Author Topic: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted  (Read 30123 times)

George04

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Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« on: August 01, 2011, 04:37:29 AM »
Hi
I am now in the market for a PnP machine for in house prototyping and short runs only. My budget can't stretch to a new machine but I could afford a s/h Versatronics type machine based on the ebay pricing record. Does anyone have such a machine for sale. Anything considered. I don't mind a challenge!
Regards
George

Gopher

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 11:34:55 AM »
They pop up for sale from the std broker suspects with some regularity, they are largely purchased by people such as yourself.
We have not yet decided what we will do with ours when we replace it, but it might become available towards the end of the year.
I would make extra sure you know what you can and cannot achieve with such a machine. I am as accurate on the manual pick and place as our RV4, but its much quicker (x3-4) and never makes mistakes. However there is not much that can go wrong with a manual P&P, but then even they are not cheap.
With an RV4 if something goes wrong you are largely on your own, Phono can help you with a few select parts he has reverse engineered but there are plenty of other parts he can't help you with. David Clements has the know how and access to parts but he is largely focused on his new machine and those few who got onto his remaining support contract slots, if you end up needing him and he has the time it will cost you about 50% of what you might pay for a machine.
Plenty of DIY/Developers who have these are running them for  a week or 2 a month, maybe you should ask about sharing one?
What do you consider a small batch?
Which issues are scaring you off Sub-contract? SteveW on here for instance is getting his  bare boards turned round in 2 days, picking them up himself and then building them, that's hard to compete with (how hard depends on who is kitting, how accurate the info is, and what other work the sub-con is doing), with a slightly longer lead time it gets easier to find a slot to put small jobs into and there are lots of people out there who do that.
Obviously a lot depends on how you value your own time, how much of that you have to spare and how reliant you are likely to become any machine you buy


Ed

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 04:52:45 PM »
I have one for sale. PM me  :)

George04

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 01:03:22 AM »
Hi Gopher,
Thanks for your input.
I am not really familiar with the std broker suspects and the RV series but I expect I might have some contact as a result of this thread.
The YouTube video by our host has revived my interest in the Versatronics machines which for me started around 1989/90 when it had not yet become a SMT PnP machine. The specifications that I have managed to dig up fom this forum and Google would lead me to believe that it would make a good intro machine for SMT PnP for the money.
I do understand that I will be on my own when it comes to maintenance, spares etc as my understanding is that the machine is no longer directly supported. That is the risk of buying older machines.
Older PCs maintenance and PC software is not a problem for me but I take your pont re. proprietary Versatronics board assemblies with closed source firmware.
It will be used to prototype half eurocard SMT boards perhaps to a maximum of five or ten.  In the past (thru hole and SMT parts) I would buy say five  boards and stuff them by any means, test and then subcontract the final production board to a 'proper' assembly shop. Most parts in use now are SMT hence the interest in the Versatronics machine. I do not expect it to be in use every week and this is one reason a VIVO machine could not be justified, as I said it really is for prototyping.
I am not quite sure what you mean about being scared of sub-contracting, are you suggesting sub-contracting the prototypes. If so I think you touched on the reason it does not normally work because it relies on the the sub-contractor fitting your small job into his work schedule. This relies on a lot of goodwill on either side, which is OK for a while but almost inevitably leads to delays and frustration, not really a long term solution.
Like most small OEMs I prefer sub-contracting after the prototypes are made, regardless of whether it is mechanical parts machining, PCB assemblies, graphics overlays etc. and then bringing the final assembly and test back in-house.
I do expect to put some time and effort to get the machine up and running and no doubt there will be late nights and weekends as well. I suppose it will also depend on how good condition the machine is in in the first place.

Which machine are you looking to replace your RV4 with?
Are there any RVxx documents (PDF) that can be shared?
What is the story with User fcb and VrPlacer?  Is it an RVxx clone?

