Project: PCB Mill CNC – Built

It’s been a long time since I last posted. The last couple of months have consisted mainly of work, holidays and back-to-uni chaos. Nonetheless, I have found time to work on the CNC. In fact the majority of the mechanics AND electronics have been done.

The current design has not strayed far from the original plan. There have been a few minor changes including adding extra spacers and changing the shape of brackets but nothing too interesting.

The largely finished mill!

The largely finished mill!

All of the electronics are tucked away inside a standard project enclosure into which I drilled a hole for the parallel port and a hole for the power and motor connections.

The electronics are hidden away showing only a parallel port and a tangle of wires for the motors and power. Shame about the tape!

The electronics are hidden away showing only a parallel port and a tangle of wires for the motors and power. Shame about the tape!

Remaining tasks:

-Add a support bracket connecting the horizontal aluminium to the vertical aluminium to minimise wobbling of the drill.

-Properly attach the electronics to the body with bolts rather than tape.

-Insert proper power supply plug and buy power supply

-Test

Unfortunately, with the exception of the last one, none of these tasks can easily be done while I am at university due to lack of tools (although as an engineering student I probably could if I tried hard enough).

Fortunately, none of them seem particularly important as current results look promising and these will merely be icing on the cake.

Yesterday, for initial testing I put a pencil lead into the drill and set it drawing Road Runner on a piece of paper. After a little while the lead fell out (drills aren’t made for this 😦 ), but what it managed to do looked promising.

You can make out Road Runner's wing!

You can make out Road Runner’s wing!

Today I put a 1mm end mill into the drill and set it spinning at 8000rpm. Rather than let the CNC loose, I controlled it myself using the arrow keys to direct the drill over some copper clad board.

Copper clad board with some random copper etched away!

Copper clad board with some random copper etched away!

As you can see, the copper removed nicely, if not a little deep, and left sharp edges. In fact the drill cut through the copper with no stutter at all so I am confident it will be up to the job. I am looking to order some finer end mills, maybe 0.1mm so that I can etch useful circuits!

Hopefully the next post will be sooner.

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