PCB making CNC machine designs


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  1. #1
    Fanatical Contributor top204's Avatar
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    Default PCB making CNC machine designs

    For those of you who use a CNC machine to make PCBs or are thinking of using a CNC to make PCBs, please post on this thread the machine you use, or want to use. If you have one, why do you use it, and what do you think of it. Additional pictures will be great to see.

    Also any additions that your machine has had, and again, why.

    It would also be of great benefit to outline any workarounds required or methods used to get excellent results. i.e. Milling bits, Speeds, Fastenings, stepper controllers, spindles etc...

    If we were to create a CNC machine to make PCBs, what would you like it to contain and do etc...

    Also remember, if the machine can create PCBs it can also, very easily, create front and back panels for your projects.
    Last edited by top204; 26th December 2015 at 17:19.

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  • #2
    Fanatical Contributor top204's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    In order to start this thread.

    About 3 years ago I purchased a Chinese CNC 6040 machine (I always thought it was a 3020 but it isn't) and it worked fine. However, recently, I decided to try and make it even better by adding new stepper controllers and a new spindle motor.

    The Chinese CNC6040 stepper controllers tend to have a microstep of 8, which is great, but I wanted a microstep of 16 or 32 so that even finer detail could be obtained. The CNC machine that I purchased had a mains operated spindle motor with a flexible shaft leading to the spindle cutter. I always found this a bit too noisy, and because it used graphite brushes these often had to be cleaned. I decided to get a brushless spindle motor.

    Upon searching for such items on the internet and doing research as to what they were, I found two very good products.

    The stepper motor controllers are based upon the THB6064AH chip, which has excellent reviews and is capable of 8, 16, 32, and 64 microsteps. It also operates at 24 Volts and supplies up to 4.5 Amps, which is ideal for the stepper motors already on the CNC machine. The board is shown below:

    Click image for larger version

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    I purchased three of these for X, Y and Z.

    Once fitted into the original controller case, Mach3 was adjusted to take into account the 16 microstep instead of the original 8. Again, this was very straightforward. I tried 32 and 64 microstepping, and although they offered very good accuracy, I found them a little too slow for my taste, but I will probably move to 32 microstep in the future. Simply because I can, not because it is required.

    The brushless spindle motor had some very good reviews. The motor, its PSU, its mounting, and its speed controller are shown below. All were obtained as a single package:

    Click image for larger version

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    I had to make a new bracket to fit on the CNC machine's Z axis for the new motor holder, but this was quite straightforward.

    The results are excellent. The spindle motor is both efficient and very quiet, and the stepper controllers provide extreme accuracy.

    The CNC6040 machine was very good to start off with, but now is a marvelous device.

    A future upgrade will be to add a USB controller board instead of the parallel port controller supplied. This is because the PC that is controlling the CNC machine is now getting quite old (approx 10 years old) and new PCs don't have a parallel port. But a board can be purchased to give new PCs a parallel port. However, I'd like to operate it using a laptop, as my workshop is running out of room!
    Last edited by top204; 28th December 2015 at 12:21.

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  • #3
    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    This will be an exciting thread, here is my CNC machine not fully set up yet, the spindle is water cooled which underneath the bench.
    Inside the control box is one pcb with the three drivers on it not sure what the micro steps would be. Trying to find the info on it and change the spindle controller from reading hertz to RPM.
    Tunings to do list.
    1. Upgrade the cables to shielded cables
    2. Add limit switches to all axis
    3.sort out the probe for pcb (find out which pin to connect to)

    I've read a lot of people have upgraded using the gecko controller but USB sounds the better option not seen any software or controller yet (well not really looked)I have seen one which costs about 200-250 will serif I can find it again
    Les just had a quick look at those controllers cheap enough on e-bay what is the controller that connects to the parallel port ?
    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by chuckieboy; 25th December 2015 at 21:43.
    Steve

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    Fanatical Contributor top204's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    One of the things I didn't have to do was upgrade the cables to shielded, even though many users have done. I've never had any problems with the steppers. It certainly would be a benefit though.

    The best USB CAM software I have seen is the Planet USB CNC. The software is absolutely excellent and very simple to use. I've only used the downloadable demo, but intend to buy it when I get a USB controller. The software is actually a good price at 69 euros.

