My experience with the NeoDen4

Thanks for the invite Chris! The NeoDen4 is a fun machine!

I am just about finished with a run of 100 boards. The boards are double sided with roughly 190 0805 (2012m) components on one side and 20 something SOIC-16 components on the bottom. It took me about 40 hours to learn the machine with no prior manufacturing experience at all.

The NeoDen4 helped me overcome a few manufacturing hurdles; most importantly, it allowed me to bypass the onerous task of getting an accurate manufacturing quote from Chinese fab houses.

Hi all!

I’ve made over 700 boards (in panels of 5 or 2) with the Neoden 4. Single sided, mostly 0805, 0603, TSSOP, SOT23, SOD and QFN…

Overall, I’m happy with the machine. The customer service of Neoden has always been super responsive and I have really appreciated dealing with them.

It’s not perfect however, and here are a few issues I’ve been dealing with:

  • It takes forever to setup a new job because you need to start from scratch: I have parts that I use on almost all my board (e.g. 100nF caps) but the machine does not “remember” the current stackup you just used for the previous job, so I have to re-enter that info again.
  • A couple of 0805 reels in my setup have a 10% mis-pick rate (0805 LED and 0805 resistor), despite tweaking the various parameters available.
  • A few rare times, the tape does not peel off some reels correctly and then blocks the pick mechanism. Changing the “peel strength” doesn’t work but attaching a small weight on the tape seems to fix it but feels a bit “quirky”.
  • I’ve never managed to get the vibration feeder to work correctly for the small TSSOP-20 tubes I have.
  • I’ve had to mod the 24mm feeders to get them to work flawlessly.
  • The user manual could be better :slight_smile:

I hope I can find some tips here to improve my use of the machine in this forum.


Hi Alain!

I’ve also been alarmed by the high error rates. My mis-pick rate is closer to 5% though with 0805 resistors / capacitors. I’m curious what speeds you are running the various tasks at. In general, my current project is running at about 50%

I’ve made a futile attempt to document my experiences with the machine, hoping that others - as well as myself - could benefit from it. I’ve jotted down a few things, but mostly I’ve dwelled on the machine’s shortcomings and brainstormed ways to improve manufacturing efficiency.

Here are some of the most common assembly line problems I’ve encountered, not including sticking my thumb in fresh solder paste…

Software Errors:
Components are placed 90 degrees off axis;
Components are not dropped correctly or in some designated area when pick is faulty;
There isn’t an ideal setting for vacuum pressure faults.

Feeder Errors:
Tape peel gears get jammed sometimes;
Components get stuck all over the pace;
Tape doesn’t get pulled forward because gear slips.

Picking Errors:
Component flips over because of tape bracket peel design flaws;
Pick nozzle calibration drifts;
Tombstone picks are common.

Transportation and Orientation Errors:
Part lost from excessive spin inertia or poor vacuum.

Placement Errors:
Partially dropped components.

Faulty Pick Nozzle:
Sometimes the nozzles don’t retract properly and pick / place height is off.

I haven’t experience the off axis rotation yet, it’d be helpful if we posted which versions of the software we’re using for a knowledge base. i’m using V4.1.3 B9

You can override the waste position, its stored in a config file. config.ini as a QT variant. posWasteBox.x posWasteBox.y mine was dumping into the camera (as well as in the settings under trashbox)

for the feeder tape weights on the tape helps.

the 110V has a weaker vacuum pump than the original, we’re going to experiment with a new pump.

the only time i’ve experienced the retract issue or two nozzles spitting at once is if you don’t set the pick and place heights.

you can cut and paste the stacks from CSV (or use my eagle script) just open the csv file from proc or export it to the usb stick and copy the first part that is listed as stacks. or just keep your default stack setup and it to your exported csv.

we did pull the metal spring out of the larger feeders, that seemed to help.


Hi Mike!