Thanks again for your help in this matter.
George

Mike

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 10:34:01 AM »
I am not really familiar with the std broker suspects and the RV series but I expect I might have some contact as a result of this thread.
There is a list of brokers here Grove seem to get RV stuff more often than others - I think the RV is small-fry for many other brokers used to dealing with kit with 5+ figure pricetags. If looking for an RV it's worth contacting all the brokers to let you know as & when they get anything in.
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The specifications that I have managed to dig up fom this forum and Google would lead me to believe that it would make a good intro machine for SMT PnP for the money.
Discounting large used kit like TP9s etc. that few people have the space for, I think the RV1/4 are the cheapest and smallest genuinely useable P&P machines you can buy, by a fair margin.
They are mechanically simple, the software is mostly fairly easy to use and the few bugs can be lived with. There isn't really much likely to go wrong that can't be repaired. I'm also pretty sure the calibration process is capable of being figured out once someone is prepared to put some time into it.
A machine that has come from a working environment is a pretty good bet, however beware anything without provenance, and in particular it is important that you get the machine's calibration file.
Spec-wise, a rough guide is that it  will comfortably do 0603s, 0402s and 0.5mm pitch need a good machine, set up well.
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Older PCs maintenance and PC software is not a problem for me but I take your point re. proprietary Versatronics board assemblies with closed source firmware.
Phonoplug appears to have addressed this issue to a significant extent- the firmware functionality on the embedded MCUs  is pretty trivial and could be replicated if necessary

Quote
It will be used to prototype half eurocard SMT boards perhaps to a maximum of five or ten.  In the past (thru hole and SMT parts) I would buy say five  boards and stuff them by any means, test and then subcontract the final production board to a 'proper' assembly shop. Most parts in use now are SMT hence the interest in the Versatronics machine. I do not expect it to be in use every week and this is one reason a VIVO machine could not be justified, as I said it really is for prototyping.

Something to seriously consider is how useful any P&P machine is for prototyping, due to setup time, loading feeders etc.
I have a very streamlined setup process that can produce the machine setup from my PCB SW in a minute or so (less of all parts are already in the library), but I still often hand-build protos as the time to load feeders is way more than hand placement. Depending on parts mix I sometimes only use the RV to do teh common passives and hand-place the rest.




George04

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 02:02:18 PM »
Mike
I suppose I was hoping when I started this thread that I would just be able to buy one from an existing user who might be 'moving up or on' without triggering the brokers. I have not had contact with member 'Ed' yet so I don't know which machine he has or what value he places on it.
Everything else you mention sounds good (small footprint, relative simplicity,etc) makes it sound like an ideal machine for prototyping, but then we come to whether it is worth it compared to doing it manually.
I dislike manual assembly, to me it is a bit like ironing, I know I can do it, I just  don't want to. I am not doing this to save money or time but to avoid the repetitive work of placing components. If the RVxx can place nearly all the parts without mistakes then that would be fine.
I take your point about the setup time, loading feeders etc, as I have no knowledge of how much time that takes. (Although it sounds a whole lot better to me than ironing but then again maybe not! )   
How many identical boards with n parts would you say it is worth setting your RV4S up for instead of doing the whole board by manual placement?

Can you help with the following?
Are there any RVxx documents (PDF) that can be shared?
What is the story with User fcb and VrPlacer?  Is it an RVxx clone?

George

Mike

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 02:54:44 PM »
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I take your point about the setup time, loading feeders etc, as I have no knowledge of how much time that takes. (Although it sounds a whole lot better to me than ironing but then again maybe not! )   
How many identical boards with n parts would you say it is worth setting your RV4S up for instead of doing the whole board by manual placement?
Hard to say as I don't do many jobs, and those I do are fairly diverse - I got mine primarily for the ability to turn stuff round quickly and flexibly - mostly small batches rather than protos, and I use a subcontractor for anything that needs higher quantities.  It also gets used for protos of stuff like LED arrays where accurate placement is important.
 
