Author Topic: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.  (Read 9500 times)

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Online mrpackethead

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SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« on: February 20, 2016, 07:47:12 am »
I use a great wee bit of free software  "SMTAssitant" from Alicom; and thought it was worth sharing.   Its just a aid to help you get your parts down on the board.

http://www.alciom.com/en/downloads/free-downloads.html

Quote
SmtAssistant is a software developed by ALCIOM. It allows to locate a part on a printed circuit board, based on a bitmap of this PCB and a Pick & Place file ( PKP). SmtAssistant, developed for our own needs, can help you for manual SMT PCB assembly as well as for inspection and repair operations.

I export a PNP file out of ALitum, and then make a screen shot of the board.. It creates a "bin list" of parts.. so you can be very organised,  and then steps you through placing them part by part..  It highlights the area for the part to be placed, and provides a zoom window..     Its a real godsend for speeding things up!



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Offline rx8pilot

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 08:18:24 am »
I spent the last two years manually assembling my PCB's - many designs, many hundreds of PCB's, many 10's of thousands of placements. Now that I actually got a P&P machine - this shows up. What timing.  :-//

Organization is KEY to manual assembly, this looks great. I spent countless hours creating my on software and physical organization to get through my assembly needs. If I knew of this software - I would be months ahead of where I am now.

Nice find. :-+
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Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 11:49:46 am »
I spent the last two years manually assembling my PCB's - many designs, many hundreds of PCB's, many 10's of thousands of placements. Now that I actually got a P&P machine - this shows up. What timing.  :-//

Organization is KEY to manual assembly, this looks great. I spent countless hours creating my on software and physical organization to get through my assembly needs. If I knew of this software - I would be months ahead of where I am now.

Nice find. :-+

Now i feel terrible. I've been using this for a few years, and not sure why, but i thought  i should post about it..    I read about it in some magazine i think.

The only bit that is a little bit odd in this software is the way you have to configure the .ini file to adapt it for various CAM packages..  Theres examples for the more common ones though.
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Offline D3f1ant

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2016, 12:36:45 pm »
Thanks mrpackethead, this is gold  :-+
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2016, 01:13:20 pm »
Now i feel terrible. I've been using this for a few years, and not sure why, but i thought  i should post about it..    I read about it in some magazine i think.

The only bit that is a little bit odd in this software is the way you have to configure the .ini file to adapt it for various CAM packages..  Theres examples for the more common ones though.

It never occurred to me to even search for this. All is well now that I was able to move beyond most manual assembly.

For anyone planning to assemble PCB's manually - having a tool like this is CRUCIAL if you are doing more than just a blinky LED.
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Offline Christopher

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2016, 06:19:34 am »
This looks pretty damn good!

The killer feature for me is the technician setting the software up. He shouldn't need to know what a pick n  place file is!! Just File -> Load Board should load it all in, with calibration and top n bottom already.

Also no gerbers import is a bit of a pain but not the end of the world !
 

Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2016, 07:47:58 am »
This looks pretty damn good!
Yes.

Quote
The killer feature for me is the technician setting the software up. He shouldn't need to know what a pick n  place file is!! Just File -> Load Board should load it all in, with calibration and top n bottom already.

Yes, absolutely a way to save a "setup" would be awesome.. It would save time, when you have to jump back to something.

Quote
Also no gerbers import is a bit of a pain but not the end of the world !

Actually i'm fine with this.. Gerbers are quite a painful thing to use.. I more often than not find myself using a rendered 3d image of the final board, rather than just the track layout.. It helps quite a lot in getting things sorted..
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Offline DTJ

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 01:03:45 pm »

I was a bit dubious about this little program, I usually mark up a printed layout with different coloured highlighter markers and use that as a reference.

I loaded it up and it looks quite good. At first I could not get it to run but I enabled XP SP3 compatibility & admin rights and it then worked ok. I'll give it a go next time I've some boards to assemble.

Thanks OP.
 

Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2016, 06:51:43 pm »
Not sure about XP,  I've only used it on Win7 and Win10.
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Offline DTJ

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2016, 07:04:30 pm »
Not sure about XP,  I've only used it on Win7 and Win10.

I should have mentioned I'm running W8.

I'd double click the executable and nothing would happen. Nada. Tried a few times then set for XP compatibility + run as admin and it opened ok.
 

Offline Fred27

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2016, 08:40:55 pm »
Looks useful. Does anyone know if something similar for Eagle?

