Hackspaces, volunteer-driven meeting rooms and workshops for makers and tinkerers, are fascinating places. We're always eager to see what our friends around the globe are doing, and Ronald Huveneers of the NYC Resistor hackspace has caught our eye with a particularly ambitious project: reverse-engineering the facility's somewhat buggy pick-and-place machine with a view to fixing its limitations and adding new features.
For those not familiar with industrial equipment, a pick-and-place machine does exactly what its name suggests: it picks up components and places them, usually putting small surface-mount devices (SMDs) into very precise positions on a printed circuit board. They're handy things to have, and Ronald seems set on making sure the NYC Resistor pick-and-place is the envy of hackspaces the world around while teaching everyone a thing or two about the art of reverse engineering.
In this series I am going to work on reverse engineering a Pick and Place machine. This because the software for it is a mess and we want to add several new functions to it. The first part of reverse engineering any product is to make an inventory of what it contains, general components, what is used to make it work, etc.