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  1. #1
    Plod's Avatar
    Lives in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15-04-2014 Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 11.
    I live in Salisbury Wiltshire and I am very interested in what it is possible to achieve at home in my workshop with a desktop CNC routing/drilling machine.

    My background is in electronics manufacture - specifically PCB manf. so I am in the process of starting up a small sideline(Simple Circuits) making PCBs and wish to go to the next level by employing CNC to get greater accuracy and to speed up turnaround.

    My knowledge of CNC is based on what I could output from Graphicode software (as a front end engineer for several companies) , and operating Lenz , Micromat , Trudril and Excellon machines in the work place.

    I have been on the internet looking at Fireball , Microcarve , the Chinese 3020/3040 machines , MYDIYCNC and a number of other similar price/format machines.

    regards to all - Kev

  2. #2
    I think if you're planning on running a business from it, I'd look for something a little stronger than the 3020/3040 machines. You definitely want a machine with ballscrews to get the required accuracy.
    How detailed are the PCBs you're making? Just through hole components or surface mount?
    Old router build log here. New router build log here. Lathe build log here.
    Electric motorbike project here.

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  4. #3
    you may get better results with a self built machine that only has a single purpose.

    find the largest copper clad board you can find for the best cost and build around that.

    use some cheap 12-16mm ball screws, a diy brushless spindle and some miniature profile rail and you could have a very very nice, accurate setup that could be converted to a pick and place machine in the future.


    edit, miniature profile rail maybe over kill but it'd be damn cool.
    Last edited by jcb121; 04-09-2013 at 01:02 PM.

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  6. #4
    i2i's Avatar
    Lives in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 23-12-2016 Has been a member for 7-8 years. Has a total post count of 693. Received thanks 30 times, giving thanks to others 0 times.
    if you're going down the route of a router to drill and maybe machine the boards, an added option would be to have pick and place facilities on the same machine.

    Ooooooops, sorry Jesse, I didn't read your post fully.
    Last edited by i2i; 04-09-2013 at 04:56 PM.

  7. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by i2i View Post
    if you're going down the route of a router to drill and maybe machine the boards, an added option would be to have pick and place facilities on the same machine.

    Ooooooops, sorry Jesse, I didn't read your post fully.
    Whilst rolling you're own is interesting (indeed, a rite of passage around these parts!) & you'll certainly end up with the most suitable machine, it'll likely consume you (as it tends to do with everyone else), I now look at owning a CNC machine as a means to an end (not a 'lifestyle'), so I won't be building anymore machines! (frankly, my engineering skills suck too!)

    If I knew what I know now before I decided on what to do (for milling pcbs) ...I'd look out for something like a simple/small a sable 2015 secondhand (or import one new Sable-2015 CNC ROUTER / ENGRAVER-mill,PCB's,engraving(complete kits) | eBay ), but then upgrade the driving gear to ballscrews (as opposed to the bog standard M10 rod it comes with) ...the sable is actually incredibly well made.

    I've got a 2015 machine ..I was going to upgrade it with ballscrews but then a proper grown up used 3020 fixed gantry (moving table) appeared on the scene & I snagged it....

    http://img.alibaba.com/photo/7350997...ry_RS_3020.jpg

    ...but frankly, now that it's here with me, it seems way overkill to mill 1.6mm pcbs!

    Alas, when it comes to pre-made machines, ballscrews don't seem to appear as standard until you get up to 3020 size machines (& even then, just the higher end ones)

    Oh yeah.... you might want to consider ponying up for CNC-USB software (vs Mach3) as it has auto-levelling built in - and when it comes to milling pcb, a level copper clad board is what you want, what you really really want.

    re using a CNC machine for pick n' place ...of course it can be done & on the face of it, it seems a fantastic idea...but check out youtube & watch videos of those who have turned their CNC machine into a pick & place machines.... talk about slow...... it's akin to owning a truck & expecting it to be as nimble & adept as a stunt motorcycle.
    Last edited by HankMcSpank; 04-09-2013 at 05:36 PM.

