[Nick Poole] has an interesting idea for a new tool, which has the simple goal of making accurate part counting of SMT reels as easy as pulling tape through a device. That device is the BeanCounter, an upcoming small handheld unit of its own design that counts coins as quickly as you can pull tape through a slot. The device is powered by a CR2032 cell and works with tapes from 8mm wide up to 2mm in height, which [Nick] dit covers most parts sized 0805 or smaller, as well as things like SOT-23 transistors.
Why would anyone want to facilitate such a task? Two compelling reasons for such a tool include: inventorying parts on partial reels or cut strips, and creating segments containing a known number of parts.
The former is handy for obvious reasons, and the latter is useful for things like creating kits. In fact, the usefulness of this tool for creating fixed-length tape segments might not be obvious to anyone who hasn’t done it by hand. Of course, one can measure the SMT tape with a ruler or a reference mark to obtain a segment containing a fixed number of parts, but this involves a lot of manipulation and does not scale very well. In fact, the hassle of precisely and repeatedly cutting tape segments is a common problem, so it’s important to make the job easier.
If you’ve looked at the photos and suspected that the large 7-segment digital display is done with clever PCB manufacturing options (making segments by shining LEDs through PCB layers, a trick we always like to see) , you are not alone. After all, [Nick] has a lot of experience in smart board manufacturing, and eagle-eyed readers might even suspect that the reset and configuration buttons on the edge of the tool are created using flexible PCB segments as switches. Want the background details? Visit the project’s GitHub repository and see everything for yourself at the CAD level.