Semi-Auto PCB Drill Press Makes Drilling Semi-Painless

DIY PCBs are the fastest and cheapest way to iteratively prototype circuits, and there’s a lot of great tricks to get the copper layer just the way you want it. But if you’re using through-hole parts, you eventually have to suffer the tedium of drilling a potentially large number of precisely aligned holes. Until now. [Acidbourbon] has built up a very nice semi-automatic PCB drill machine.

Semi-automatic? The CNC machine (with PC-side software) parses the drill file that most PCB design software spits out, and moves an X-Y table under your drill press to just the right spots. The user manually drills the hole and hits enter, and the table scoots off to the next drilling location. All of this is tied together with a simple calibration procedure that figures out where you’ve got the board using two reference drill locations; you initially jog the platform to two reference drill holes, and you’re set.

The CNC conversion of a relatively cheap X-Y table is nicely documented, and the on-board touchscreen and USB interface seem to make driving the machine around painless. Or at least a lot less painful than aligning up and drilling all the holes the old-fashioned way. Everything is open-source, so head on over and check it out.  (And while you’re there, don’t miss [Acidbourbon]’s tips and tricks for making PCBs using the toner transfer method.)

Seeing this machine in action, we can’t wait for the fully automatic version.

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Nerf gun converted to CO2 powered semi-automatic

[Philysteak527] modified a Nerf rifle, making it semi-automatic thanks to the powers of compressed air. This is not a simple change to make, and rests on his ability to design and manufacture a bolt-action that fits in the gun, works with the Nerf ammo, and uses a CO2 canister and solenoid valve for the firing action. Knowing that, it’s not surprising to find that he’s an engineering student at Stony Brook University. He started with some POM, or polyoxymethylene plastic sold under the brand name Delrin, and used a CNC lathe to machine the parts for the bolt. Add in some brass fittings, a solenoid, tubing, and the electronics and you’re in business.

We’ve embedded the test footage after the break. Looks like the new internals allow a rather fast firing rate (maybe 2-3 shots per second?) and achieve a distance between seventy and one hundred feet.

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