone is different.
When I bought a new machining centre about 18months ago it came with 2 days training at a training centre - by the time I got round to going I needn't have bothered.

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Perhaps I should have said common not standard pick and place files.
What are the file formats people prefer.

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+1 to the loose parts finder
An advanced feature that will have to come in later code versions.

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Database driven, making interfacing it with other software/things easy, potentially.
My prototype uses a simple CSV file for the placement locations. Component images are stored for debugging (like the RV).

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Yes even if fully closed source, schematics are important, without them we have to fall back on the support of the manufacturer who if small and hoping not to spend their lives helping us will be busy - selling new ones!
Mechanical exploded drawings are a must. Circuit schematics/harness drawings too.

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Its probable they would need to stock parts, taking the RV pump example its 4 times the price on short notice as going straight to source and waiting. Or the machine could come with a spares box option.
Agree - main spares are really only seals, belts and perhaps pumps. And every part will have ex-stock spares.

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Would tabletop not create restrictions especially WRT feeders? If it's on is own pedestal then the waste tape can collect inside, no trip hazard. If it could flat pack shipping shouldn't be an issue.
The only reason not to go 'table top' is the feeder exits. I wanted to avoid the expensive of a pedestal. This will have to be revisted later I suspect.

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Any commercial machine needs a  guinea pig, someone who can use it and provide feedback without a vested interest or the desire to make excuses for its shortcomings. Perhaps this is what went wrong with the RV shipping with those weird software bugs.
Beta-testing, yes valid point. Nearer the time I guess we will have several machines available to do beta-testing.

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With a machine this complex I can see those who have the skillz becoming distracted or busy and moving on, its certainly a trait I see with developers I come across. These people are presumably consultants who will often have more lucrative work. I suppose the software could be split into sections so that other interested projects find it easier to cross develop, say vision, motor control, ui, etc some of these could be used for other open machine projects, I did see a totally dead looking AOI using canon camera project on sourceforge....
Perhaps another reason not to go OS.

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Windows or Linux?
Windows

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How many people here or that you know of could help? I saw a similar project mooted elsewhere and all they got was don't be silly it can't be done, go away. In that instance it was a commercial project with very similar ambitions and target pricing to fcb.
By it's nature, building P&P appeals to the kinds of people that need P&P. I feel that the difference is that I could have afforded something like the TWS Quadra or similar, but never felt that it was value-for-money.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes) OS
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 08:20:16 PM
so openCV for vision
I suppose you can borrow heavily from open source robots and robot wars for the gantry control?
I don't see an open source gantry/cartesian robot, so that you have to make, as with the feeders?
The frontend, not so much complex as requiring the most thought, it needs consistency and the bare minimum of dialogue boxes and weird data entry windows.
project management.
Camera's: cheap usb webcams probably won't cut the mustard (unless there are known good ones) their focal lengths are not exactly rock solid and the models go out of fashion quicker than H&M. You need something you can rely on to stay the same, unless the software can calibrate itself to whatever is fitted. I think you can still buy RV cameras even now, tho' you likely wouldn't want to.

Looks like you are itching to get started!
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 08:34:06 PM
We went and looked at the Quadra and it was a "oh, is that it?" kind of feeling especially with its price tag, at the time Blundell's other option was an M4, which has the opposite response, "what the hell would I want that for?"

If it can be delivered at your target price I could see sub-con people buying it to stick in the corner for things that do not warrant loading the 12k cph machine.

Good luck, when do we get to see it?

Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 08:47:50 PM
I wrote the machine vision myself from scratch.  It is so intrinsic to the very fibre of the machine that I felt it was the only way to truly understand it.

Cameras have been an issue, but I think we have solved that.  The longevity/availabilty and lens quality being the keys.  It is surprising that if you get the lens, lighting and software right, you don't actually need mega-high resl.

Started - apart from getting the feeders right (minor - ha!) and re-designing the software front end, we're largely done.

Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 26, 2011, 08:54:10 PM
We went and looked at the Quadra and it was a "oh, is that it?" kind of feeling especially with its price tag, at the time Blundell's other option was an M4, which has the opposite response, "what the hell would I want that for?"
I have to say that I liked the apparent simplicity of the Quadra, just felt it wasn't worth it for the money. It also shook alot when placing (but it did manage to place correctly), and I'm not a fan of linear guides epoxied to folded sheet metal..

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If it can be delivered at your target price I could see sub-con people buying it to stick in the corner for things that do not warrant loading the 12k cph machine.
Perhaps, although they aren't my main targets - but it had crossed my mind.

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Good luck, when do we get to see it?
It may be worth inviting a few people down in the next couple of months for opinions/demo.


[/quote]
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 09:02:39 PM


Started - apart from getting the feeders right (minor - ha!)


Well I only meant in so much as you have 20+ years of other people mistakes to learn from by looking at them, what with them being physical. For your price point I'm sure the RV feeders are quite good enough I'm putting things though my RV that might involve me changing some reels 3 times over the job run but that's a whole different kettle of fish, I think.
Certainly if we go back 10 years the odd 10 minutes swearing at a feeder wasn't a problem and its even less of a problem when you have paid for an unashamed ultra low volume prototyper with no pretensions.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 09:05:29 PM
Hell yes, the wobbling alarmed me.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 09:11:50 PM
Camera's: cheap usb webcams probably won't cut the mustard (unless there are known good ones) their focal lengths are not exactly rock solid and the models go out of fashion quicker than H&M.
Even an expensive USB camera is like £50. There is a standard for generic USB cameras so you shouldn't be constrained to a particular model, or even resolution. Another option is cctv type cams and a video-capture device, as on the RV, but I don't think the resolution is quite up to the job.  
Lens quality and close-up focussing is an issue but you could probably use something like a standard 12mm CCTV lens with a tweaked lens-sensor distance and fix up the geometry errors in software.
All you need do is supply an accurately printed calibration grid fixed to a nozzle as a cal tool.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 09:13:03 PM
It may be worth inviting a few people down in the next couple of months for opinions/demo.
Whereabouts is 'down'?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 26, 2011, 09:41:39 PM
http://www.ntscope.com/SX1000.html like this but without the comical fishing weights on feeders? And from what I have read, utterly dire software.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 26, 2011, 11:15:13 PM
Although the fishing weights are a bit of a joke, the principle of using the head to advance the tape is an interesting way to save feeder cost, and doesn't preclude the use of active feeders as well, providing an upgrade route from a low entry cost.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 27, 2011, 12:13:20 AM
Started - apart from getting the feeders right (minor - ha!) and re-designing the software front end, we're largely done.
A few random thoughts/suggestions  based on RV annoyances amongst others :
SO's can come in tape or tube, so you need a 'placement-time' way to easily swap the rotation accordingly without messing with multiple part defs. Similarly you may find different makes of parts needing different vision parameters. Maybe the answer is that parts may have multiple variants that can be selected at the start of placement.

Feeder index numbers should be associated with the part def, not the feeder setup.
It should  be possible to train the vision by showing it a part instead of manually entering dimensions.
It should have an option to not automatically reset the job when it thinks it's completed, as you may have omitted parts or feeders that you want to place afterwards for various reasons.
There should be a way to specify placement order - for very dense boards you want to place taller parts after smaller ones, but there may be other reasons.
You should be able to pause placement at any time and tweak vision parameters with minimum effort. Ditto feeder positions and anything else you may see going wrong during placement. It should be possible to tell it to move on to other feeders while you de-jam/reload the current one - maybe a "pause feeder" type  button for each feeder. Similarly it should be quick & easy to manually index any feeder at any time. You probably want a graphical display of feeders showing status and pause/index/refill buttons for each lane.

Step/repeat should probably be done at the placement stage rather than at job setup, this makes things like dealing with panel cross-outs and test builds easier.
Local fiducials for fine-pitch packages.

Should be possible to import fiducial positions from P&P data - I do this in my PCAD->TFR file  importer with a special 'fid' component which comprises the pad & a P&P point.

A paste dispensing add-on option is highly desirable for a low-end machine - if people are buying for fast turnaround, not having to wait for stencils is good.