In practice the biggest factor tends to be the number of different parts on a board, although overall part numbers can swing the decision between hand and machine placement
Loading feeders and setting up new parts, and improvising/setting up passive feeders for trays  is what takes the most time by far. 
Also there are issues like whether any are on funny tape sizes, or potentially tricky to image, or just whether you have/want to buy enough extras to cover the feeders' lead-in and lead-out wastage. (It is possible to reduce this to near zero with some manual hand-holding - manually pulling the tape after the trailing 100mm or so has passed the roller)
 
Obviously jellbean stuff like 10K resistors, 100n/1u decoupling caps and other parts live permanently on the machine, and if you tend to use the same parts a lot then things will be a lot quicker after the first setup. Once you have your own P&P you become even more acutely aware of the need to use as few BOM parts as possible, and mop up any single-item resistors using combinations of other values used elsewhere. Or using a weird value for noncritical pullups because you needed it for a voltage regulator divider.

The RV feeders are a bit fiddly - I've no experience of others to compare but i imagine higher-end machine feeders are designed for quick setup.
In my case the machine is in a corner, so 3 of the left-side feeders are too fiddly to use most of the time. The 4 RHS feeders are always full of whatever I ran last, and get refilled for a new job on a least-likely-to-need-agaon-soon basis.
Of course there is also the learning curve which means your first few job will take most of a day to set up.

Gopher

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 04:12:58 PM »
Other than an RV the next options are TWS -supported, Quad IVC - defunct but support remains & Essemtec's - supported and their feeders have residual value if you then decided to do all your production and buy a better machine from their range. They all cost more and with the exception of the Quad are quite hard to find, people keep them because they don't make you want to kill someone. ;) My main concerns would be physical wear and tear rather than the electronics plenty of machines out there have had an easy life other have been worked hard. The support contracts from VSMT did not to my knowledge include an option for preventative maintenance and certainly when they were called on they never looked beyond fixing the immediate issue, no calibration checks, oiling, cleaning etc and one can only guess at what effect this had on their longevity.

VRPlacer, was due to be ready for people to nose at?  I think he was mainly using the machine and its users as inspiration and market research.

I think without Mikes software it takes about 2-3 hours to type in a BOM and map it to a set of Gerbers & double check it, with 200-400 parts and 30-40 part numbers.
The first PCB or your test run on sticky tape might take 20 mins while you sort out the bits that are incorrectly entered or where the machine is being plain crap (offsets) after that I find 2.2 seconds/chip and 4 seconds/leaded device a good (if a little pessimistic) guesstimate for build time.

If I'm building something and there are a few parts that are 50 or less I rarely bother loading these, its quicker to place them by hand while the machine works, I also do this for parts I have no feeders for. I think allowing 10mins/lane for loading parts not yet on the machine is wise, so 1/2 a day to get ready to build the board mentioned above, however I am cautious and double/triple check everything, even at 1200cph that's a whole lot of rework if you load something in the wrong place.
If I'm building low volumes of something, I might only use the RV to place the high volume stuff (0.1uf 10k... )

I would certainly try and avoid a broker if you can, its not like they can help you with your purchase afterwards.

Gopher

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 04:35:53 PM »
Oh and the installation CD has some tutorial slideshow things on and the machine came with a Printed Booklet thats 1/2 manual 1/2 traiing manual to support what we got when we bought the thing. I have no issues scanning that in and putting that up if nobody beats me to it.

Mike

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 05:15:50 PM »
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Other than an RV the next options are TWS -supported,

but avoid the low-end one that uses tweezers for alignment instead of vision!
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I think without Mikes software it takes about 2-3 hours to type in a BOM and map it to a set of Gerbers & double check it, with 200-400 parts and 30-40 part numbers.
Obviously this scales somewhat with job complexity.
Once you have an auto import process working and tweaked your PCB parts library to get all the rotations consistent, then the setup is almost trivial - the biggest bitch is building an old design that has old component defs that need rotations tweaking.
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The first PCB or your test run on sticky tape might take 20 mins while you sort out the bits that are incorrectly entered or where the machine is being plain crap (offsets)
I generally find that placing one part of each type is sufficient - again the time scales with job complexity. this can also be hampered by the occasional screen redraw bug in RV Place that can make omitting and un-omitting parts a challenge.
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I think allowing 10mins/lane for loading parts not yet on the machine is wise,

Probably a bit pessimistic - once you get the hang of it I'd say maybe 1-2 mins, plus 30 secs to setup the feeder position offset if necessary (not generally required if loading similar parts to a feeder that's previously been set up), although one sticking/damaged tape can use up a lot of time.
Hint : sticking new leaders to the ends of old ones with thin double-sided sticky tape can save a lot of time once you get the knack of lining them up.

