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Idea's on a cheap, nice CNC project

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  • #16
    Take a look on http://www.milinst.co.uk/

    Their three axis machine is just about as simple as you can get. I think you may be able to download the plans.

    I used their code as a base, be re-wrote it entirely for the PCB drill at work (now mine!). We made our boards by photo etching, then drilled them. Double sided was usual and we made boards up to A4 in size.
    Paul Compton
    www.morini-mania.co.uk
    http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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    • #17
      Thanks so much for the link EVguru, it will be extremely helpful. while I would prefer photo etching, its getting to hard to do myself (cant get spary new resist anymore, rub on stuff sucks for detail etc). So far, looks like once I have the mechanical stuff done, the rest will be pretty easy. MANY packages with the 3 axis controller/motors/PS all designed to run from MACH3.
      Looks like the big question now is if the schem/PCB software Im using will generate the right G file for Mach3 (Design Spark generates "Gerber code", which hopefully is the same thing as G code used by Mach3. Getting tired of learning new stuff all the time LMAO)

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      • #18
        Gerber code is not the same as the Gcode used by Mach3.

        But you can convert from one to the other:

        http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawik...itle=Main_Page

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        • #19
          I have had good luck machining copper using TapMagic for Aluminum. I don't know how it would work on a PC board but might be worth a try. Just the thinnest film of it should be enough.
          Kansas City area

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          • #20
            Thanks very much for info Doorknob, that really helps a lot, as it seems I need a converter like this to allow Mach3 or similar to run anything DS would generate.

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            • #21
              Glass epoxy is very abrasive. I used to use one of the machines made by T-TECH to mill PCBs about 15 years ago. The drills and
              cutters were carbide.
              Location: Long Island, N.Y.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by vincemulhollon View Post
                I've found thin PCB material to be a challenge to work-hold because its thin and flexy and nothing grabs and tears quite like copper.
                I don't typically make my own PCB's because as I mentioned earlier, they are so cheap ($1.60/sq. in), it's not worth my time, but occasionally I do mill some very simple boards such as for mounting LEDs. I use a 3M thin double sided tape (from Digikey: I can look up the part number if you're interested) to hold the PC board down and it doesn't budge but yet it peels off easily. Only problem I have is the dust: keep a vacuum handy and try not to inhale it!

                Lyndon
                Last edited by lwalker; 01-15-2014, 06:53 PM. Reason: grammar

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Stern View Post
                  while I would prefer photo etching, its getting to hard to do myself (cant get spary new resist anymore, rub on stuff sucks for detail etc).
                  We always used pre-coated. We could get two tracks between 100 mil spaced IC pads if we needed to. Most of our work was one offs and when we were doing on a regular bases we could design and make a PCB quicker than we could build it on stripboard.
                  Paul Compton
                  www.morini-mania.co.uk
                  http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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                  • #24
                    Yep, used to do the same, only like spray on neg resist, which allowed me to cut the board size, make reg holes, spray it, quick UV exposure, develop and etch in under an hour. Since all artwork was photo reduction of taped double size layouts (didnt have CAD stuff back then lol) making them allowed trace flaws to be found and fixed before a 10+ prototype run.

                    Anyway, Im planing on making this unit sturdy enough to also do aluminum and possible some fine steel engraving work ... just in case lol. Always like to build things a little MORE than required.

                    So, guess I start with the frame and gantry and get that right before worrying about anything else

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                    • #25
                      A number of folks have given great advice on how excellent mail order PCB's can be, and also how affordable.

                      But even if you end up going that route, I still encourage you to get into CNC routing. You will learn so much with the project, and adapting to CNC machining of parts will be really healthy for your brain.

                      To get your feet wet, you might try using an arduino with steppers or servos to experiment.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by lwalker View Post
                        I use a 3M thin double sided tape (from Digikey: I can look up the part number if you're interested) to hold the PC board down and it doesn't budge but yet it peels off easily.
                        If it's not too much trouble to look it up, I'd appreciate the part number for the double-sided tape that you use.

                        Thanks...

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Glug View Post
                          A number of folks have given great advice on how excellent mail order PCB's can be, and also how affordable.

                          But even if you end up going that route, I still encourage you to get into CNC routing. You will learn so much with the project, and adapting to CNC machining of parts will be really healthy for your brain.

                          To get your feet wet, you might try using an arduino with steppers or servos to experiment.
                          Well I sure appreciate everyone's help, but no worries, I WILL continue with the CNC project. Havent played with the arduino stuff, but spent 20+ years making custom hardware/software [machine code ONLY] around specialized MPU like the 68705, 6900 series ... and recently, the single chip PIC units).