    I added limit switches to the machine, but have never needed them. Adding them is very straightforward and setting up Mach3 to use them is really simple. Just get 3 micro switches and fit them on X, Y and Z. I had to bend the extension metal that comes with them just enough so that the gantry pressed them at the correct positions.

    The controller that connects to the parallel port is the one supplied with the machine. It was very easy to add the new stepper motor boards to this interface, after first removing the original controller boards.

    You have a nice clear space for your machine, which, as you now know, is just what it needs. Also remember to always keep it free from milling dust and other debri, as it soon adds up. I use the workshop's vacuum cleaner on it just after a side has been milled or cut etc... I can see the brush on the bottom right of the picture and the machine looks very clean indeed.

    I also look forward to this thread being filled.
    Last edited by top204; 25th December 2015 at 22:19.

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  • #5
    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    That's the one Les, Planet CNC was the one I was thinking off
    Once I get a bit more use it I shall have to build the DIY version and give it a try before I decide to buy it which you can get it from the UK that comes with the licence from here
    http://www.zappautomation.co.uk/elec...ontroller.html
    Costs 204 with the VAT plus postage
    My layout is almost complete now and have got an hover under there now to keep things tidy.
    Steve

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    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Les what to you think about these stepper motor drivers ?
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CNC-Steppe...CJhOz1YgJNZHLw
    Steve

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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    I've read on the planet USB CNC forum that the USB controllers available from China are still usable with the latest software and only a key file needs to be purchased, because, as usual, the Chinese boards have pirated software with them. Which is usually very outdated and no upgrades can be done, as well as being unfair to the creators.

    I've looked at the latest Mach4 CAM software, but it still looks, somewhat, like 1990s software IMO. Mach3 is very good, but it does have some issues concerning PCB making. i.e. not importing Gerbers or Excellons etc...

    The Planet USB CNC software reads Gerber and Excellon files and does the isolation routing. What I've tested, it seems to work well. Apparently, it also does electrical Z probing.

    I've just gone and had a look at the stepper driver you posted, but it does not say what the chip is that it's using.

    I've had a look at its PDF, but cannot make too much sense of how many microsteps it is capable of.

    Without the chip details it's not possible to give any thoughts on the unit.

    I imagine further searches on the internet will give more details concerning the internals of the unit, but I couldn't find it, can you?

    I highly recommend the stepper controllers that I got. They work wonderfully.
    Last edited by top204; 27th December 2015 at 11:15.

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    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    I know it's expensive but at a guess I take it no other CNC controller would work with that I've seen there's plenty of Chinese clones out there that really don't work with the software. Not sure how limited the DIY version with software and I presume you still have to have licence for DIY version.
    I found a link for a data sheet for one similar one but the link I posted earlier may be a Chinese clone and may differ. I think I will see how I get on with this one before I start upgrading it but would like a USB version.
    http://www.leadshine.com/UploadFile/Down/M542d.pdf
    Steve

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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Judging by that datasheet, the driver looks very good indeed, and price per panel is not too bad. It's a shame we can't see a circuit diagram of it, or a block diagram, so the chipset can be judged.

    It has a 128 microstep, Wow! I'd use the 128 microstep for the Z axis, as depth accuracy is paramount, and speed is not that big an issue with Z. Actually, after saying that, I think I'll move my Z axis to 64 microstep tomorrow and see if it improves matters.

    I know that in the past I've seen Chinese USB controllers that will work with the Planet software, even on their forum they have discussed it. They even have a DIY version of a board on their website that uses a PIC18F4550 device. They don't have the source code for download, but the HEX file is available. This is the one that I'll eventually have, just to make sure it all works. Then purchase a Mk3 version, if required.
    Last edited by top204; 28th December 2015 at 12:24.

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    Prolific Poster RGV250's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Hi,
    I have 2 of the Leadshine units in a mill I am attempting to convert for the X,Y axis, when I get back from Xmas in the sun I will take a couple of piccies of the internals if you wish. I think it might be overkill for a little 6040 (or 3020) as they drive NEMA23 (or small 34's).
    For this machine I have a Ethernet controller from Eding cnc http://www.zappautomation.co.uk/elec...ernet-265.html which I have been told is really good but it runs it's own software (which I have also been told is really good) but obviously I am struggling with the learning curve where Mach3 might have been a better option.

