Developing a Handheld SMT Parts Counter for Hobbyists and Light Industry

Reel-to-reel SMT tape counters are too large, too heavy, and too expensive to be practical for hobby and cottage-industry use. The goal in developing BeanCounter was to make a tool that satisfies most use cases for a reel-to-reel counter without the bulk and expense.

With fundraising from CrowdSupply and support from my manufacturing partners PCBWay and Wenext, I was able to develop and deliver a handheld, battery-powered tool for counting parts on 8mm paper and plastic carrier tape.

product image for the beancounter smt tape counter
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Wood/SparkFun Electronics

Hand-Built and Individually Tested in Virginia, USA

With PCBA currently outsourced to PCBWay, I do all of the final assembly, programming, and testing myself — with plans to move the PCBA in-house soon. This allows me complete control over fit and finish, and my limited manufacturing capability has yet to be a bottleneck for such a niche tool.

A folding table in my living room covered in assembled BeanCounter units and packaging

My manufacturing capability is also augmented by jigs and automation which I’m continuously developing for the GreatBigFactory arm of my business. If demand ever outstrips my capacity, I’m committed to finding a local, ethical, manufacturing solution.

Open Source Certified

BeanCounter is Open Source Hardware. All design files, CAD, and firmware are freely available here under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license. Anyone who wants to build, use, or sell the BeanCounter is welcome to, so long as their work is also distributed with the CC-BY-SA-4.0 license. Makers make, I don’t have time to police other people for “stealing” my “intellectual property.”

OSHWA Certification Mark with id# US002097

Custom Solutions for Warehouse Applications

BeanCounter was an unexpected hit with larger electronics distributors. I’m currently working with a handful of engineers at these distributors to develop tools that meet their needs in particular. Features from these projects will eventually culminate in a “BeanCounter Pro” offering with support for a wider variety of tape-width support, more power options, ruggedization, etc.

Available Now from our Distribution Partners

If you’re interested in getting a BeanCounter for yourself, they can now be found at Crowd Supply, their parent company Mouser, and my employer SparkFun Electronics.