Anyone should be able to download and try the software in offline mode to see if it suits their needs. Similarly on no account should a forum be limited to owners - user forums are an extremely useful tool in evaluating potential purchases, both in terms of product performance and manufacturer reaction to issues.   
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: SteveW on March 27, 2011, 01:07:23 AM
It should  be possible to train the vision by showing it a part instead of manually entering dimensions.

Yes. oh yes. I shall be asking dumb questions tomorrow, on this subject. I'm confused. Likewise, components rotated compared to the pick'n'place file. Am I doomed to my leds being forever backwards?

Step/repeat should probably be done at the placement stage rather than at job setup, this makes things like dealing with panel cross-outs and test builds easier.

Yes. For a prototype shop, being able to include, or drop, boards from a panel, is deeply handy.

A paste dispensing add-on option is highly desirable for a low-end machine - if people are buying for fast turnaround, not having to wait for stencils is good.

I can see the benefit. I can also see the doom. Are paste dispensers worth the effort? They seem to be regarded as evil by many. Is this because they're slow and not as good as a real stainless stencil, knocking out 1000 panels an hour, or because they can't do 10 successive 0603s? (I genuinely don't know. Stencils work for me, and have lead times comparable to PCBs.)

Anyone should be able to download and try the software in offline mode to see if it suits their needs. Similarly on no account should a forum be limited to owners - user forums are an extremely useful tool in evaluating potential purchases, both in terms of product performance and manufacturer reaction to issues.

Yes. Software is key. If i hadn't seen the Versatronic stuff before I bought, it would just have been a punt on a pile of hardware from which I might have been able to build a machine. As it is, it's been useful. not yet profitable, but that's this month's invoicing run... And this forum, well, it's been a sanity saver, especially for a product that's unloved by its manufacturer.

[/quote]
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on March 27, 2011, 02:04:18 AM
Quote
Yes. oh yes. I shall be asking dumb questions tomorrow, on this subject. I'm confused. Likewise, components rotated compared to the pick'n'place file. Am I doomed to my leds being forever backwards?
That's mostly about getting your libraries the right way round, and more important, in a consistent orientation. SOs are a bugger due to the tape-or-tube twist so you end up having two parts for the different rotation.
 
Quote
A paste dispensing add-on option is highly desirable for a low-end machine - if people are buying for fast turnaround, not having to wait for stencils is good.
Quote
I can see the benefit. I can also see the doom. Are paste dispensers worth the effort? They seem to be regarded as evil by many. Is this because they're slow and not as good as a real stainless stencil, knocking out 1000 panels an hour, or because they can't do 10 successive 0603s? (I genuinely don't know. Stencils work for me, and have lead times comparable to PCBs.)
I wouldn't  advocate dispensing for anything more than very low volumes & protos. It's as much about cost as leadtime, although I have in the past made a homebrew PCB, hand-pasted, P&P'd a couple of hundred parts all in 2 hours. Dispensing systems are by no means perfect unless you can afford an auger based head, but are cheap and simple, and all it takes to turn a P&P into a dispenser is a mounting point, a trigger signal and some software, so worth thinking about.
And of course once you have that you can do glue dots, and potentially also do all sorts of other auto-dispensing tasks that may not involve a PCB at all.  
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 27, 2011, 05:14:40 PM
Some random idea's
I would drop the RV approach of 3 apps to get things done. One control program with 3 distinct stages within it.

1: create or select the project.

2: step and repeat parameters, the ability to say you are just doing the one non-panelled board this time, without then losing step and repeat settings.

3: place, with a nice GUI much like the RV, however in this instance each pcb within the panel should be clearly distinguishable so you can tell it if some are crossed out. Maybe the pcb images on the grid could in fact be buttons with a clear active and inactive state. Be nice to be able to reassign feeders or indeed decide you are placing something after all at this stage, or indeed switch from so8 in a tape to a tube because that's what you have.

