Tour of Advanced Circuits – A PCB Manufacturer

Although not a hack in itself, many of you may be interested in seeing how a printed circuit board is made in the manufacturing world.  This tour of Advanced Circuits does a good job of explaining the process. The article explains how a PCB will go through a CAD/CAM review, drilling, deburring, and the various chemical etch, plating, and curing processes.

Although many hackers make their own PCBs, having it professionally done can be a good option depending on how many copies are needed. One benefit of this is that PCBs can be checked by an optical inspection process, or even by a “flying lead” machine which works by contacting leads automatically in a computer controlled setup.

A video of this incredible machine is included after the break.  Around 0:26 is when it really starts to get going. Continue reading “Tour of Advanced Circuits – A PCB Manufacturer”

How to Make a Hand Drill out of a Pencil Sharpener

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. [Jason] was in such a situation where he needed to install some safety railing at his grandmother’s house. He didn’t have the necessary tools available, like a drill, so he fashioned one himself out of a pencil sharpener and some fittings and wire that he was able to find.

Although crude, and probably not what one would choose to use if an actual drill was available, this “drill-pencil-sharpener” actually does a pretty decent job of cutting through plywood as seen in the video after the break. Continue reading “How to Make a Hand Drill out of a Pencil Sharpener”

Drill-based Kinect camera

[Brett Graham] and [David Cox] are taking the Kinect out into the world thanks to this handheld hack they call the Drill of Depth. Apparently, the Kinect wants 12V at 1A which is quite easy to provide with a rechargeable power tool like this Ryobi drill. The setup features a 4.3″ touchscreen display, connected to the Gumstix Overo Air that is running Linux. They claim that there’s a “legitimate scientific reason” for building the device but they’re not sharing it yet.

So what would you use this for? We wonder if it would be possible to roll a GPS into the mix, then use post processing from the captured data to recreate the environment in a virtual setting? Imagine if a weekend spent walking around campus and processing the results let you model your University and make it an add-on level for your favorite game. Or perhaps this could be paired with a regular camera to generate high-quality 3D skinning data for Google Earth. That’s what we came up with, what do you think?

Halloween Props: This drill makes your head spin

[Nollie551] sent us a demonstration of his head spinning yard prop. Adding a possessed child as part of your Halloween display is a nice touch. But when her head starts to spin (think: The Exorcist) as trick-or-treaters saunter by it should scare the life out of them. You can see that all it took is a jig to hold an inexpensive power drill in place. He didn’t include details of how this is hooked up but we think it would be a great way to use that drill switch hack that [Ben Krasnow] did a while back.

Join us after the break for some video.

Continue reading “Halloween Props: This drill makes your head spin”

Beefing up a cheap drill motor

[Rob] just finished reinforcing a cheap drill motor. He picked up the tool at Harbor Freight and ditched the case. The plastic retaining ring was replaced with a thick metal washer which he machine The washer uses three bolts to attach to the mounting plate that he welded together. We’re not exactly sure what he’s got in mind as he only mentioned that this will be used with a robot. We wouldn’t mind having one of these as a bench motor but there must be hundreds of uses now that it can be attached to just about anything. It seems Harbor Freight has become popular as hacking’s raw material source. The last example we saw of this was a welding table made from a utility cart.

Controlling an AC drill using one PWM connection

This peculiar setup allows [Ben Krasnow] to control an alternating current device using one pin on a microcontroller. He’s experimenting with a power drill and has relocated the trigger circuitry that makes it spin. On that board he found a variable resistor combined with a capacitor which control a triac, actuating the speed of a drill. [Ben's] solution works great and isolates the drill from the control circuitry. He replace the variable resistor with a cadmium sulfide photoresistor (basically a variable resistor whose resistance depends on the intensity of light). Pulse-width modulation is used to adjust the brightness of an LED shining on that photoresistor and thereby affect the speed of the drill. This is such as simple alteration to the drill we’d call it MacGyver-esque.

See a demonstration after the break.

Continue reading “Controlling an AC drill using one PWM connection”

Brighten up your PCB drilling station

Being able to see what you’re doing can be the hardest part of drilling the through holes in those freshly etched printed circuit boards. We don’t know why we didn’t come up with this, but [Markus Gebhard] solved his shadowy woes with his 20-LED Dremel light ring. Honestly, how many times have we seen lights rings in photography without putting it together that a light ring is perfect for this purpose. So kudos to [Markus], now we’ve got to go and dig up some surface mount LEDs and uncork the copper chloride.