The Index PnP Machine Gets an upgrade with a Custom Motherboard
The controller was designed to replace an Arduino Mega, RAMPS Shield, and a Piggyback board for the Index PnP.
Our friend Stephen Hawes has been evolving his Index PnP machine for the better part of this year, which is an impressive feat considering the platform costs around $450 and can handle up to 30 feeders for even the most demanding jobs. Hawes' Index boasts an Arduino Mega and RAMPS Shield that drives a series of NEMA 17 stepper motors, a vacuum pump, limit switches, and a downward-facing camera, all packed into a 3D-printed frame.
Earlier in the year, Hawes stated he would be adding a solder paste dispenser, which he recently completed, a reflow oven, and even AOI, but his most recent accomplishment was the addition of a custom motherboard that replaces the electronics hardware mentioned above. The brains of the Universal Pick and Place Controller comes in the form of an ATmega2560, which is still running a modified version of Marlin. It's also equipped with six stepper drivers, six MOSFETs, 32 feeder ports, a relay, vacuum sensor ports, and a convenient USB hub.
Another great feature of Hawes' custom motherboard allows users to plug their webcams directly into the platform, and only use a single cable to connect to a PC. After finalizing his board, he had PCBWay manufacture his design, then went about soldering the AVR microcontroller and the rest of the components by hand, which is a long, tedious process. After a few setbacks, Hawes managed to get most of the components on the motherboard to function correctly and save for the feeders, which he plans to correct using RS-485 for serial communications, as Ring couldn’t be implemented with his new build. Watch the video above for a brief rundown of Hawes' Universal Pick and Place Controller.