Error rates, it needs to track both repeat pick/place issues and  the rate they happen at, specified parameters for each should cause the feeder to passed over, if those parts are next to something tall, the tall thing should be passed over too. A nice flashy light would be nice either on a stick the feeder or both.
What the problem was - imaging or pick should be displayed in a feeder status box

Big monitors are cheap; might as well make the most of all that space and have as much data as possible up there. So panel graphics, feeder status, time done, time remaining, parts used, probable attrition etc

Place order should be shortest first by default, overrides should be possible for odd requirements, and feeder locations should probably be suggested for parts where it will make a difference. This does depend on bank size and changeover time tho', if it take 10mins to move reel its unlikely you'll get it back in a small batch.

The SO packaging problem, unless I am mistaken SO's are always one way in a tube and the other in a tape
(the exception here seems to be sot223 and DPAK if they are made by IR who do things their own way) so as long as the software knows this it could automatically adjust accordingly, it clearly knows the feeder type.

PCB counter, I get tired of counting PCBs by hand especially panels with crossouts.

Some features like training a part or indexing a feeder should be available in all stages
You need to be able to go back one stage (to tweak) without the machine going through some ridiculous park and reset routine

Tube feeders - tombstoning, jamming, stacking on top of each other are all significant issues with a vibratory system, any cunning way of keeping these at a minimum could well be handy, I assume cost means special mechanics are out as is air but special adaptors that clip on the ends of the tubes so the pick area is exactly the size it should be could help.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 27, 2011, 05:34:44 PM
Although the fishing weights are a bit of a joke, the principle of using the head to advance the tape is an interesting way to save feeder cost, and doesn't preclude the use of active feeders as well, providing an upgrade route from a low entry cost.
It's quite a good way. Apparently it's patented in the US (although I found no relevant patent after a long search).
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 27, 2011, 06:11:35 PM
Quote
A few random thoughts/suggestions  based on RV annoyances amongst others :
SO's can come in tape or tube, so you need a 'placement-time' way to easily swap the rotation accordingly without messing with multiple part defs. Similarly you may find different makes of parts needing different vision parameters. Maybe the answer is that parts may have multiple variants that can be selected at the start of placement.
Some sort of taxonomic function, eg: FAMILY=SO8, GENUS=LM358D, SPECIES=ST/MALAYSIA/TUBE/90DEG
With the ability to create new species with a couple of button presses. Vision parameters would be SPECIES specific.
"Placement/Pick" list would only need to state the GENUS.
As the machine goes down the list, it could then look to current state of the feeders to find the nearest match.
On screen PLAY/STOP/PAUSE buttons and the ability to run the machine in SIMULATION (for checking the programming) or SEMI mode, that would automatically pause before picking the part, pause again when it had put the part over the centring camera (allows for tweaking component rotation and vision parameters live).
If the "placement/pick" list was on screen and you could interact with it more or less 'live'.

Quote
Feeder index numbers should be associated with the part def, not the feeder setup.
Yes.

Quote
It should  be possible to train the vision by showing it a part instead of manually entering dimensions.
Yes, but probably later code version.

Quote
It should have an option to not automatically reset the job when it thinks it's completed, as you may have omitted parts or feeders that you want to place afterwards for various reasons.
Partial build is essential - it's pretty much how I do things now as I'm not that organised (I tend to program CNC on-the-fly also).

Quote
There should be a way to specify placement order - for very dense boards you want to place taller parts after smaller ones, but there may be other reasons.
Component height is a parameter presently used, no reason why in the "optimiser" component height should not have a priority option.

Quote
You should be able to pause placement at any time and tweak vision parameters with minimum effort. Ditto feeder positions and anything else you may see going wrong during placement. It should be possible to tell it to move on to other feeders while you de-jam/reload the current one - maybe a "pause feeder" type  button for each feeder. Similarly it should be quick & easy to manually index any feeder at any time. You probably want a graphical display of feeders showing status and pause/index/refill buttons for each lane.
See previous comments.

Quote
Step/repeat should probably be done at the placement stage rather than at job setup, this makes things like dealing with panel cross-outs and test builds easier.
Yes. I visualised something like BATCH>PANEL>BOARD hierachy with the ability to remove faulty boards (cross-outs) from individual panels. EG: You if you had a BATCH of 5 panels (20 circuits per panel), you could define that circuits #7,8,12 on panel#3 and circuit #13 on panel#5 where faulty before placement began - because if like me you switch into 'robot' mode and tend not to like thinking (especially if answering emails, writing code, listening to R4, soldering thru-hole etc...)

