Following the Panasonic component feeder mods and the build of our manual pick and place machine, we have started to build an automatic stepper motor-driven controller for the component feeders which will have push-button control for selecting the components and also the ability to control via a computer or digital interface at a later date when we convert the manual machine into a fully automatic CNC controlled pick and place machine.
The first idea for activating the component feeders was to use a Z axis to push the modified levers up and down using a small bearing which has 50mm of travel and using a stepper motor from an old Epson scanner and drive belts to move the carriage up and down. This worked ok without any load but when trying to activate the component feeders the motor did not have enough power to fully cycle the feeders.
The mount and guide rails are shown in the photo below:
We then found the old lead screw from our CNC mill which we replaced with a ball screw earlier this year and made a lead nut from a section of Delrin plastic and drilled and tapped this to accept the leadscrew.
Drive carriage in top position
Drive carriage in the extended position
A NEMA 17 motor was fitted to the lead screw using grub screws and then connected to a drive to test the range of motion.
The next stage is to make a top motor mount and then a circuit to drive the Z-axis and activate the component feeders.