PCB milling tutorial

[Juan Jose Chong] put together a set of videos and a PDF guide to milling printed circuit boards. You’ll find the pair of videos, totaling about twenty-two minutes, embedded after the break. In them, [Jaun] details the techniques used by the IEEE chapter at Texas Tech University to mill PCBs instead of using the traditional method of etching them. We’ve long been a fan of milled PCBs and often dream about the day we can retire the old iron we use for the toner transfer method.

In the tutorial, IsoPro is the software used to control the mill. The CAM files from a PCB design program are imported – they can come from many different programs including EagleCAD. A few setup steps let the operator configure the resolution necessary to mill the correct tolerance and from there the paths that outline each trace are calculated in software. In order to facilitate double-sided boards a reference hole is drilled in the copper clad board to accept a post on the mill table. Tape down the substrate with some foil tape, set the depth of the end mill bit, and let the machine do its thing. [Juan’s] video illustrates how quickly this can produce a rather complicated board, finishing in around 20 minutes.

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Update: Adafruit Eagle library, now with Arduino

Adafruit Industries has just added an Arduino shield footprint to their EagleCAD library. If you don’t know, the Arduino headers use non-standard pin spacing. Learn to deal with it, there’s too many Arduino shields in production to have any hope for a change in the future. This footprint should make it a lot easier to design your own boards. If you use this package make sure you’re getting the library from their github, they’ve been adding parts regularly. Setting up version control will make sure you always have the latest libraries.

[Thanks pt]

Adafruit Eagle library

We love it when a PCB comes out right the first time. We’re careful enough with our designs that if something is wrong it’s usually a footprint problem, like we picked the wrong package for the components. Adafruit is helping to make the design process easier by sharing their Eagle library. Like the Eagle library version control we saw earlier in the month, this library is housed on github making it easy to stay up-to-date. The library includes many components (switches, crystals, IC’s, etc.), and fixes some prolbem-footprints, like 0805 surface mount pads.

Hackaday Design Challenge – yes, a contest!

So, you guys want to show off your skills? We’re giving you the chance. [If you don’t like it, blame Limor – she came up with the original idea]

The Challenge:
Design our next give-away: a business card sized PC Board. We’re not telling you what to make the circuit do, just make it something handy for hacking. Me, I think a PIC programmer/proto board would be handy.

The board must have:

  • The Hackaday logo
  • business card dimensions (90mm x 55mm)
  • reasonably easy to construct
  • A useful circuit (programmer, interface, whatever.)
  • Assembly instructions
  • Parts list

Through hole components are a good idea (Of course, if you can do it with SMD cheaper, and keep it easy to build… Surprise us) Maybe we could surface mount the CPU before we give them away, or we might put together parts kits, but it depends on the winning design(s).

You can put whatever circuit you like on it. PIC
programmer, JTAG interface, flux capacitor… but it has to work!

We want to have a board house make these up for us, so we’ll need the design in a format we can work with. We suggest EAGLE. It’s free and runs on just about everything. (But it limits you to two layers – which should be plenty)

Some hints to help you get the winning design:
Bonus for extra functionality
Clever incorporation of our logo
Completeness – include solder mask, drill info, everything we need to make the board.

The Prizes:
Fabienne is putting up her black 2gb iPod nano engraved with “hackaday.com” “one fresh hack each day” –
It’s been used a bit, and opened up a few times so it’s got some scratches, but hasn’t been modded… yet.

We’ll send you some of the boards of course. I’ve got more good stuff in the works, and I’ll announce more prizes as we get them confirmed.

Submissions: When you’ve got your design ready, Put it online and let us know about it on the tip line. (Or send in a tip and we’ll tell you where to email it if you don’t have anywhere to host it.)

The Deadline: December 25th. Plenty of time to get your design cranked out. Everyone needs a winter break, but We’ll try to have a winner chosen within a week or two of the deadline.