Quote
Local fiducials for fine-pitch packages.
Yes

Quote
Should be possible to import fiducial positions from P&P data - I do this in my PCAD->TFR file  importer with a special 'fid' component which comprises the pad & a P&P point.
Will try and bear in mind that there's more than one way to enter fiducials and that local's are very important too.

Quote
A paste dispensing add-on option is highly desirable for a low-end machine - if people are buying for fast turnaround, not having to wait for stencils is good.
I hate paste dispensers. Perhaps i'll leave hooks in the hardware for this, but not an option at launch.

Quote
Anyone should be able to download and try the software in offline mode to see if it suits their needs. Similarly on no account should a forum be limited to owners - user forums are an extremely useful tool in evaluating potential purchases, both in terms of product performance and manufacturer reaction to issues.
Agree, that and lots of videos, forums agree.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on March 27, 2011, 10:58:30 PM

Quote
Step/repeat should probably be done at the placement stage rather than at job setup, this makes things like dealing with panel cross-outs and test builds easier.
Yes. I visualised something like BATCH>PANEL>BOARD hierachy with the ability to remove faulty boards (cross-outs) from individual panels. EG: You if you had a BATCH of 5 panels (20 circuits per panel), you could define that circuits #7,8,12 on panel#3 and circuit #13 on panel#5 where faulty before placement began - because if like me you switch into 'robot' mode and tend not to like thinking (especially if answering emails, writing code, listening to R4, soldering thru-hole etc...)
[/quote]

I might still be pasting the panels while the machine gets going on the first so I might not yet know the precise order they are going into the machine, so I would want the ability to denote a crossout on the fly. But the ability to do it before hand is still useful as quite often issues at the PCB shop do seem to be the same pcb in a panel over and over.

Hmmm ah yes robot mode, here's some of mine. That cause me to make paranoid checks on what I just did..

Take a pcb out and put a loaded one back in, or press place again without removing the board. Don't do it often (usually when multitasking, or I have to grab a board off the oven conveyor) but damn is it annoying when I do.

Load a board with symmetrical Fiducials 180degrees out, oops! maybe use a track image locally as well to check....

Take a board out and then realise it hadn't finished, there were errors, no idea how to stop someone like me doing this and its minor as you realise soon enough.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on March 29, 2011, 10:27:23 PM
Thanks all those that have contributed so far.

I've got some prototyping going on with a new feeder design, when a bit closer I'm sure they'll be a bunch more q's.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 06, 2011, 07:04:44 PM
Got delivery today of new solenoid sample (custom made) for the new feeder design.  For the p/type we have selected a design similar (thanks to all those contributors earlier) to the Versatronic units but with:

10 lane solenoid/pins/stepper driven linear mechanism.
Simplified design with only two main CNC machined parts (intrinsically aligned)
Individual cover tape peel mechanisms per lane (8mm std - designed to mix and match 16mm etc..) sizes.
Tape pull, rather than push.

Servicing of feeder blocks should be VERY straightforward, and if pins wear-out then they can be replaced quickly (easily). Also, you should be able to change an individual lane easily without removing the feeder bank.
At present the lane pitch is 12mm (up from the Versatronic's slim 10mm).

We should have a fully working p/type in the fairly near future, which I would welcome criticism on.


Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on April 06, 2011, 07:53:15 PM
What would be nice is a few adjustable lanes that could do 12-32mm as required, either with movable guides or alternate rails.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 10:39:13 PM
Are there many adjustable feeders out there? Only machine I can find that has such a desirable feature is the Versatec C5, which seems odd given that almost nobody wants to rent you a feeder either so if you want something just the once it really has to pay.

I can see that extra 2mm being a great help with the fiddlyness
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 10:51:33 PM
ermm Feeders… so there are good bits and bad bits.. Adjustable….Hmmmmm wonder why no one does them… its cos at £190-£250 its really better to buy them… and know that they will work..

