In my previous post a few months back, I built my SMD manual parts picker using a fish tank air pump and a custom wood handle. There was one big oversight in that build that basically made the picker useless for most of the things I built it for. I failed to check before the build if the ball inflator needle I planned to use was actually small enough to pick up 0603 parts. Well, it wasn’t… So, that tool has mostly been collecting dust since the build. I’ve got a lot of 0603 parts to place in the next few weeks and it was time to get this baby working!
Since blunt needles are cheaply available and come in many different sizes, I decided this would be the ideal replacement for the ball inflator needle. One really nice thing about the needle/syringe system is that the needles are made to be able to attach/detach so that different size needles can work with different syringes. Having the ability to easily replace needles if they get bent/broken and easily exchange different sizes will be a nice upgrade. The challenge was how to get the needle receiver onto my picker handle…
I decided the easiest way to achieve this would be to cut the receiver off of a syringe and attach it to my wooden handle. I started by cutting the receiver off the syringe with a box cutter.
Then I did some cleanup of the cut end of the receiver using the box cutter and some fine sandpaper until the diameter was consistent along the full length of the receiver.
Next, I determined the size drill to use (11/32”) and did a test fit on some scrap wood. It was slightly tighter than I wanted but not small enough to go to the next size drill bit. So, I took note to do a little extra widening when I did the real drilling into my handle.
Now it was time to drill the handle. Since I already had a fairly large hole drilled in the handle and I just need to remove a little extra material. I decided I would hold the handle and push it up to the drill bit mounted in my drill press. I wouldn’t normally recommend this technique for safety reasons but since this was a piece that was already finished and I didn’t have an easily available way to clamp it without marring it.
I centered the drill bit to the hole in the drill press base and then raised the base a bit and held the handle from below. This gave me a good visual guide to ensure that I was holding the handle plumb to the bit. Then I slowly drilled the wood about 1/2” and overdrilled the sides a bit to help ensure the receiver would fit with little pressure and hopefully not split the handle.
After cleaning the splinters and dust out of the inside of the handle using a small dowel wrapped in fine sandpaper, it was time for a test fit. It didn’t require a lot of force to push in but, unfortunately, I did get one small crack. :(
All that was left was to add some Gorilla (“super”) glue around the side of the receiver and press it in for good. I added an extra bead of glue to the crack to help prevent it from growing further and to seal it so the vacuum would not be lost.
I let it dry over night then hit it wish some fine sandpaper the next morning.
Time to try it out! Here’s trying out attaching different size tips.
Here’s trying out the larger tip to pick up 0603 resistors.
Here’s using the smaller needle to pick up 0603 resistors.
I made one other small enhancement. I added a simple cord switch to make it possible to turn the vacuum on & off without going behind my desk and unplugging it.
Now it’s time to start assembling Tripwire modules. Thanks for reading!