Semi-automatic PCB drill press

Kiss the days of breaking bits while drilling through-hole PCBs goodbye thanks to this semi-automatic drill press (translated). Now it’s not going to line up the bit with the exact location of the hole (that would make it a fully automatic drill press). This works by lining up the board manually, then stepping on a pedal to activate the plunging motion of the drill.

A linear motor is responsible for the smooth, accurate motion along the Z-axis. Many hobby setups use a Dremel drill press, or even rely on prayer-based systems such as doing it free-hand with a rotary tool or by using a piece of acrylic as a guide hole. The hobby drill press tends to have some play in it and free-handing with tiny bits that are as fragile as glass both result in far too many broken drill bits. In the video after the break you can see that the linear motion is perfectly plumb with the table of the device, preventing the movements that cause breakage. The addition of the pedal makes it easy to position the boards because you can use both hands.

Having a tool like this takes all of the frustration out of using through-hole parts.

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Drill press for through-hole PCB manufacturing

This drill press was built to drill through-hole printed circuit boards. [Rhys Goodwin] didn’t want to shell out for new equipment, so he dug through his scraps to see what he could accomplish. He already had the power drill, and there was no shortage of wood and fasteners. Once he had a mounting platform for the power tool he grabbed a pair of slides from and old rack-mount server rail. This provides smooth and precise movement, along with a tension sprint to keep the rig elevated above the work surface. Turns out the only thing he didn’t already have was the mini-chuck for gripping the 0.8 mm drill bit.

It seems as if [Rhys] is hacking up a storm lately. This drill press is for use with his Inkjet/Toner PCB process from two weeks ago. We also covered his bulk component salvaging system in Sunday’s Links post.

Drilling precise grids

precision_hole_drilling

Drilling precise grids without a CNC machine can be tough to pull off. [Ookseer] has come up with a nifty method for dilling aligned holes with a drill press. He uses a right-angle jig on a Dremel drill press with stacks of business cards as spacers. The same number of cards is added between the substrate and the jig to space each new hole evenly. This method comes in handy when drilling grids in an enclosure for speakers, temperature sensors, or for an aesthetically pleasing design.

Tools: Proxxon drill press TBM115/TBM220

tbm220ii

A decent drill press is a crucial tool for an electronics lab. We use our drill press to make holes in our own circuit boards, and tap or break traces on existing circuit boards. We’ve used a lot of tools to drill circuit boards — power drills, power drills in “drill press stands”, and high-speed rotary tools — but when we started doing projects on a schedule, it was time for something more reliable.

We first spotted the Proxxon TBM115/TBM220 drill press in the window of a local shop.  Its tiny size and adjustable speed seemed ideal for drilling circuit boards. At $200, this is one of the pricier tools in our lab, but quality bearings and smooth drilling action aren’t cheap.  Read about our experience with this tool below the break.

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