I am happy to rent feeders for the vivo… its not a problem if thats what you want.. ill do it for 12,16,24 and above.



Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 10:57:04 PM
 And this forum, well, it's been a sanity saver, especially for a product that's unloved by its manufacturer.

[/quote]
[/quote]

To clarify. its is not unloved by the manufacturer. At that company ceased trading in 2002.  Paul Mills who designed the RV put his heart soul and finances in to the RV. Unfortunately too many people thought that the ongoing support and  development of the machine should be done for free.. And weren't prepared to back the maker of the machine when times got tight…So it left him with little option. VSMT put a further 8 years in to backing it up from then on.. I don't think unloved can be aimed at the RV at all. its a great machine and still is.. Vivo is quite happy to work with  any… Any … RV user who wants to upgrade.

in 2002 the rv4 was £24,000 now the VIVO is £28000. it is faster, quicker to set up and more powerful…
and compatible with RV programs.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 10:58:56 PM
Yours may be that acceptable sum, but while I haven't done my quote requests yet, I do recall the gargantuan prices some of the larger feeders were on a certain other machine and indeed the prices 2nd hand on Shawline. If all say a 32mm feeder is doing is putting down 1 SM connector on a batch of 100 boards, the tweezer will win.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 11:03:53 PM
ok lets clarify.. intelligent feeders.. no setup during run , placement and component data stored in the feeder.

8mm              £190 handles any 8mm tape from 0201
12mm            £230
16mm            £260
24mm            £290
any vibe unit   £250

go compare…. :D
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 11:05:01 PM
Interesting, were those that paid (as we did for some years) a rare breed? TBH I don't think not paying was even considered until what you were able to offer changed and that's not your fault it's just the poor thing is old. For the money the machine gave us proper SM capability that is essential to I think every single sub-con customer we have on our books and a good proportion of our own product. Without it I doubt I'd have a job, I hope fcb's machine can do the same for someone else, in fact I can think of someone who came to see us once who would be better off with that than attempting to sub-con a product that was impossible to cost.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 11:06:48 PM
yeah see those are sensible prices, I seem to remember holding a price list from someone else where 24mm ran north of £1000
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 11:10:15 PM
or if you went with a 2nd user mydete machine you might find a 24mm feeder was around £4K im told.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 11:13:50 PM
And I want at least 3 and preferably 5+, oh the pain, yeah won't be doing that.
 Anyhow we should stop hijacking this thread, I have sleep to do, got to keep the mind fresh for grilling those suits on Tuesday about their shiny machines. Top question what with all you guy making machines and feeders that top out at 12mm? I saw a teardown of an early Apple from 1981 or so the other day and even it had SM Elec's its not like they're ground breaking.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 11:17:17 PM
Interesting, were those that paid (as we did for some years) a rare breed?

TBH those that did commit made the right move.. They saw the importance of the product to their business.. not everyone has the time to DIY the machine..
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on April 06, 2011, 11:23:13 PM
In terms of adjustable feeders, it would make a lot of sense for the larger, less common sizes, maybe 16mm & over. The main reason larger feeders are more expensive is that fewer are made - the build cost isn't going to be much more (unless they're machined out of solid block of the tape width!), so the economies of scale making a single unit that could cover 16-32mm may work out pretty well.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 06, 2011, 11:41:30 PM
Presumably it would occupy the space of it's largest setting regardless so you would not want too many?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 06, 2011, 11:46:35 PM
good point Gopher.. and Mike too.. so thats why the cost uplift on the bigger feeders is kept to a minimum to make the purchase price acceptable and at the same time not to occupy to many slots!! perfect balance.

the VIVO feeders have the same internals. so the price increase is to cover the cost of the extra aluminium. the build time is the same. so that way the customer gets the best deal.. We price our feeders so that they are affordable.  Also you can swap them from machine to machine and all the params are transported so that the parts in them are ready to roll what ever VIVO they are placed on...
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head http://electricstuff.co.wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 06, 2011, 11:54:25 PM
I remember asking a company why their vibe feeder was so expensive - they said it was so they could offer a big discount on it...