    I am really looking forward to adding to this thread if possible as I also have a 3020 from CarvingCNC (bought for PCB work) but not really got to using it yet (got to learn Eagle first). They have changed name but this is the nearest I can find http://www.omiocnc.com/products/x3-3...-engraver.html I went for this as it had ballscrews etc and seemed to get better reviews than ebay ones but who knows, only time will tell.

    Hi Les,
    Interesting you mention 64 & 128 microstepping as I discussed this at a model engineering exhibition and the general concensus there was not to go past 1/4 stepping as there was no point? it might have something to do with the mass of the machines?

    I am also considering a vacuum table to hold the PCB down as I have a vacuum veneer press, I thought this would be a good idea as it would hold the middle of the board down as well, only problem I can see is trying not to drill where I have the air holes.

    Regards,
    Bob
    Last edited by RGV250; 27th December 2015 at 08:46.

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    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Quote Originally Posted by RGV250 View Post
    Hi,
    I have 2 of the Leadshine units in a mill I am attempting to convert for the X,Y axis, when I get back from Xmas in the sun I will take a couple of piccies of the internals if you wish. I think it might be overkill for a little 6040 (or 3020) as they drive NEMA23 (or small 34's).
    Regards,
    Bob
    Welcome to the party ,They may not have the same internals has the ones on E-bay has they may be clones of it. I plan to do some more playing at making PCB'S this afternoon all been well,
    Steve
    Steve

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    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Had another quick play today, Here is my second PCB it will be a current sensor shield for the Arduino/amicus18 just need to build and test it, My next go will be having ago at SMT double sided board, this is where the fun will start. Don't think it looks to bad and quite good results I think, Still yet to make holding down jig which I will get done off my to do list. I really like this method and should have done it a long time ago has my idea it's a fast way to get a on off working PCB if I need more then I would get them manufactured in bulk and this way you have proven that your board is 100% good
    Click image for larger version

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    Steve

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    Fanatical Contributor top204's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    A nice board and I totally agree with your statement. It's both easy and fun to do.

    It's much better than chemical etching, which I stopped doing 15 years ago. When I joined Crownhill, Lester had an LPKF machine, which I used for PCBs. We still have an LPKF machine at work, but it is one of the latest ones and is absolutely magnificent, but way out of my budget for the workshop at home!

    Steve... Doing double sided boards and SMT milling will take a little practice, but once you have your method perfected, it's simplicity itself. Any questions on it and I will try to help.
    Last edited by top204; 28th December 2015 at 09:27.

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    Senior Member chuckieboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    Les
    If at all possible, Could you explain how you carry out your probing method and what software you use, I've been looking and watching videos but they don't really show anything useful plus the fact that you see so many different methods it's become confusing.
    I know that you have got to add the wires and set it up on the controller(this should not be a problem), I've seen that pcb-gcode has auto leveller and seen one called autoleveller but how does this interface with Mach3 ?.
    The autoleveller from my understanding generates the extra code into your G-code and seen a video with it probing in mach3 but I though mach3 just filled it's buffers with the code and then sends the data ad does not alter the G-code ??
    From my understanding I need to get 3 stepper driver boards (has my are in built into the controller board), Been looking at the planet CNC board but can't justify 200 I know they do a DIY version would this be good enough to do the job as the software is not badly priced to obtain a licence. I've also seen something called TinyG (chillipepper) controlling a machine. I've seen the Chinese clones of the planet CNC diy but it's not supported by them which is understandable but like you mentioned before cheaper than building one if it's good enough and just obtain the licence for the software to get support for it.
    Just need a bit of guidance how you carry the process out.
    Any happy new year to you

    Regards,
    Steve
    Steve

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    Fanatical Contributor top204's Avatar
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    Default Re: PCB making CNC machine designs

    The probe is a wire that connects to one of the input lines of the parallel port, but remember a pullup resistor otherwise it will float. And another wire that connects to ground.

    When milling, one of the wires connects to the PCB, while the other connects to the spindle. When they touch, the circuit is made and the Z required can be measured and stored in a Gcode variable.

    The software that I use is one that I created myself because I do not use Eagle. However, the probing method is the same for most of them.

    The software creates a grid at the top of the Gcode and saves the values in the variables that are allowed in it. The same happens for the Eagle plugin.

    The software was a little daunting to create as there were no guidleines to follow, but it works really well. However, it is written for the particular PCB software that I use (EdWinXP) and would definately require adjusting for other PCB software, as not all gerber and excellon files follow the same rules.

