Development Directions

Without giving any commitments to delivery schedule, here is, in the order of importance, the list of development issues. Please give your comments and ideas for these at the forum! Also, features off this list will be included in the software, too.

Bug fixes

I aim for bug-free and reliable software, but no software is perfect. You paid for the advertised functionality, so fixing any bugs found will always be the top priority.

Add capacity to tapes

Currently, it is on the user to ensure that there are enough parts on a tape at the beginning of a job. if not, the machine either places non existing parts or fails to see a location hole when it gets to the end of a tape.

Support feeders

For good reasons the machine does not support feeders. At this price points there will not be feeders, no matter what. Besides, I don’t think that in a prototype machine, you would want feeders even if those would be available. But still, people want to use the machine for small scale production, and want them, and there seems to be activity towards 3D self-printed affordable feeder design. If and when suitable feeders become available, I will add the support.

Done:

Loose part placement improvements

The optical part recognition is not as accurate as the rest of the machine. The function is fine for SOICs, but cannot reliably place 0.5mm pitch parts. To further improve the usefulness of the machine in this area, I see a few directions. First, using a jig would give a fixed reference to one corner of an IC, and with a table of known part sizes, would likely give accurate enough position for the part center, even without camera assistance. Of course, finding more robust and noise free algorithms for optical recognition would work also. And finally, experiments on operator assisted placement show a lot of promise, too.

Support partially done jobs

At an error situation, the machine should really remember which parts were successfully placed, which were not.

Support panels

Sometimes you want to build more than one board, even in prototyping phase. The machine should support populating a whole panel. You can do this now by externally manipulating the pick and place file to look like one job, but that takes the away the advantage of nearly zero setup work.