Project: Analogue Tape Delay – Etching PCB

Another opportunity to test out my CNC!

Sadly, through no fault of the CNC, what should have taken about a 45 minutes ended up taking about 2.5 hours!

The PC I use to drive the CNC is a 15+ year old laptop running Windows XP. This makes it very prone to blue screening and it crashed TWICE during the whole process. Given that it takes about 20 minutes to boot and become stable this results in a massive waste of time. It also meant that each time I restarted the software I had to realign the board which resulted in a loss of accuracy. Nonetheless the board is now fully etched.

I took a slightly different approach to what I have done before. Usually I do all of the drilling by hand after I etch, however I thought it would be neater if the CNC drilled the holes before it etched them.

Not wanting to risk drilling through the PCB and into the CNC, I compromised and decided to have the CNC drill 0.7mm into the PCB, making it really easy for me to drill the rest of the way later on.

The final board! Pretty pleased.

The final board! Pretty pleased.

The board with only the holes drilled. Looks pretty cool.

The board with only the holes drilled. Looks pretty cool.

Obviously in future I want to avoid situations like this. Therefore I have decided to try and get Grbl working.

Grbl is a system that allows any computer with a USB port to control a CNC parallel port interface using an Arudino Uno in the middle. This will save me lugging around a massive old laptop and will hopefully be more reliable 🙂

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