                          I guess maybe some dont look at things the same way as me when it comes to projects. I always wanted a hydraulic press but never got one because I could not "justify" having one .... I had no use for it. Once I made my mill and started making other things I had a need for broaching ....... and THAT gave justification to a press. Also, I was in bad need for a sheer and bender. The 3 in HF one I got was really a hunk of crap and simply wouldn't cut or bend the sheet steel I use (stainless and 16 gauge CR) ... SO .... NOW a hydraulic Press can be justified.

                          Same with this project, I have always wanted one but couldn't justify the cost of a project with no use (Im not a carved art type of person). However, since I started working on a gauge cluster for my bikes, PCB's were needed .... and BLAM! now I can justify it. This really has about 1% to do with PCB's and 99% to do with A PROJECT that can be JUSTIFIED Dont think many here get that, maybe its just my posting isnt clear lol.

                          Im full steam ahead on this and already looking for a place to find aluminum, especially formed type (shaped channel stuff etc). I will concentrate only on making a solid base and gantry with rock solid and accurate slides (x-y-z) and then once its good enough move onto the easy stuff (electrics)

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                          • #28
                            Not a problem. I try to keep at least one label from everything I buy if it's not an item I track so I just have to look in the drawer.

                            The 3M part # is 1/2-5-9088, Digikey's P/N is 3M11464-ND. 1/2" double sided tape 5 yards, $3.90 each qty 1.


                            Originally posted by doorknob View Post
                            If it's not too much trouble to look it up, I'd appreciate the part number for the double-sided tape that you use.

                            Thanks...

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Stern View Post
                              Well I sure appreciate everyone's help, but no worries, I WILL continue with the CNC project. Havent played with the arduino stuff, but spent 20+ years making custom hardware/software [machine code ONLY] around specialized MPU like the 68705, 6900 series ... and recently, the single chip PIC units).

                              I guess maybe some dont look at things the same way as me when it comes to projects. I always wanted a hydraulic press but never got one because I could not "justify" having one .... I had no use for it. Once I made my mill and started making other things I had a need for broaching ....... and THAT gave yjustification to a press. Also, I was in bad need for a sheer and bender. The 3 in HF one I got was really a hunk of crap and simply wouldn't cut or bend the sheet steel I use (stainless and 16 gauge CR) ... SO .... NOW a hydraulic Press can be justified.

                              Same with this project, I have always wanted one but couldn't justify the cost of a project with no use (Im not a carved art type of person). However, since I started working on a gauge cluster for my bikes, PCB's were needed .... and BLAM! now I can justify it. This really has about 1% to do with PCB's and 99% to do with A PROJECT that can be JUSTIFIED Dont think many here get that, maybe its just my posting isnt clear lol.

                              Im full steam ahead on this and already looking for a place to find aluminum, especially formed type (shaped channel stuff etc). I will concentrate only on making a solid base and gantry with rock solid and accurate slides (x-y-z) and then once its good enough move onto the easy stuff (electrics)
                              Sounds like me. I'm a bike guy too, mostly tricked out Ducatis. And I'm addicted to this new maching stuff. So far within the last few months I've bought a new mill, rebuilt a used lathe, spent a fortune on tooling, got a HF bandsaw coming tomorrow and can't help thinking I need to build a CNC machine, even though I know nothing about programming or what these things do!!
                              Here's who I've been following lately and just sent him an email about his "kit".
                              Www.neo7cnc.com
                              So much to learn, money to spend!!!
                              Steve

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                              • #30
                                I was just thinking about this again today- the making of pc boards. My latest 'thing' had been surface mount, but using standard components. That way no holes except for mountable devices and mounting holes. It wasn't a big deal for me to lay an ic into a channel, then bend the tips of the leads over to make little feet for surface mounting. So much depends on the size of the layout and the components that are going to be used.

                                At any rate I stayed with etchant, so the real bear of the whole thing was doing the artwork on the board itself. I never did like the iron-on method for the resist, and today I was thinking about how a cnc machine could be used to 'blast away' a pattern on a board that would be solidly coated with a resist of some type. Maybe a micro-bead blast method? I don't know what resolution would be possible- just an idea anyway. The blasting might etch into the copper as well, but that would just ease the job for the etchant later. The main idea behind all this as I was thinking about it today was to eliminate the need to machine the copper, with its attendant requirement for a sturdy machine and 'expensive' cutting bits, as well as the potential damage to the pc board itself.

                                When comparing results, which would give a better and/or finer result- physically machining the board using a cutting tool, or a blasting process?

                                I allowed myself to actually consider an old technology- use a pattern follower to guide the cutting or blasting head. Place your paper pattern in one side of the machine and start the automated process of scanning the pattern and raising/lowering the cutter in response. I realize that this is crude compared to cnc, but would not require control software- just motors to drive the axes and a simple indexing arrangement to create a mechanical raster on the board.
                                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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