5 Sep 2001 WhoPhlungPoo   » (Journeyer)

Welp, I'm not going to work on any robots for a while. I absolutely must do something about the way I build my prototype boards. I'm tired of taking hours to hand wire my proto boards, in fact its sickening. And I can't justify the cost of sending this stuff out to a PCB house. After all I'm just playing....... I attempted to use a flat bed Roland plotter to do some etching, however the resolution was terrible and I would have to make every thing 10x the size. Also, SMD is out of the question. Not to mention the little accident I had with the enchant solution. I made a few test boards using the plot / acid method, I forgot and left the plastic tub with enchant on my workbench in the garage. Several days later I returned to the garage to find all of the tools hanging on the pegboard near this tub completely RUSTED!

After a little research, I found several companies that make machines that ``Machine'' the copper off the PCB's, these machines are capable of working with SMD foot prints as well as multi layer boards. Unfortunately, they also cost any where from $6,000 to $20,000 US. Once again, since I'm just playing around, I couldn't convince my wife that I ``NEED'' said machinery. With that in mind, my next project is to build one of these PCB prototyping machines.

The concept is relatively simple, to make an X,Y,Z stage with a high speed milling spindle. At this point, the hardest part of this project is the software that reads in the Gerber files then creates the cutting paths around the traces, I'm about 70% complete with the software to perform said function. When I complete the software Ill start with the design of the XYZ stages. When I get further along Ill post the details on my web site for any one that would also like to build one of these machines!

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