Anyone who has ever assembled a PCB full of small SMD devices will find that tweezers are not always the best tool for accurate positioning. Thin, flat components like microcontrollers can be awkward to pick up safely, while small resistors and capacitors tend to fly out of the grip of your tweezers into the sunset (or onto your carpet). Vacuum pickup equipment can be a great help, but the most convenient models with an electric air pump and a foot switch can be a bit expensive. [sjm4306] Looks like it doesn’t have to be that way: he made his “VacPen” mostly from recycled ingredients.
At the center of the project is a small vacuum pump with a pen-like device through a flexible hose. The tip of the pen has a pickup nozzle that comes from a cheap manual pick and place tool. Both the pump and the pen were rescued from some gas analysis equipment [sjm4306] Torn many days ago; The pen is especially convenient because it comes with a built-in brush-like filter that can hold any debris or small parts that can be accidentally swallowed.
The vacuum controller is housed inside a neat 3D printed enclosure that holds a custom PCB with an ATtiny microcontroller. The pump can be operated either by means of a foot switch or by pressing on a touch-sensitive pad above the perimeter. [sjm4306] It is made by soldering a wire into a copper penny and sticking it inside the lid: simple, effective and cheap.
As you can see in the video embedded below, VacPen is fully capable of capturing any type of SMD component, and just as importantly, releases it at the desired moment. If you are new to SMD technology, we recommend this tutorial [Bil Herd] Which also covers vacuum tweezers. If you are more into automatic vacuum pickup equipment then this great robot might be of interest to you.