Through hole plating and milling at home

Here’s a PCB fabrication process that makes us envious. It’s pretty darn close to fab-house quality at home. [Cpirius] is using a CNC mill and through hole plating technique to produce his double-sided circuit boards.

The video embedded after the break shows one board from start to finish. It begins with the mill drilling holes through some double-sided copper clad stock. Once the millings have been cleaned off the holes are coated with a mixture of waterproof ink and carbon. This prepares them for plating by making the holes themselves conductive. The board is then run through an electroplating process based on this guide.

Possibly the most interesting part of the process starts 52 seconds into the clip. The mill uses a conductive probe to generate a height map of the entire board. This allows it to vary the routing depth for perfectly cut isolation traces. That final routing process is pictured above.

[Read more...]

Milling a motorcycle engine

Real motorcycle enthusiasts design and mill their own engines. Well, perhaps that’s an overstatement. Certainly it takes to more obsession than enthusiasm to go to these lengths. But this gentleman’s modifications started out simple enough, and managed to make it to the most extreme of hardware fabrications.

The used bike came with a modified camshaft that seemed like a botched job. As he got further into tuning up engine performance the prospect of just replacing the entire thing with his own design started to grow. Using a manually operated milling machine he cut his own molds for the new cylinder head out of wood and sent them off to be forged out of aluminum. They come back in rough shape but he just “filed the cast without mercy” and machined the tolerances to his specifications. Apparently the first test ride had him a bit nervous — he also milled his own brakes for the bike. But after a few times around the block he gained confidence with his work.

[Thanks Carlos]

Guerilla guide to CNC machining

[Ian] wrote in to tell us about the Guerilla Guide to CNC Machining and Resin Casting. He came across it in the reference links to another project and says he wish he knew about it a long time ago. We took a look and there’s a mountain of useful information in the guide, which is written by [Michal Zalewski]. We won’t pretend that we’ve read the whole thing, there’s days worth of information here. But we will. The range of topics includes types of milling machines, milling materials, software options and use, safety, and the list goes on. Bookmark this (don’t forget the second volume), it might be just the thing to get you through the holiday with your family.

Machining an SLR camera from scratch

It took us a while to stop drooling long enough to write about this amazing machining project. [Denis MO] made a single-lens reflex camera from scratch. The banner image above is not the finished product, but just one step in the production chain. [Denis] has been thinking about doing this project for 25 years and finally took the plunge. From the start, the only parts he planned on NOT making himself were the screws, ball bearings, shutter, curtain fabric, and interchangeable lenses. Everything else is his own creation based off of his own design. Spend some time looking over his project. There’s plenty of information and images of both the machining process, and the drawings he mocked up in the design process. We’ve also included a pic of the finished camera and the contact sheet from his test roll of film after the break.

[Read more...]

DIYLILCNC: do-it-yourself CNC mill

DIYLILCNC

The DIY LIL CNC project is the newest member of the homebrew fabrication scene. This is a three-axis CNC mill that can be built by anyone with basic shop skills and about $700 in their pocket. Many of the materials can be acquired from the likes of Home Depot: the basic framework is assembled from Masonite, while other cost-cutting measures include the use of skate bearings and a common Dremel tool for powering the cutting bit. About half of the cost is for the HobbyCNC driver and stepper motor package that runs the show.

The instructions for the DIY LIL CNC are distributed under a Creative Commons license, allowing for modification and distribution with few restrictions. They’re well-written and quite thorough, including all patterns and a complete bill of materials with suppliers, part numbers and costs. As documented, the ’bot can produce parts up to 12 x 14 x 2 inches, but the project’s creators offer some suggestions on adapting the design for larger work. It’s not self-replicating like the RepRap aims for; you’ll need access to a laser cutter for some of the parts. If you can clear that hurdle, this looks like a great introduction to CNC production.

Pong on your wrist

pong_wristwatch

[John] wanted to take a pong clock and put it in a wristwatch form factor. Take an afternoon and pour over his detailed build logs. This multi-year project is done with meticulous cleanliness that makes us jealous. He’s milled the case and buttons himself, achieving a professional look that equals or surpasses the quality of some commercially available “gaming” watches. The project centers around an OLED display driven by a TI MSP430F2013 processor. Don’t miss the video after the break covering prototyping, PCB work, case milling, and the watch in action. Currently, this is the third generation of development but with a project this exciting, are you ever really finished? [Read more...]

RepRap milling machine

three axis cnc robot with vacuum attachment

[Chris] liked Cartesian RepRap idea so much that he decided to design his master’s diploma project around it. Though it uses most of the same parts as the RepRap (even the PCBs), [Chris] has adapted it so it does milling rather than 3D printing.  Most of the parts (such as the stepper motors) were harvested from old inkjet printers and typewriters. The thee-axis CNC machine can already etch and carve styrofoam at an impressively high resolution. To deal with all of the debris that comes with milling, a vacuum attachment (shown attached) was created. [Chris] is considering adapting it so it can work with wood and aluminum as well. Best of all, it uses standard G-code files, just like the RepRap. A publication by [Chris] on the project is also available through his website. No plans to release a kit have been announced yet, but we’ll wait and see. If any commenter knows of an open source CNC milling machine available as a kit, feel free to post a link to it below.

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