Gopher

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 07:32:14 PM »
What baffles me most about the tweezer machines is you can still buy new machines that use this system.
The cheapest machines new are I think, MDC(see Mikes other hangout @ adafruit/sparkfun)  / SMTMaxhttp://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/QM1000-SMT-Auto-Pick-and-Place-Machine-w-Full-Vision-/300419890487?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45f26bbd37, APS Gold, and a Mechatronika M10.

 If you have the skill with double sided fiddlyness that Mike does that would indeed save some time, all I'd end up doing is sticking the damn thing to the black plate. My time is the extreme tho' -always allow for worst case ;).
Mike is correct the more expensive machines do indeed focus on bringing these times down, this is largely the forte of Europlacer (with mass tape trolleys) and Mydata (with Agilis feeder bases) machines but they cost as much new as an average house and are in the £25-50K  bracket at about 10+ years old. For a production house they are great, I think they are the only options we would even consider 2nd hand as a CEM user but you certainly can't tuck one in the shed to play with.

You asked what I might replace the RV with, not fully decided, but likely options are machines like Dima Mp-100, Essemtec FLX/Paraquda, Autotronik 392 which are about 3-4 times quicker than an RV and many times more accurate (0.5mm is std fare rather than needing special attention and the odd bit of tweezer correction)

Manual place- I use something a BIT like this http://www.smtshop.com/epages/61664791.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61664791/Products/FP-100

Treat buying an RV like putting money on a horse, its money you can do without if it breaks a leg.

Mike

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2011, 11:13:19 PM »
If you have the skill with double sided fiddlyness that Mike does that would indeed save some time, all I'd end up doing is sticking the damn thing to the black plate.
Tweezers. Maybe I'll do a quick video next time I'm loading up.

George04

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2011, 12:51:06 AM »
Gopher and Mike
Thanks for the taking the time to provide me with this interesting insight into the operation of these machines.
The manual and CD would be of interest if you can find the time to do it. Mikes videos have great to watch
and help greatly in understanding how the RVxx differs from a typical PnP machine. I would imagine that the unusual geometry / belt drive is what limits the mechanical placement accuracy, but that same geometry is what makes it compact.
What is the model/feature history of the Versatronics machines and which are the models/features to avoid or at least pay less for.
I will re-read the forum posts with regard to BOM / Gerber processing and Mikes software and try and
understand it some more.
How much would you buy this horse for today considering it might have to be shot.  :)

I have had a communication from user 'Ed' on my mobile today but I was in a poor reception area and we will talk again tomorrow, I don't know which model it was but it it sounds like it came from a working
environment.

Gopher

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2011, 09:14:36 AM »
I think RV1 (with no S?) is the one to avoid, RV4s which I use is the one that seems to crop up most often from brokers it is pretty much the last one except something called a Qplacer that barely gets a mention but sems to have shipped as these guys have/had one http://www.on-board.org.uk/equipment/

How much do you pay someone to iron your clothes, how long is a piece of string.....
Personally less than £4k including 4 feeders http://www.pmtech.co.uk/equipment/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=41 here's a broker example with pricing - not updated in months I note so I doubt they have a any of it. As you can see little stuff carries a premium

Mike

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Re: Versatronics RVxx PnP machine wanted
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2011, 01:30:32 PM »
RV1S and RV4s are the only ones to look for, avoid RV1 and RV placer, although feeders for these are useful, and as a set of feeders is probably worth as much as the machine, it may be worth buying a cheap RV1 or placer if it comes with feeders.
It is possible to use an RV with no feeders by making passive trays but probably too much hassle - you also have to wonder why a machine would come onto the market without them.  
The only difference with the RV4s is the flying camera, which can make a significant improvement to placement speed, especially with high mixes where you can;t locate common parts nearest the fixed camera.