As a part of the Microchip Get Launched design competition, Virginia-based Great Big Factory, an electronic device manufacturer, has designed SMT parts counter that runs on a CR2032 coin cell– BeanCounter. Yet to be launched for crowdfunding on CrowdSupply, the manufacturer has provided enough details to decide if this is a product you would want to support. A pocket-sized parts counter works with any opaque, 8 mm wide carrier tape up to 2 mm in height.
To get started with BeanCounter, users simply need to turn the device on and start pulling tape through. Thanks to the onboard two IR photo interrupters that have the ability to count parts as fast as the user can pull them through. The device has two modes in which it can count the parts– inventory mode and dispense mode. In inventory mode, the device will use only one sensor to count long tapes and partial reels at its fastest rate, while in the dispense mode, the hardware uses both sensors. BeanCounter can detect the direction in which the user is pulling the tape and also allows it to count upward and backward in both directions, only for dispense mode.
Digging a little deeper, what BeanCounter does is count feed holes and divide by the part pitch. Since it does not detect empty pockets, you will need to make sure it begins counting after any empty tape has been pulled through and stops counting before it reaches the tail. To help with this, we’ve added a “pause” button that you can use to freeze the count while pulling empty tape.
Claimed as “Scales From a Single Drawer to a Room Full of Bins,” the manufacturer wants the users to know the scalability of the BeanCounter. Because traditional reel counters are complicated to operate, they only work for counting reels, while BeanCounter provides more granular inventory tracking by allowing the user to count cut tapes as well.
The manufacturer has provided a detailed demo video for interested customers who would like to see the hardware working. The device features an adjustable part pitch and a pause button to start or stop the count. Being an open-source project, the manufacturer wants users to look at the CAD files and the firmware used to build the parts counter. The Great Big Factory claims BeanCounter to be affordable, but it will only be clear after the project goes live on CrowdSupply. If you are interested you can consider subscribing to get notified of any updates regarding the project.