When I started I had a lot of errors, and while things are not perfect, I’ve managed to improve things a lot with the following additional points of attention:

  • Tweaking pick heights and place heights in the setup of each part.
  • Changing the nozzles: the nozzles that came with my machine don’t exactly match the ones described in the manual, from what I saw under a microscope. Experimenting with a couple different nozzles really helped for small parts (0603 - 0805).
  • Using 50% speed in some cases, though most parts work fine at the default speed.
  • Tweaking peel strength.

I still get component flips from time to time, notably for LEDs/SOD, more rarely for resistors.

I’ll check what version of firmware I have tomorrow and see how it compares to @charliex.

Hello all. I’m new. Name is Barry and I’m in USA-Iowa. I got a Neoden4 about a year ago.
Here is a blog with some FREE advice:
Please have a look and tell me what I can improve.

I learned something here, I have nozzle 3&4 sometimes firing at the same time. I will try to set the pick height as stated above.

I also have lots of standard parts, all installed in the right side feeders. With some careful slow and painful manipulation, save a COPY of a working good placement file (2nd file not the one from KiCad). You can take this off to an external PC and edit out the placement info for that project and make a generic file which still retains info on all the desired feeders. Use this as the basis for new projects.

If you are having problems picking 0805 caps, try a SMALLER nozzle as the cap surface is Not flat, it is a dog bone shape and a large nozzle gets on the solder blobs. There is no good vacuum and it drops the part. Hope that helps.

If a single feeder is bad, check to see that the flat screw holding the little square piece of metal is NOT protruding. This causes the part to flip when the tape advances. Lift the spring lever and feel under it.

Hope I did someone some good.

What’s the purpose of that little square piece of metal anyways?

Thanks, I got a NeoDen4 about a few months ago, it is a fun machine! :grinning:

Does anyone know of a test PCB we could all use to compare error rates and efficiency?

@charliex My neoden software version is 4.1.3 B2 (is this good?). Could you clarify what you said about the config file? Where is that file? How to access it?

@iabarry Nice tip about setting up the rails on your blog. I will also check the protruding screw issue you mentioned next time I do a run.

@Alain you should update, i believe b2 is a rev with vision issues.

it’s a windows xp box, so ctrl alt delete, select task manager (lower middle button) file menu, run , explorer which will open up a browser for you to look around configs are in d:\neoden\ etc

i use the camera to align the rails, with the little notch that runs down the edge. putting the camera at one end, then the other. then its aligned to the head.

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How/where do you get new sw? Please expound. thanks

connect neoden support, they ask for you serial number and current version, then they’ll send you a new version if they have it. then you just load it on the usb stick and start the machine

Just got this from Neoden

Is this what other folks are using?

I’d like to suggest starting a wiki page for each version of Neoden sw with comments and discussion of changes???

seems like a newer version than i have , i’m on 4.1.3B9 which i got about a month or so ago.

@iabarry looks like neoden are closed for the chinese break i just emailed them, would you mind sharing it with me? charliexwallace at

charliex - have you installed the new sw? I’ve not done it yet. Any comments?

Hi all,
I wanted to thank the various posters for their tips on the Neoden 4. A month ago, I upgraded to firmware version I’m getting much better results now that I’ve learned all the quirks :slight_smile:

Using fishing weights is actually quite common on feeders and peelers of all machines. It looks wonky but is better.

I have found non linear offset issues, as if the machine is out of calibration.

Anyone find this? I’m thinking maybe a percentage factor on each co-ordinate.

I also run into strange calibration issues. Our machine rocks a lot when it is moving at full speed; perhaps this is the root of the issue… Sometimes my parts will all be placed off by the same amount. I’ve found that if I cycle the power, issues will occasionally go away. The machine seems to work better after it is warmed up too. We need to upgrade the software on our machine.

Make sure you use the legs instead of the wheels… I think their issue is that they don’t have any linear position, and only use the stepper location based on where the last part was placed.