First Try at Milling PCBs

I realize that my PCB routing techniques are largely undeveloped at this point, but with a small CNC router, it seemed like this was something that I needed to at least try.  My first thought was to just draw some lines and such, but instead I decided to draw the Reddit Alien mascot thing thinking that I could make the eyes light up and maybe the antenna.  This was pretty easy as a .SVG format drawing was available on Wikimedia.  I just exported it to a .dxf file as discussed in this post, and, after some editing in Draftsight, I engraved the drawing.

Reddit Alien PCB with LED eyes and antennaAfter engraving with a “V Shape” carving bit to a depth of .005″, I manually drilled 1/16″ holes in the board where I wanted to poke the LEDs through.  The eyes and center of the antenna would be positive, while the “Face” and outer area would be grounded.  LEDs are really supposed to be inserted from the non-conductive side, but this was more about seeing if I could cut it.  Actually being functional for some purpose was only a bonus.

testing "reddit alien" circuit on breadboardAfter a quick check of, I found that I didn’t have anywhere close to the small 22 Ohm resistor that was needed, so I just left it off.  The LEDs would probably burn out at some point if it was still being used.  I used a foam block from a dollar store to stick the end of the LEDs into on the back side of the PCB while mounting.  If anyone else needs to mount and solder items backwards like this, that might be a good technique!

I’m looking forward to doing some more useful projects with my PCBsInventables was nice enough to provide me with a package of their boards, but priced at $12.60 for a 30 pack as of this writing, the cost of entry into this specialty of CNC routing is quite low!


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