Sorry - just clicked through and it looks like it can be used with Eagle too. Leaving this post here to help anyone else who was wondering.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2016, 08:43:38 pm by Fred27 »
 

Offline DTJ

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2016, 11:38:17 pm »
Anyone figure out the .ini file for Protel?

I'm getting an error "missing mandatory column ID in ini file".


Exporting the  pnp file as a csv gives this:
      1                  6                3         4            0         0         0           0          2             7            5
===========================================

"Designator","Footprint","Mid X","Mid Y","Ref X","Ref Y","Pad X","Pad Y","Layer","Rotation","Comment"
""
"LCD1","LCD_WINSTAR1602B","-65.996mil","1968.41mil","-1325.839mil","2588.488mil","-1325.839mil","2588.488mil","T","0.00","LCD 16X2 WINSTAR 1602B"


===========================================
My .ini file says this:

3
,    
1,6,3,4,0,0,0,0,2,7,5
--------------------------------------------------------

SmtAssistant configuration file

Syntax :
Line 1 : Number of lines to skip when reading a PKP file
Line 2 : Field separator between columns of the PKP file
Line 3 : Respective indexes of the PKP columns, as follows :

Mandatory fields :

1 : Part ID (string, should be formed as letters followed by a number, as R101 or CP5)
2 : layer (any string starting with B or b will be understood as Bottom, else Top)
3 : X (should be a signed decimal number, separator is a dot)
4 : Y (should be a signed decimal number, separator is a dot)

Optionnal fields :

5 : Value (string)
6 : Package (string)
7 : Rotation (should be a signed decimal number, separator is a dot)
0 : unused

Strings could be either enclosed between double quotes ("STRING") or
without double quote if they never include the separator character
 

Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2016, 05:49:33 am »
Looks useful. Does anyone know if something similar for Eagle?

Sorry - just clicked through and it looks like it can be used with Eagle too. Leaving this post here to help anyone else who was wondering.

Yes, it can be used for pretty much anything that produces a Pick and Place file as a txt file.   
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Offline AlexDavidson

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2016, 08:04:13 am »
Quote
I'm getting an error "missing mandatory column ID in ini file".

I noticed the same problem. Through a process of elimination I found that it didn’t like the zeroes in the column mapping, so I used Excel to remove the unused columns in the PKP file. That meant I no longer required zeroes in the column mapping line in the ini file, and everything worked fine.
 

Offline DTJ

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2016, 03:42:31 pm »
For protel99 the following seems to work ok:

Export CSV pnp file from Protel, open in excel or whatever .......
Delete 4 x position columns, keeping only the mid x & mid y columns
Save file as .csv and then rename as .txt file.

Edit the first 3 lines of the  .ini file to be:

2
,
1,6,3,4,2,7,5
 

Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2016, 06:58:39 pm »
Oh, I remember this problem..  "0" never seemed to work for me.  In Alitum I actually use a custom output job to create my pnp files and since I did'tn ever use all the fields the default gave,  I removed them.. Saves another editing step.

There are a few things that could improve this software, but it is free. I wonder if they would consider opensourcing it.


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Offline Jeroen3

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2016, 04:13:24 am »
I used this software today. And I can confirm it reduced misplaced and skipped components to zero.
Great tool. Could still use some improvements, but it's workable.
 

Offline DTJ

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2016, 05:28:55 pm »
I gave it a try out. While it's a great idea and might be good for some I've reverted back to a paper system.

Using different coloured high lighter markers I mark all of the same part values one colour ie 100nF caps yellow, 10k resistors blue etc.
I've only got about 8 high lighter colours so it has its shortcomings.

I find its a bit faster than using the SMT assistant software.
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2016, 08:24:46 pm »
Thanks for posting this, will try it out next time, it beats the 8 copies highlighting the parts.
Can you also change the order of component placements, for instance all the same value parts first, then second value parts etc.
 

Offline D3f1ant

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2016, 05:19:44 am »
Yes, it actually sorts them by part type by default but you can sort on other columns if you want. You also get a pop-up when component value changes. You really have to try very hard to assemble a board incorrectly ;)
 

Online mrpackethead

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Re: SMT Assistant Software for Handplacing Parts: Free and Awesome.
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2016, 05:58:14 am »
I've had a bit of a crazy idea, and am windering if we can tune OpenPNP down to run in "manual" mode.
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