I've gone for banked feeders as I feel:
1. Most of my customers will need at least 10 lanes of 8mm.
2. It's the only way to get the feeders in at something between £50-100 per lane/equivalent (my target - not an aspersion on other brands!)
3. The pitch on singles would be (at least) 12mm, I think 16mm is more common.

NB: I've considered that dumb feeders like madell can be made for less than £50/lane..
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 07, 2011, 12:06:29 AM
Ben you must be an elephant with a memory like that! :D
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 12:12:41 AM
Ben you must be an elephant with a memory like that! :D
I think I've been careful not say which companies or hint at which companies have said/quoted what.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 07, 2011, 12:13:36 AM
its fairly obvious…. ;D
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 12:15:15 AM
its fairly obvious…. ;D
That'll be the Porsche jibe then.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 07, 2011, 12:16:18 AM
No… well before that….
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 12:23:48 AM
davidc: So for the record, do you think there is no market for a quality sub £10k machine?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: davidc on April 07, 2011, 12:33:20 AM
well….how many sub 10k machines are there?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 07, 2011, 08:39:36 AM
I don't know if the Maddels quite break that barrier but they are lieing little ****, look up videos for SMTmax and its prety clear they have just rebadged the entire range. Maddel don't even try in their own videos, there is chinese on the buttons for starters.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on April 07, 2011, 09:09:38 AM
I don't doubt there is a market, probably more so than when the RV came out, although I doubt there is any way to assess the size of it without just doing it. Just because here is nothing out there at the moment doesn't mean there is no demand (although it might!). Used RVs still seem to sell, so some people are  buying in this price range.

At the lower end of the market , the purchasing criteria are likely to be very different to those for higher-end machines  - e.g. people wanting to do stuff in-house for flexibility and fast  turnaround rather than production cost.
However to make it commercially viable  may need a more novel  business model and some clever thinking.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 07, 2011, 09:20:34 AM
A tie in with david, for a good price on a a vivo when or if they outgrow yours ;), a feeder base module that lets you use davids feeders............
A manual placer that uses your feeders
An 'assisted' version of the same.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 09:20:52 AM
I don't know if the Maddels quite break that barrier but they are lieing little ****, look up videos for SMTmax and its prety clear they have just rebadged the entire range. Maddel don't even try in their own videos, there is chinese on the buttons for starters.

I'm not clear on Madell - are they related to SMTmax, are they the same company? Also, they do seem to have *alot* of different model numbers and there appears to be some reuse of model numbers (or perhaps it's just some are raw metal, others anodised). I've seen some very similar units also with yet another supplier name on it (can't remember who).

From a price POV it's hard to see why their (Madell) units are so expensive - they don't look like good value-for-money even at £10k, although I've heard that they do work.

As far as our machines price - I'm quite comfortable with the <£10K point; we can increase speed/feeders/board size later for more £ if we want to.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 09:28:05 AM
A tie in with david, for a good price on a a vivo when or if they outgrow yours ;), a feeder base module that lets you use davids feeders............
A manual placer that uses your feeders
An 'assisted' version of the same.
Hmm, I'm sure if we are successful with ours we will see a shrunken version of the Vivo (400-500mm) and a banked feeder block for £?. Which will then prove that I was right and needn't have bothered going to all the trouble. ;D
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 07, 2011, 10:19:01 AM
Tsssssssss! He's not looking that interested and anyway he's busy doing my 696 quote and a proforma for some nozzles........

Not that I'm a huge fan of rabid capitalism but there is the general rule that you charge what the market will stand ( we don't all live by it) and £20k+ easily pays for itself with even quite low volumes which means the market can stand it. Would Vivo's tech really scale down by 1/2 and would it be worth David's time selling something that has a lower margin for him when he seems quite busy enough with what he has?
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: fcb on April 07, 2011, 08:16:34 PM
Tsssssssss! He's not looking that interested and anyway he's busy doing my 696 quote and a proforma for some nozzles........

Not that I'm a huge fan of rabid capitalism but there is the general rule that you charge what the market will stand ( we don't all live by it) and £20k+ easily pays for itself with even quite low volumes which means the market can stand it. Would Vivo's tech really scale down by 1/2 and would it be worth David's time selling something that has a lower margin for him when he seems quite busy enough with what he has?

