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  1. #1
    Just a general question about the learning curve for making PCBs on your CNC. I have nearly completed my web controlled Arduino BB RC Tank project Im still coding (and really enjoying it) but theres not really enough space for the Arduino boards I thought I would make PCB from scratch using Ladyada kits or even buy the parts and put it together to make it smaller or even make it fit better ina strange shape. Anyway is there any point to putting a lot of hours into learning everything I need to produce a PCB for it ? I think the biggest problem I would have is the drawing the schematics as I dont have a that much of an electronics background, besides perf board any alternatives ?

    Fiction is far more plausible when wrapped around a thread of truth

    Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2
    D.C.'s Avatar
    Lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 05-01-2016 Has been a member for 4-5 years. Has a total post count of 326. Received thanks 31 times, giving thanks to others 24 times.
    Shouldn't be that bad.

    Have a play with eagle cad and do a couple of simple circuits, there is also with some advice & vids for milling your own pcb's.

  3. I use DipTrace for designing my pcb's.

    I have tried the tonner xfer, and the uv xfer, this is before I had my cnc.

    Using the CNC to cut the tracks and drill holes is much quicker, but I still prefer the etched pcbs to engraved pcb's.
    "If first you don't succeed, redefine success"

  4. #4
    C_Bubba's Avatar
    Lives in LaGrange, GA USA, United States. Last Activity: 15 Hours Ago Has been a member for 8-9 years. Has a total post count of 77. Received thanks 11 times, giving thanks to others 2 times.
    I use EagleCad for designing the boards and an add in ulp called pcb-gcode to make gcode files.

    You can download Eagle and use it as freeware for "small" boards" and hobby use and the add in is also freeware and can be found on the eagle site or through its yahoo group:
    pcb-gcode : The pcb-gcode User's Group

    Works great for those one off boards and if you want "autoleveling", there is a version that runs on an older version of eagle also.

    AKA Country Bubba
    (Older than Dirt)

  5. #5
    Has anybody tried a combination cnc and etching for pcb's. Just coat the pcb with resist(paint will do) and scratch the outline on the cnc and then etch in ferric chloride, just a thought.


  6. #6
    I mill my own pcbs all the time....the win for me is turnaround time (from completing the circuit to having the board in my hand is about 1hr ...on par with chemical etching but the results are more predictable & also the holes are done at the end of the process - and the pcb outline/mount holes sorted). I've tried most CNC pcb milling methods & associated apps,here's what I settled on...

    1. Design cct in Eagle
    2. Export track layer (from the Eagle board) to a gerber file
    3. Import gerber file to cambam - cam it up.
    4. Save g-code
    5. Open g-code in CNC-USB
    6. Probe actual FR4 copper surface with CNC-USB (then use probed data to update the Z height data sourced from your g-code file)
    7. Mill board.

    The problem with milling pcb is one of height irregularities - it doesn't take much error with a V cutter to end up with a track that is not isolated etc....especially with SMD components (which is what I typically use) That's why I went with CNC-USB has an integrated feature called warp (step 6 above).

    It's apprently possible to do a similar thing to 'warp' with an Eagle plugin called pcb-gcode...I tried with mixed/frustrating results.
    Last edited by HankMcSpank; 04-04-2013 at 05:16 PM.

  7. #7
    I really like DipTrace.


  8. #8
    Check out visolate which is quite good, the page has a lot of other useful stuff to.
    If the nagging gets really bad......Get a bigger shed:naughty:

  9. #9
    wrt to pcb milling, I thought visolate would be by saviour...(I spent way too long trying to master it) turns out it was my curse.

    Using voronoi regions sounds like an excellent way of cutting down on track cutting (track isolation) time...turns out it's also an even better way if increasing the stray capacitance on your final pcbs (not by a a *massive* amount)
    Last edited by HankMcSpank; 04-04-2013 at 08:04 PM.

  10. #10
    I would agree with you on that Hank. To have a go at routing pcb's though is a good way to practice with software wise though.
    If the nagging gets really bad......Get a bigger shed:naughty:

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