May 2012 Archives

First real milled pcb board (almost)

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Been busy tonight. I almost have the hang of this milling thing. My traces are still way too thin, so I need to work on the parameters. Some of it is because of run out, but most is just learning the parameters.

Using version of pcb-gcode, here are my settings:

Etch Options
  • Etch top
  • Probe & auto level
  • Etch depth: -0.003
  • Isolation default: 0.005
  • Isolation maximum: 0.03
  • Isolation step size: 0.005
  • Etch tool size: 0.01
  • Spot drill holes depth: -0.011
  • X Y Rate: 9 in/m
  • Z Rate: 10 in/m (my machine maxes out at 3)
  • Probe grid size: 0.25
  • Tool probe max: -0.1
  • Probe Traverse Height: 0.04
  • Probe depth: -0.02
  • Probe feed speed: 20 in/m
  • Probe Z speed: 2.36 in/m
General options
  • Gen top outlines
  • Spot drill holes depth -0.011
  • Isolation
    • Default: 0.005
    • Max: 0.03
    • Step size: 0.005
  • Etch tool size: 0.01
  • Z High: 0.1
  • Z up: 0.05
  • Z down: -0.003
  • Drill depth: -0.032
  • X Y speed: 9 in/m
  • Z speed: 10 in/m
I created the board in Eagle. The traces are supposed to be 24mil thick. Here's a picture of the layout:


Here's the result:
Milled PCB Board
The traces are really thin! Not sure what to change to get them thicker...

Thin traces
Any advice would be appreciated!

Pushing the limits of my soldering abilities

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My desktop CNC is suffering from noise - electrical noise. The steppers sporadically jump back and forth, which causes no end of grief. With the big guy in garage, I solved this by choking the machine - literally, I applied 4 or 5 chokes - iron cores to various power and data cords to settle things down. For the small guy, I tried a few chokes, but that didn't help. I figured I needed noise filtering caps. I stumbled across a little bag of 0.01uF SMD caps, and then was hit with inspiration - I built a capacitor network. I cut a 7 pin male header, removed on pin and replaced it with a bent piece of paper clip. Next I carefully one by one laid a cap across the gap between a pin and the wire. Finally I managed (after a few tries) to solder each one in place.

0.01uF cap network