Well I guess I'll find out if there's a market at the lower price point soon enough.  I'm aiming at the little-guy and whilst £20k+ may pay easily for the 'constantly busy' little-guy or small sub-contractor doesn't mean that they should have to pay £20k+ (and it's the '+' that matters!).

A program on Radio4 ('In-business') a few years ago was talking to some telecoms guy in India.  He was saying something to the effect that their customers (often remote farmers) didn't need cast-off Western mobile technologies, but they needed the state-of-the-art phones that had the best battery life, cameras, speed, robust designs so they could achieve the best spot prices on crops, diagnose arable (and livestock) problems, help educate their kids, etc... They also had to be cheap.

I'm actually thinking along these lines a bit, I think the 'little-guy' needs a machine that can do everything they need, fast to setup, quiet (as they might be sitting close by), robust (so they can physically move it), quick to rent/cost-effective to buy extra 'odd-ball' feeders, high resale value, run QFN/BGA if they need, fast to service, etc... and ultimately low-cost to buy.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 07, 2011, 10:44:22 PM
I was mainly thinking it's one thing for you to create this machine and sell it using whatever model, but quite another for david to cut down his and follow you in.

Do you have any plans for the rest of the process?  Manual stencil printers are quite expensive and not really that clever. The same could be said for ovens especially batch ones which I guess is what one would partner this with.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 08, 2011, 12:44:09 PM
I believe  the statistic is 67% of surface mount problems occur at the pasting stage, then there's storage and placement and the rest is reflow.

Even the little guy this machine is targeted at might find a toaster oven is not quite what they need. I'm pretty sure if we had one I'd have killed a few boards by forgetting them :).  The first issue is throughput, what can you get through yours? The second is covering your behind. When certain of our customers come across a problem they don't check their own design or software, they throw their toys out of the pram and blame us, having the equipment and data to say "no way, Jose" is invaluable.

That's not to say it's not perfectly good enough for a sizeable number of people who are making very small batches.

When we got the RV it sometimes did weeks at a time of nothing, then 20 boards. Still had a proper stencil and still had the oven, in fact the oven was here first from the pure manual P&P days.
Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on April 08, 2011, 01:42:51 PM
I'm not saying reflow doesn't need to be addressed, just that cheap, reliable stencil printing is a higher priority as it is more critical to quality and there are already several very cheap, available  & useable reflow options available.
Throughput isn't high (but no worse than any batch oven), but that's not likely to be a big issue at the low end, and you can always buy multiple cheap toaster ovens for a fraction of the cost of a 'proper' oven.
A simple alarm timer helps avoid the board melting issue - reflow times are of the order where it is very easy to get distracted. I did once did forget a board for a coupel of minutes but it survives, although looks a little darker than the others in the batch!


Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Gopher on April 08, 2011, 02:54:15 PM
What a sigh of relief that must have been.
The ability to use "elemental?" or freebie stencils I would guess is most easily solved by making a standardish frame  based clamping and tensioning system to hold them. That would leave the base/table/whatever flexible enough to hold some common frame sizes. I believe some of the prototype pcb shops now do cut cost reusable frame systems of some form. Maybe that bit would then be an optional extra.

 The Elektor one seems a sensible enough design but I kinda want the top half and it needs to be bigger, 450mm both ways would be better.

Title: Re: Feeders, new hardware (split from Head wiping tapes)
Post by: Mike on April 09, 2011, 05:20:59 PM
As far as toaster ovens - those T962's on ebay look good value, any experience with them?
I've read a few reports of spontaneous combustion... Construction appears to involve what appears to be masking tape. From what I've read performance is somewhat patchy, especially towards the edges. I bought one a while ago but didn't like the lack of good visibilty so haven't used it in anger as I trust the combination of eyeballs and toaster oven more :
(http://cpc.farnell.com/productimages/farnell/standard/OE05571-40.jpg)

Having said that they seem to be popular with people reflowing dodgy Playstation BGAs...
Here are some internal pics  (http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/reflowoven.html)