    The grid Gcode is shown below. Once you have a basic understanding of Gcode, you'll see that the mechanism is very straightforward. As with all of my code, there are comments added in plentiful supply to the code. A comment in Gcode is surrounded by ():

    Code:
    (Probing Grid = X5 * Y5)
    G21 (mm)
    G90 (Absolute coords)
    
    
    M05 (Stop the Spindle)
    G00 Z1.0 (Move to a Safe height)
    (Probe[0,0] at X10.345 Y6.5343 into variable 100)
    G00 X10.345 Y6.5343 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #100 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[0,1] at X10.345 Y19.14198 into variable 105)
    G00 X10.345 Y19.14198 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #105 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[0,2] at X10.345 Y31.74965 into variable 110)
    G00 X10.345 Y31.74965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #110 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[0,3] at X10.345 Y44.35733 into variable 115)
    G00 X10.345 Y44.35733 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #115 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[0,4] at X10.345 Y56.965 into variable 120)
    G00 X10.345 Y56.965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #120 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[1,0] at X34.065 Y6.5343 into variable 101)
    G00 X34.065 Y6.5343 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #101 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[1,1] at X34.065 Y19.14198 into variable 106)
    G00 X34.065 Y19.14198 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #106 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[1,2] at X34.065 Y31.74965 into variable 111)
    G00 X34.065 Y31.74965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #111 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[1,3] at X34.065 Y44.35733 into variable 116)
    G00 X34.065 Y44.35733 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #116 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[1,4] at X34.065 Y56.965 into variable 121)
    G00 X34.065 Y56.965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #121 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[2,0] at X57.785 Y6.5343 into variable 102)
    G00 X57.785 Y6.5343 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #102 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[2,1] at X57.785 Y19.14198 into variable 107)
    G00 X57.785 Y19.14198 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #107 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[2,2] at X57.785 Y31.74965 into variable 112)
    G00 X57.785 Y31.74965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #112 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[2,3] at X57.785 Y44.35733 into variable 117)
    G00 X57.785 Y44.35733 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #117 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[2,4] at X57.785 Y56.965 into variable 122)
    G00 X57.785 Y56.965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #122 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[3,0] at X81.505 Y6.5343 into variable 103)
    G00 X81.505 Y6.5343 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #103 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[3,1] at X81.505 Y19.14198 into variable 108)
    G00 X81.505 Y19.14198 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #108 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[3,2] at X81.505 Y31.74965 into variable 113)
    G00 X81.505 Y31.74965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #113 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[3,3] at X81.505 Y44.35733 into variable 118)
    G00 X81.505 Y44.35733 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #118 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[3,4] at X81.505 Y56.965 into variable 123)
    G00 X81.505 Y56.965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #123 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[4,0] at X105.225 Y6.5343 into variable 104)
    G00 X105.225 Y6.5343 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #104 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[4,1] at X105.225 Y19.14198 into variable 109)
    G00 X105.225 Y19.14198 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #109 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[4,2] at X105.225 Y31.74965 into variable 114)
    G00 X105.225 Y31.74965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #114 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[4,3] at X105.225 Y44.35733 into variable 119)
    G00 X105.225 Y44.35733 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #119 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    (Probe[4,4] at X105.225 Y56.965 into variable 124)
    G00 X105.225 Y56.965 Z1.0 (Travelling)
    G31 Z-4.0 F25 (Probing)
    #124 = #2002 (Storing)
    G00 Z1.0 (Raising Z)
    
    The actual Milling Gcode is placed here in the same file...................
    Then each move has a Z axis value that uses a particular variable with interpolation calculations:

    G01 F130 X14.4600 Y23.4300 Z[-0.075 + 0.11448 * #106 + 0.54541 * #105 + 0.059 * #111 + 0.28111 * #110] (Milling)

    etc....

    I'd create a video of it happening, but my camera is very poor quality at video. Hopefully, I'm going to get a new camera tomorrow, so videos should be plentiful then.

    I'm not up to date with USB controllers yet, so it's not possible to give a definate answer, but on the various forums, people have bought the Chinese controllers and still been able to use the CNC Planet software, after purchasing a licence key. Why not ask this on their forum, as I'm sure some users on here would be very interested in a definate answer. I know I would be.
    Last edited by top204; 1st January 2016 at 17:41.

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