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Fmilburn

4 x 6 cm Projects

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I have had a package of those 4x6 cm pcb boards with 0.1" spacing for a while and realized this evening that I was about to run out.  They are a good and useful size.  Wondering where they all went I rummaged around and found these and there are more scattered about in various enclosed projects.

 

post-45284-0-21851100-1465880771_thumb.jpg

 

I am in the habit of soldering one up if it is on the breadboard and I think there is a fair chance I might use it again.  I like to do this even when I am going to have PCBs fabricated.  From top left and going clockwise they are a RFID BoosterPack reader, a Nokia 5110 BoosterPack, an INA125P BoosterPack paired with a strain gauge, a breadboard BoosterPack, a MSP430G2553 Prototyping Board, and a MSP430G2955 Prototyping Board.  The G2955 is a 38 pin TSSOP so it is on an adapter.   The latest one is the Nokia 5110 I put together this afternoon.

 

post-45284-0-09997700-1465881398_thumb.jpg

 

I had the idea that SMD parts might be directly soldered to these boards.  Here is a 0805 resistor soldered onto a piece of scrap (crooked but OK) with a SOT-223-4 part next to it.  The SOT-223 isn't soldered, I just put it there to show it aligned fairly well.  I ordered an inexpensive selection of 0805 resistors and capacitors and will be using them instead of through hole components to see how they do.

 

post-45284-0-27624900-1465883812_thumb.jpg

 

Meanwhile, I haven't given up having PCBs fabricated, but this is handy.  What I really need want is a CNC mill.

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Meanwhile, I haven't given up having PCBs fabricated, but this is handy.  What I really need want is a CNC mill.

 

I was thinking about using CNC for PCB's, and I made my own software for this

2nd pic forum.43oh.com/topic/3909-msp430f550x-based-logic-analyzer/?p=35562

At that time price for fabricated PCB's was too high.

 

Today, price for fabricated PCB's from China is so low that I don't see any reason for messing with CNC.

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Today, price for fabricated PCB's from China is so low that I don't see any reason for messing with CNC.

 

Main reason for messing with CNC is no wait. Photo-resist etching, same thing. The drawbacks to both of these is the mess and the limitation to double-sided boards and no through plating.

 

Sourcing from a commercial shop in China is days to weeks, depending on quantity, complexity, destination, and holidays.

 

Quality of a commercially made board is likely to be higher, and generally has the bells and whistles of solder mask and screenprinting, but when you need it tomorrow, or today, you sometimes even go as far a sharpie and that sludgie bottle of Ferric Chloride that has been sitting in the cabinet since 1987. This is why I miss my pen plotter. Draw the board. Etch the board. Back in the plotter with a fine point to label the board. Assemble.

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I'd say the main (perhaps only) reason for making your own PCBs is if you enjoy it. Whilst in theory I could make a board in a couple of hours, it would take me 2 weeks to find those spare hours!

It's been a rare incident when I've needed a quick prototype PCB "that" quickly.... and mostly for quick Christmas gifts 1 week before ;-)

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It's been a rare incident when I've needed a quick prototype PCB "that" quickly.... and mostly for quick Christmas gifts 1 week before ;-)

Since the advent of inexpensive one-offs, same for me. But once in a while it is handy to have the capability, especially to prototype a part of a design quickly so the correct design can be sent out in the first place. The main use I have for in-house is in conjunction with me teaching hat. Students mess up a lot, and the rapid turnaround lets them mess up fast and fix it fast.

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The main reason I make things myself is like @@Fred I just enjoy doing it.  Regarding the CNC mill, I guess I should find another reason besides PCB manufacture to justify it.  I think it would be fun to design and make a clock with wooden gears.  That sounds like good justification :-)

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The main reason I make things myself is like @@Fred I just enjoy doing it.  Regarding the CNC mill, I guess I should find another reason besides PCB manufacture to justify it.  I think it would be fun to design and make a clock with wooden gears.  That sounds like good justification :-)

I highly recommend it, if you can justify the cost. It isn't worth cheaping out. I use mine for a variety of things including fitted tool trays (need models for micrometer or planer gauge trays?), machine parts, dinguses for my teaching job, and a slew of other things, including a couple PC boards. It hasn't paid itself off yet in paying work, and I don't think it ever will, for me. I put the money aside over time because I wanted the tool.

 

The learning curve wasn't too bad for me, as I have machining experience and CAD experience, though not much CNC prior to buying the mill. A wooden clock would be a dandy way to learn the basics of CNC and break in a small machine.

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My (homemade) CNC mill is a must for making stuff like enclosures and a lot of other bits and pieces for my projects, without it my creativity would be severely limited. It has enabled me to build stuff like the laser PCB exposer and a CO2 laser engraver/cutter that opens up new possibilities - a bit on the expensive side but fun and very rewarding. For the time beeing all of this is just a hobby for me -  maybe I can make all of this into a money making enterprise down the line...

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