■ FIGURE 9. Placing components into a PCB held by the
AX- 12+ SmartArm.
■ FIGURE 10. Soldering components into place while PCB
is held steady by AX- 12+.
■ FIGURE 11. AX- 12+ gripper open,
ready to reach for the solder vac.
■ FIGURE 12. The AX- 12+ gripper clamps
down on the solder vac.
■ FIGURE 13. A slight tug removes
the solder vac from the AX- 12+
hands to solder on it (Figure 10).
This process was so deceptively easy
and the result so useful that I just
swaggered on to the next task!
The rumble you felt and that
distant screaming sound wasn’t an
earthquake, it was just my ambitious
ideas coming in direct contact with
reality. With the board flipping function
under my belt, I decided to take things
up a notch and see about having the
arm hand me one of the other more
popular and useful devices on my
workbench: a solder vac.
I started by placing a spool of
hookup wire on the bench and then
placing the solder vac in
the center of the spool
to hold it upright where
it could be easily gripped
by the arm. I then used
the joystick to move the
arm through the series of
poses as I had done
■ FIGURE 14. Foot pedal
control expected to add
hands-free control to the
AX- 12+ motions.
above, naming them “Open Gripper”
(Figure 11), “Fetch Solder Vac”
(Figure 12), and “Offer Solder Vac”
(Figure 13). I then placed the solder
vac back in the spool and executed
the Open Gripper and the Fetch
Solder Vac routines. Unfortunately,
the gripper missed the vac and
ended up dumping the spool over!
A bit (okay, more like hours)
of experimentation later and I
discovered that to reliably retrieve
the solder vac, I would have to make
a much more accurate resting spot
for it. Since the arm was reliably
repeating the positions I had
recorded, the solder vac had to be
at the same angle and height every
time or there was a good chance the
arm would miss.
Logically, this also meant that
any tool I wanted to have the arm
handle would have to be equally well