Step 5: Build an SMD Vacuum Pick and Place Tool
I found that the best aquarium pump for our purposes is a Tetra Whisper. With a few exceptions, only diaphragm pumps from five or ten years ago are easily reversible, and they all require some kind of permanent modification of the valve system. Most modern pumps (like the Marina 100) are single-piece designs that have been refined to the point where they can't be modified in the same way - except for the Whisper series!
The way it is designed, it can be reversed simply by pulling out the one-way valve assembly, turning it around, and putting it back in. It is a tool-free modification that can be returned to normal operation by doing the mod in reverse. Unplug it first!
If you would prefer to go the cheap route, it is still a safe bet on the older pumps. Any thrift store (Goodwill, Savers, etc.) is liable to have one for under $5.
We also need to make a vacuum pen. Any cheap pen with a plastic tube body will do just fine. Keep a lookout for Luer lock connectors, the standard for syringe needles. They come in handy for a lot of things. In this case, it will make swapping tips much easier. They can be hard to find; my local surplus store had them in quantity and they turned out to be just what the doctor ordered (groan). I even found a Luer lock valve for adjusting the airflow, though it turned out to be totally unnecessary, since we want as much vacuum as we can get.
I also managed to piece together a miniature lazy susan with some odd parts. I found this to be an indispensable tool, given the ability to turn the circuit board to the orientation of the part you picked up. There is no comparison to even the nicest clamp-style PCB holder.
- Tetra Whisper air pump (single output)
- BIC pen
- 1/8" flexible hose
- assorted luer syringe needles (try your local needle exchange :)
- Luer lock fittings
- Various sizes of heatshrink
- bearing assembly
- flat board or piece of plastic
- self-adhesive rubber sheet
- self-adhesive rubber feet
- 4 short sheet metal screws
Tools & Supplies
- Power drill
- #2 Phillips screwdriver
- Hobby knife
- Hot air gun
- metal fil