Sneak Preview: DIY SMT Pick & Place Machine with OpenPnP

I apologize: I have not been blogging much in the past weeks :-(. One reason is that I’m working on a DIY SMT/SMD Pick&Place machine which keeps me busy most of my spare time :-). I admit that this project is not finished yet, but now is the time I can give a sneak preview: a SMD/SMT pick and place machine:

Pick&Place Machine

Pick&Place Machine

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3D Printed SMT Cut Tape Holder

If you follow me on Twitter, then you are aware that I’m working on a larger project building an SMT pick and place machine :-). The fun with this project is that it includes electronics, mechanics and all kind of 3D printing and laser cutting. That machine picks SMD components and places them on a PCB. One sub-project is to build a SMD cut tape holder:

SMD Tape Holder

SMD Tape Holder

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Custom 3D Printed Magnetic Encoder Disks for Robotics Projects

I’m making great progress with the firmware for the new Mini Sumo Robot (see “New Concept for 2018 Mini Sumo Roboter“). The goal is a versatile and low-cost Mini Sumo robot, and the robot comes with the feature of magnetic position encoders. In a previous article I have explained how to mold custom tires for robots (see “Making Perfect Sticky DIY Sumo Robot Tires“), this article is about how to make DIY Magnetic disk encoders.

3D Printed Magnetic Disk Encoders

3D Printed Magnetic Encoders Disks

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Making Perfect Sticky DIY Sumo Robot Tires

Sumo robot challenges are fun. One important aspect of every Sumo robot are the tires: if they are sticky enough, the robot can push out the opponent. In this article I compare different available robot hubs and tires, and how to make DIY hubs and tires.

Selection of Sumo Robot Wheels and Tires

Selection of Sumo Robot Wheels and Tires

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New Concept for 2018 Mini Sumo Roboter

Doing Mini Sumo robot competition is really fun, and there is yet another one coming to end the current university semester. For several years we have used our own sumo robot, and this is the one used in the course this year too. But for future and extended events we are exploring a new robot. I proudly present the concept of the next generation sumo robot for the year 2018:

Sumo Robot with Bluetooth module

Sumo Robot with Bluetooth module

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SQUIX ESP8266 based E-Paper WiFi Weather Station

I’m a fan of all kind of weather stations. When Daniel Eichhorn twittered about his new version using an E-Paper display module, I immediately preordered one. I decided to build a station with a custom enclosure, so here is my version of a 3D printed version, featuring magnets so it can be attached to the fridge:

E-Paper Weather Station

E-Paper Weather Station

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Custom 3D Printed Enclosure for NXP LPC-Link2 Debug Probes

I love 3D printing as it enables me to create custom enclosures for all kind of projects. The NXP LPC-Link2 probe is great, but it lacks a protective enclosure. So I decided to create a custom enclosure. And as 3D filaments are available in different colors, I experimented with red and black and custom painting:

lpc-link2 enclosure

lpc-link2 enclosure

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2017 Spring Semester Sumo Challenge

Video

The spring university semester is coming to an end, and the Infotronic course closed with a Sumo robot challenge. Great challenge, new technologies, innovative approaches and funny designs 🙂

Groot

Groot

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3D Printed Sumo ToF Blade

ToF (Time-of-Flight, see “Tutorial: STMicroelectronics VL6180X Time-of-Flight LIDAR Sensor“) sensors are fun: they measure the time the light takes to travel to an object and back again. That way they can measure the distance to object with a millimeter accuracy. An ideal sensor for a battle robot: 🙂

Front Blade attached

Front Blade attached

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DIY IKEA Wireless Qi Charging for the Hexiwear

The Achilles Heel of the Mikroelektronika Hexiwear is its charging: the charging and USB connector are only designed for a limited number of plug-unplug cycles, and it does not have a wireless charging capability like the Apple iWatch. Until now! I have built a DIY wireless charging system for the Hexiwear 🙂 :

Wireless Qi Charging the Hexiwear

Wireless Qi Charging the Hexiwear

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Prototype of tiny Hexiwear Docking Station

For a research project we are using Hexiwear to measure the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The Hexiwear is used as a networking sensor device in that project. For that project we needed a docking station with wireless capabilities:

Mini Docking Station for Hexiwear

Mini Docking Station for Hexiwear

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Making-Of Sea Shell Sand Clock

The year is coming to an end, the Holiday season is approaching. In case you are looking for a nice present: I have completed my version of a sand clock: a clock writing the time into sand:

Sandclock

Sandclock

If you are interested to build your own version, I have documented the different steps with tips and tricks…

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Failure with Solder Points and Mechanical Pressure

The good thing with failure is: it is an opportunity to learn :-).

So here is a case: For a STEM roadshow (see “MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?“), we have produced in a rush an autonomous robot with a shiny printed 3D cover:

LED effect in blue

Prototyp with LED Effects

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MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?

How to fascinate kids for technology? Show them that engineering is fun :-). At the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts we have created the ‘MINTomat’: a robotics system for STEM activities rewarding interaction with bubble gums:

MINTomat

MINTomat

Yes, pretty over engineered compared to a normal bubble gum automata, but that’s part of the fun :-).

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Avoid Warping ABS on Ultimaker 2

3D printing is like cooking or like BBQ: It is more about barometric pressure, humidity and temperature than you might  think of. To me, printing (and cooking) is a combination of art and science. And as with cooking, sometimes the result is not usable.

I’m very happy with the Ultimaker 2 printing PLA material. For a LED matrix project I have to use ABS as this material is suitable for higher temperature: PLA simply will not stand the heat produced by the LEDs I’m going to use. And here the joy ended: printing using ABS was definitely no fun. While the first small test print came out OK, I produced afterwards a pile of unusable parts because of warping :-(.

Pile of bad ABS Parts

Pile of bad ABS Parts

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3D Printed Gameboy and Remote Controller with tinyK20 Board

As a remote controller for the Sumo robot (see “Zumo Robot with Magnetic Encoders“) we have used so far a combination of NXP FRDM-KL25Z board and a Joystick Shield (see “Joystick Shield with nRF24L01 driving a Zumo Robot“). That solution was not ideal, so this weekend I created a 3D printed prototype:

tinyK20 Remote Controller

tinyK20 Remote Controller

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Kinetis Lava LED Light Cube

In “openHAB RGB LED Light Cube with WS2812B and NXP Kinetis” I started experimenting Kinetis boards, a LED cube diffuser and Adafruit WS2812B NeoPixel LEDs. That worked well, but I was not to very happy about the visual effect. So here is my next version: I wanted to have control over each side of the cube. For this I have built a cube inside the cube with a 3D printed structure:

Bare LED Cube

Bare LED Cube

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