PCB Drill Press Gets a Microscopic Upgrade

PCB Drill Microscope

If you get into more complicated PCB design, you’ll find the need to drill tiny and accurate holes much more often. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a precise way of doing that? Maybe even something as simple as strapping a $10 USB digital microscope to it?

That was [mlerman's] thought anyway, and from the looks of it, it seems to work quite well! If you already have a PCB drill press then it’s just a matter of installing the microscope opposite the drill — align it to the center point with some cross hairs and boom you’re in business.

But if you don’t yet have a PCB drill, [mlerman's] got you covered there too, as he explains in great detail how to modify a cheap drill press into an inverted PCB drill press.

Inverted PCB Drill Press

Wait, why is it inverted? Besides making more room for the USB microscope to sit, it also ensures the microscope lens doesn’t get covered in the PCB fairy dust that would fall on it if it were in a normal orientation.

[via Embedded-Lab]

DIY Mini-Drill Would Make Mad Max Proud

mini-drill

That’s not a prison tattoo gun up there, it’s [Szabolcs] DIY mini drill. Hackaday has been on a bit of a DIY tool kick lately – with improvised saws, grinders, and grinders converted to saws, among other things. We haven’t had any DIY drills yet, though. [Szabolcs] needed a drill for his home-made printed circuit boards. Usually a Dremel or similar rotary tool is pressed into service for drilling PCBs. However, for some reason he didn’t have access to one. [Szabolcs] called upon his inner MacGyver and built a drill from parts he had on hand.

Every drill needs a chuck, or at least a collet holder. This drill’s chuck is sourced from a drafting compass. Long ago in the dark ages before CAD, mechanical drawings were manually drawn up. Companies employed entire drafting departments to draw designs, blueprints, and schematics. These draftsmen used the compass to create accurate circles and arcs. [Szabolcs] re-used the lead holder from the compass as a chuck for his drill. A 540 or 550 brushed sealed endbell can motor, common to the R/C cars spins the drill up. We originally thought [Szabolcs] used an Erector or Meccano set piece as a shaft coupling. The truth is it’s the internals of a Euro style terminal strip. A small tactile button is used to activate the motor. Some electrical tape wrapped around the motor holds the button in place. The tape also makes sure that the user isn’t cut by the sheet metal field ring wrapped around the can. Power for the system can come from just about anywhere, though [Szabolcs] says he uses the 12v rail of an old ATX power supply.

Cheap, Resourceful DIY Mini CNC Router/Mill Contraption

next-milling-machine-iso

Few Hackaday Readers would disagree with the classic phrase: Necessity is the mother of invention. That statement is certainly no exaggeration when it comes to this mini 3-axis CNC Machine. The builder, [Jonathan], needed a way to prototype circuit boards that he designed. And although he admittedly doesn’t use it as much as he intended, the journey is one of invention and problem solving.

[Jonathan] started from the ground up with his own design. His first machine was a moving gantry style (work piece doesn’t move) and ended up not performing to his expectations. The main problem was alignment of the axis rails. Not becoming discouraged, [Jonathan] started on version 2. This time around the work piece would move in the X and Y directions like a conventional vertical milling machine. The Porter-Cable laminate trimmer would move up and down for the Z axis. It is clear that the frame is built specifically for this project. Although not the prettiest, the frame is completely functional and satisfactorily stiff for what it needs to do.

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: June 22, 2012

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.

Turning a rotary tool into a PCB drill press

Drilling holes in PCBs is nearly always an exercise in compromise; the holes are small, precision is paramount, and the common solutions, such as a Dremel drill press, aren’t of the highest quality. In a quest to find the best way to drill holes in PCBs, [reboots] even went so far as to get a pneumatic dental drill, but nothing short of a high-quality micro drill press would do. Not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars to drill a few holes, [reboots] did the sensible thing and made one from scratch.

[reboots] ended up buying a Proxxon Micromot 50 after reading the consistently good reviews around the Internet. To use this rotary tool as a drill press required more work, though. Two precision steel rods from a dot matrix printer were salvaged and pieces of aluminum C-channel and small bearings were bolted together into a very high-precision drill press. Only hand tools were used to build this drill press, and the results are amazing.

[reboots] was originally inspired to check out Proxxon tools from one of Hack a Day’s rare tool reviews. The Proxxon TBM115/220 earned the skull ‘n wrenches seal of approval (and found its way into other Hack a Day-ers labs), but sometimes a few hundred dollars is too much of an investment for something only used occasionally. Considering [reboots]‘ scrap aluminum drill press is a better tool than the sloppy consumer rotary tool presses, we’ll call this a success.

PCB drill from R/C car parts

[Sid] makes a few PCBs a month and the hardest part of his fabrication process is always drilling the through-holes. He has a PCB hand drill that usually results in a sore index finger. After a few unsuccessful attempts of using a full-size electric drill and not wanting to invest in a commercial solution, [Sid] made a PCB drill from a broken R/C car.

The toy car was donated by [Sid]‘s 4-year-old after a terrible crash. [Sid] took the gearbox from the car and added a small circuit to control the direction of the drill. After attaching the drill chuck to the former R/C car axle and adding the power leads to a 5 Volt adapter, a PCB drill press was born.

Most of the parts for this build were salvaged from the toy car’s radio control circuit. Except for the chuck from [Sid]‘s hand drill and a few switches, everything on this build was pulled from a broken remote control car. While the build is a lot simpler than this semi-automatic PCB drill, [Sid]‘s drill seems to work well. Check out the demo video after the break.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

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