DIY PCBs are the fastest and cheapest way to iteratively prototype circuits, and there’s a lot of great tricks to get the copper layer just the way you want it. But if you’re using through-hole parts, you eventually have to suffer the tedium of drilling a potentially large number of precisely aligned holes. Until now. [Acidbourbon] has built up a very nice semi-automatic PCB drill machine.
Semi-automatic? The CNC machine (with PC-side software) parses the drill file that most PCB design software spits out, and moves an X-Y table under your drill press to just the right spots. The user manually drills the hole and hits enter, and the table scoots off to the next drilling location. All of this is tied together with a simple calibration procedure that figures out where you’ve got the board using two reference drill locations; you initially jog the platform to two reference drill holes, and you’re set.
The CNC conversion of a relatively cheap X-Y table is nicely documented, and the on-board touchscreen and USB interface seem to make driving the machine around painless. Or at least a lot less painful than aligning up and drilling all the holes the old-fashioned way. Everything is open-source, so head on over and check it out. (And while you’re there, don’t miss [Acidbourbon]’s tips and tricks for making PCBs using the toner transfer method.)
Seeing this machine in action, we can’t wait for the fully automatic version.
Continue reading “Semi-Auto PCB Drill Press Makes Drilling Semi-Painless”
Milling machines are nice to have around for precisely drilling holes or removing unwanted material from a part. However, they can be expensive and may not get a lot of use, two reasons why a mill purchase may not make sense for a home shop. [David] didn’t need a mill, he wanted one and he didn’t want to spend a lot of money. He did have an old bench top drill press and a lathe in his shop and thought it would be a good idea to combine them them into a DIY Milling Machine.
The problem with just throwing a milling bit in a drill press and trying to mill metal is that the drill press spindle ball bearings are not made for radial loading. [David] knew this and replaced the stock ball bearings with angular roller bearings. These new bearings would require an axial preload applied to keep the spindle in place. This was done by machining threads into the spindle’s shaft and adding a nut to secure and preload the new angular roller bearings.
[David] did not have an XY Table to donate to the project so he decided to mount the drill press to his lathe and use the lathe axes to move the work piece around underneath the mill. Thick plate steel was welded together to form a hefty bracket that bolted to both the lathe bed and drill press column. And yes, the lathe is still functional and the changeover process is simple. To go from Mill to Lathe; the work piece is removed from the lathe’s cross slide and replaced with the lathe tool holder. That’s it!
Overall, [David] is happy with his conversion. He doesn’t expect his project to be as precise or rigid as a proper milling machine but says he has no problem cutting 1mm deep passes in steel when using a 6mm diameter mill bit.
Drill presses are a staple tool of the typical garage — they aren’t too expensive and are indispensably useful — but have you ever thought of turning it into a spindle sander?
You can buy drum sander kits fairly cheap, but the problem is they’re really difficult to use and really messy too — you’ll have sawdust everywhere in no time. What [Carl’s] done here is created a wood box for his drill press with different size holes for each drum sander bit. By attaching a vacuum cleaner to the box, you can clean up your mess while you’re still doing the work.
Just a note — drill presses aren’t designed to take radial loads like a mill is. If you’re planning on doing some really heavy sanding, adding a bolt through the entire drum sander bit and then coupling it with a fixed bearing inside of your box might be a good idea.
It’s a pretty simple hack, but could save you an additional power tool, and space on your work bench! Have a drill but no drill press? No problem.
Tape decks are fertile hacking ground. In this offering from [Erich] the speed of the motor has been turned into a MIDI instrument. Drive it faster and the pitch rises, slower and it falls. There are all kinds of other magnetic tape hacks around here, this tape delay is a classic.
[Dbever] needed a reason to use a big 7-segment display module. He opened up the drill press at his Hackerspace, Pumping Station One, and added a sensor which shows the RPM of the drill on the display. Hackaday was lucky enough to be invited for a tour of the space last fall.
There’s a lot of hype about 3D printing… and rightly so since it’s the radest; which is even better than being “the most rad”. But if you don’t have access to one that shouldn’t stop you. Here’s an example of making robot parts using polymorph instead of 3D printing (or laser cutting) them.
If you’re living in the east-coast metroplex and are unable to travel to Maker Faire Bay Area this Spring you can still get in on some live hacking. Check out MassHack which takes place the same May weekend but in Boston instead of San Fran.