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  9. #6
    Plod's Avatar
    Lives in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15-04-2014 Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 11.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    I think if you're planning on running a business from it, I'd look for something a little stronger than the 3020/3040 machines. You definitely want a machine with ballscrews to get the required accuracy.
    How detailed are the PCBs you're making? Just through hole components or surface mount?
    Hi Jonathan
    The PCB's I am making are a variety of conventional build designs and require accuracy for drilled holes and slotting over 6”- 10” range - I really don’t anticipate making many boards over this size , given that the land assigned in most design software is between 0.010” and 0.020” (depending on hole size).
    cheers Kev

  10. #7
    Plod's Avatar
    Lives in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15-04-2014 Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 11.
    Quote Originally Posted by jcb121 View Post
    you may get better results with a self built machine that only has a single purpose.

    find the largest copper clad board you can find for the best cost and build around that.

    use some cheap 12-16mm ball screws, a diy brushless spindle and some miniature profile rail and you could have a very very nice, accurate setup that could be converted to a pick and place machine in the future.


    edit, miniature profile rail maybe over kill but it'd be damn cool.
    Hi JCB121
    Don't mind the idea of kit assembly ,but my workshop is geared for PCB's so do not have any machining equipment.
    cheers for the thought - Kev
    Last edited by Plod; 06-09-2013 at 01:58 PM. Reason: didn't acknowledge/thank the member

  11. #8
    Plod's Avatar
    Lives in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15-04-2014 Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 11.
    Quote Originally Posted by i2i View Post
    if you're going down the route of a router to drill and maybe machine the boards, an added option would be to have pick and place facilities on the same machine.

    Ooooooops, sorry Jesse, I didn't read your post fully.
    Hi i2i
    Definitely not interested in going to pick and place – that's a whole new bag that I cannot afford to get into – Bare conventional PCB's is me – with or without solder mask.
    cheers Kev

  12. #9
    i'm building my second cnc machine and i've had all my metal cut by the suppliers for free and all I'm using is a height gauge and a drill press to put it all together. though if you come up with a design, i'm sure some people on here would happily help you out.

    and ball screws are definitely needed, i would't even bother looking at the Chinese machines that don't have them.
    Last edited by jcb121; 06-09-2013 at 02:03 PM.

  13. #10
    Plod's Avatar
    Lives in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15-04-2014 Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 11.
    Quote Originally Posted by HankMcSpank View Post
    Whilst rolling you're own is interesting (indeed, a rite of passage around these parts!) & you'll certainly end up with the most suitable machine, it'll likely consume you (as it tends to do with everyone else), I now look at owning a CNC machine as a means to an end (not a 'lifestyle'), so I won't be building anymore machines! (frankly, my engineering skills suck too!)
    Totally agree – I think the idea of owning a CNC machine is very sexy and I look forward to that day – but – IT IS A TOOL for achieving a higher output and increased accuracy, too easy to get sidelined by the tech when there is work to be done and money to be made.

    If I knew what I know now before I decided on what to do (for milling pcbs) ...I'd look out for something like a simple/small a sable 2015 secondhand (or import one new Sable-2015 CNC ROUTER / ENGRAVER-mill,PCB's,engraving(complete kits) | eBay ), but then upgrade the driving gear to ballscrews (as opposed to the bog standard M10 rod it comes with) ...the sable is actually incredibly well made.

    I've got a 2015 machine ..I was going to upgrade it with ballscrews but then a proper grown up used 3020 fixed gantry (moving table) appeared on the scene & I snagged it....

    http://img.alibaba.com/photo/7350997...ry_RS_3020.jpg

    ...but frankly, now that it's here with me, it seems way overkill to mill 1.6mm pcbs!

    Alas, when it comes to pre-made machines, ballscrews don't seem to appear as standard until you get up to 3020 size machines (& even then, just the higher end ones)

    Oh yeah.... you might want to consider ponying up for CNC-USB software (vs Mach3) as it has auto-levelling built in - and when it comes to milling pcb, a level copper clad board is what you want, what you really really want.

    re using a CNC machine for pick n' place ...of course it can be done & on the face of it, it seems a fantastic idea...but check out youtube & watch videos of those who have turned their CNC machine into a pick & place machines.... talk about slow...... it's akin to owning a truck & expecting it to be as nimble & adept as a stunt motorcycle.
    Milling PCB's was not even a consideration – but it does offer an attractive alternative to photo/toner circuit printing – as for the CNC-USB software that sounds very useful and although I have heard of the Mach3 s/w don't know much about it's capabilities. PS cheers for alerting me to the Sable - hadn't come across that one before.
    Thanks for your comments HankMcSpank - regards Kev

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