Surface Mount Milling and Soldering

One of the major goals I had when I started working on milling PCBs was to be able to reliably mill boards with surface mount footprints - a number of parts I want to use are only available in that format and I am hoping to reduce the size of…

PCB Milling Updates

My PCB milling work flow is working well for single sided boards with through hole components. I am still working on support for surface mount devices and double side boards but the capability I have now is enough to speed up the progress on my queue of projects. This post…

Seven PCB Milling Tips

After a lot of weekends of trial and error I finally have my PCB milling process working. In this post I share some things I have learned along the way - hopefully it will make it easier for anyone else trying to develop the same process. 1. Be Consistent This…

Automating PCB Layout for Milling

This post describes pcbpack, a Python script that automates the process of laying out multiple PCBs on a single panel for CNC milling. The tool is part of my gctools package, a Python framework and set of tools for manipulating gcode available on GitHub. When I started learning how to…

Massage Your Gcode With Python

Since I first acquired my CNC machine I started building a set of tools in Python to let me generate and manipulate gcode files. I have now released this code on GitHub under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license in the hope it will be useful to others as well. Disclaimer:…

CNC Probing

When you are milling PCBs with a CNC having a level surface is extremely important and can be very difficult to achieve. This post describes some of the techniques I used to get a level surface so I could mill PCBs with reasonable quality. Milling a PCB requires cutting away…

CNC Updates

It has been a long time since the last post but I certainly haven't been idle in the Lab. Most of my time has been spent working on my larger CNC machine (a CN3020T) including a number of control board redesigns and fine tuning a PCB milling workflow. In my…

A Simple CNC Machine - Part 3

Another update on my mini-CNC project - progress has been a little slower than I hoped for but I've reached an important milestone now - moving motors! As you can see there are some issues with the precision of the movement - each of those moves is supposed to be…

A Simple CNC Machine - Part 2

In this second post about my small CNC machine I walk through the process of etching a PCB and building up the controller circuit. The board layout I came up with is shown above - there are more jumper wires than I would have liked and it is not exactly…

A Simple CNC Machine - Part 1

I have been trying to get a replacement CNC controller board up and running for a few months now - fighting with LinuxCNC and a cheap Chinese Blue Board controller I bought off eBay. Although I can get it basically operational - enough to cut simple shapes out of MDF…