Blimps; not as cool as quadcopters but orders of magnitude less likely to go down in flames (as it were). Draw some inspiration for your own build from silent_runner. The graceful travel of these lighter-than-air-craft make for an interesting camera platform. Here’s a POV video inside of a church, and some shots from the ground while in the woods. [Thanks Oliver]
We try not to pimp crowd-funding campaigns just for the sake of getting them to the goal. But we hope you’ll agree that the Gamebuino we saw a few months back makes a strong argument for backers. Their Indiegogo for the Arduino-compatible handheld gaming rig is over half-way there after just a couple of days.
[Moogle] wrote in to see if anyone can figure out why his unused electrolytic capacitors are popping. This is the behavior you see in populated caps whose electrolyte dries out. But these are still in his parts bin. Anyone know why they would pop when going unused?
We see a lot of BIOS flashing hacks; but it’s always a handy thing to know about when you get in a bind. Here [Adan] shows us how to reflash a corrupt BIOS using a Tiva C Launchpad board.
Wanting to hack together her own blow gun [Carlyn] scrapped a handheld vacuum cleaner. When she discovered the pump could not easily be converted from suck to blow she made a handheld suction manipulator which picks up paper plates and a few slightly heavier objects.
Unfortunately a drill press is not one of the tools we have in our lair right now. If we did, this tip about using it to help tap threads in a hole would come in really hand.
Retro computing fans will appreciate this Z80 computer build (translated). It’s a fairly large mainboard with plenty of chips, resistors, buttons, and seven segment displays. Excellent. [Thanks Daniel]
We start to drool a little bit when we see a teardown post that shows off a piece of equipment really well. We’ve already reached for a bib to catch the slobber from pawing our way through [David’s] teardown of an HP 6010A bench supply.
Every electronics project of sufficient complexity needs standoffs – little plastic or metal cylinders – to mount boards to one another. Keeping hundreds of little plastic trinkets around doesn’t really fit with the hacker mentality, though: it would be far simpler to keep some Delrin rod stock around to drill and cut standoffs as needed. [HomeCSP] created a device to do just that, allowing him to turn 1/4″ Delrin rod stock into any size standoff he needs.
Before building this device, [HomeCSP] was taking plastic rods to the drill press fitted with a very tiny drill bit for a #2 screw. The problems with that technique should be evident to anyone. The new solution uses an old cordless drill and a 6 inch piece of linear rail, effectively turning some bits of scrap into a horizontal drill press with a stationary bit.
The end result is a machine that can bore a hole straight down a 1/4″ rod. With a box of screws these homebrew plastic rods are much cheaper than off-the-shelf parts and can be made in any length desired.
For when you want something huge machined
Turn your volume down for this video. It’s the HSM-Modal CNC mill carving a full-sized car out of styrofoam, applying clay to the foam core, and machining the clay at 50 meters per minute. Yes, we’ve seen this machine before, but never in action. It only took a little over 24 hours to make this full-size model car.
Microscope into a drill press
If you need to drill some PCBs, [wotboa] has a neat build for you. He built a micro drill press out of a microscope. It’s a damn good idea if you can find a quality microscope base; those things usually have exceptionally high precision. The ‘hack’ part is a $7 Harbor Freight rotary tool, some PVC pipe, and a PWM control for the motor – home-made, natch.
I’m telling you, they need to get [River] out of the library. Work on it [Moffat].
[Alan] made a TARDIS book case, and he decided to share the plans with us. Just the build to combat the severe lack of woodworking and Whovian stuff on Hackaday. Vashta Nerada hopefully not included.
Money can’t buy happiness, but you sure can sell it
[Greg] sent in some info on Disney’s ‘glow with the show’ hats they sell at the California Adventure park. For $25, you get a hat with RGB LEDs in the mouse ears that synchronize with the World of Color show every night. There’s a better description of the hats here, but we’re thinking these are very similar to the Coldplay Xylobands we saw at this year’s Grammys. Anyone want to tear some mouse ears apart?
An exceptionally low-tech radio telescope
[Impulse405] found a poor man’s radio telescope on Instructables and decided to share it with us. [Z0rb] found a 10-foot dish in the garbage and quickly absconded with this retro hardware. After adding a power supply and a meter-based total power receiver, [Z0rb] had a radio telescope that covered wavelengths from 850 to 2200 MHz.