PCB Engraving

This has come up a few times, but I’m wondering if there’s any new advances.

Who uses the MPCNC to make PCBs? What method are you using?

I tried to use Eagle with the PCB-Gcode plugin to engrave a board last night. I think it might work after some more tweaking. The output Gcode looked good, but it looks like the cut depth was way off somewhere as the 20* engraving bit I used plunged all the way to the bottom of the board.

I used this guy’s write up, but I need to take another look



This might end up being my final excuse to order one of the lasers for the machine.

You can use lasers for PCB? I’ve seen people etching a mask with a laser, and then use chemical etching. I wouldn’t think the copper would absorb the light enough to work, but if it does, cool!

Not directly. The etching a mask and then chemicals is what I was referring to. I’m not afraid of playing with acid. I find it goes well on fish.

Can you just export a dxf or svg and use estlcam to set the paths?
I have not tried it. I couldn’t figure out how to make a decent PCB design a few years back so I never tried again. But it might be cool to do some more learning.

You might even want to…uhhhhmmmm… use autoleveling…shhhh don’t tell anybody I said that. Just turn it on in the firmware and use the vbit as the probe. Pete the guy that made the Root CNC told me he uses http://reprap.org/wiki/CNCGcodeController specifically for how well it handles PCB leveling. I haven’t tested them head to head but it sounds like 2 valid options.

I used an end mill to level the table right where the PCB board goes. It also gives me a nice little square to make sure the PCB is square to the gantry.

I think I found the problem in the software I’m using. It looks like I didn’t measure the thickness of the PCB and copper layers correctly. Actually, the numbers were so far off, I’m wondering if I forgot to change the default values at all.

I did a test run on some foam board last night and the engraver made a nice little patter in the foam. I’ll try to recut the copper tonight and record some video of it.

I can’t wait to see it. I really need to try it again, last time my cute depths seemed good but the bit I used didn’t work well with the copper and seemed to move it out of the way more than cut it.

Are you pretty good with eagle?

I can get around it, but I usually try to stick to simple 1 or 2 layer boards. Nothing really high frequency. Most of what I did in college were PIC type devices.

A lot of what I do now are carriers for arduinos. The latest board I’m working on is a simple carrier board to connect a logic-level converter with a PI zero for controlling 5050 LED’s. Hardest part will be soldering the 40 pin header onto it.

I just ordered an ESP8266 and some stepper motors. My wife wants me to make something like the below project

It was the initial project that allowed for the building of the MPCNC. I’m just now getting around to it.

With the esp, one of the dev boards, like the nodemcu is really useful. Especially because they come with plenty of flash. I love that chip. Works great.

like this? :slight_smile:


Yep. It just fits in a breadboard, but it’s nice to not have to do the reset/GPIO0 stuff on your own.

You can use arduino with it, or you can load micropython on it. micropython isn’t very fast on it, but it’s super fun to run python through webrepl on a $8 board.