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How to Convert and Mill your PCB Layouts on your CNC

Picture of How to Convert and Mill your PCB Layouts on your CNC
This is a small tutorial showing how to deal with the problems converting your PCB Schematics to G-Code to be able to Mill it.

Used Software.
DipTrace : http://www.diptrace.com/
CopperCAM : http://www.galaad.net/coppercam-eng.html
Mach3 : http://www.machsupport.com/

I used DipTrace form y PCB Layouts but any software cable of saving Gerber files can be used. Its Free if you can be under 300 pins. Witch works fine for most of my projects.

To control my CNC Mill I use Mach 3, but any other software can be used such as LinuxCNC and EMC2.
But for me I think the 175$ for a Mach 3 License is well spend since it’s a great peace of software.

I also got an license for CopperCAM for 80 € which is good given out and don’t have to mangle with a lot of conversation programs and scripts. Her I gave a great GUI and can see what’s happens and change the settings easily.

I will make the Tutorial both as a Video and Images Step by Step Guide

The Video can be seen her, the Image and Text Step by Steps on the next pages.


 
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Step 1: Exporting PCB Design

Picture of Exporting PCB Design
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Have your PCB Design Loaded in DipTrace and go to File /Export / Gerber…

Select the Top Layer and click Export chose Yes to use the automatically apertures and save the File eg. “Top.gbr”
Select Board Outline and click Export chose Yes to use the automatically apertures and save the File eg. “BoardOutline.gbr”

Close the Export Gerber window.
Select File /Export / N/C Drill…

Check the settings and click Export chose Yes to use the automatically tools and save the File eg. “Through.drl”

Then Close DipTrace and start CopperCAM.
RafaelL34 months ago

hi I have a question, how do you control the axis z? my machine starts on and the axis z does not go up and then down instead just keep the same altitude and damage the PCB.

thanks

ashokejia7 months ago

my copper-cam is not generating board outline gcode but the engraving and drilling are generating please what can cause it, i have follow the step by tutorial and video on youtube everything seems to be ok this is the code it generate for the cutting

(( CopperCAM 3 - 17/11/2008 / ISO-Mill Output )

( C:\COPPERCAM\CopperCAM.iso created 29/12/2014 at 07:29 )

( Workpiece dimensions: 46.914 x 67.081 x 2 mm )

G00 G90 G94 G71 G40 G54 G80

T2 M06

M03 S8000

G00 F3000

G00 Z2

M05

M02

%

with this the main gcode is not generate how can i resolve it

thanks

jpcgt9 months ago

Hi everybody, FlatCAM has become the most powerful open-source PCB to G-code out there and has a new website: http://flatcam.org

jpcgt1 year ago

Hi,

I just released a program for preparing PCB for a CNC router/milling machine. It's free, open source, and aiming to be more powerful than what's out there already. Check it out at: http://caram.cl/software/flatcam

Enjoy!

centauri_dk (author) 1 year ago
Hi
I am actually using cheap v-bits from eBay.
I also had problems with the tip breaking off. But looked like it was because when I run through my gcode it got to deep in the PCB because of the start distance of my V-Bit and the PCB Board.
I then began to use the Probing Method as I also have made a tutorial about
http://www.instructables.com/id/Mach3-Zero-Probe-Tool
With this I am 100% sure that the Tip of the V-Bit is just touching the PCB Board.
You can also use a piece of paper and move it around under the V-But and lower the V-Bit until you can’t move the paper anymore then you also know that you are right on the PCB Board.
Hope that helps.
marzouin1 year ago
Hi, Nice video!

I've been trying to mill pcd with the same setup that you are using (mach3/coppercam and a cnc). But I have difficulties to do thin trace. I've tried many ebay's carbide cutter but their tips always break. What are you using ?
araripe2 years ago
Congratulations. Very good instructions. It will be very useful to me. How much lines of gcode was generated to this pcb? Is there an free (or trial) alternatives apps to CooperCam? I just finishing constructing my cnc and I am in test phase. I would like to try milling a pcb but I want to try some apps before choose the one I will pay for licenses. By now, my cnc is working well with mach3 (trial) and gcode files written by myself.
centauri_dk (author)  araripe2 years ago
Hi Araripe
First Yes there are Alternatives to CopperCAM, there is http://pcbgcode.org/
But i personally found CopperCAM the easiest to use. So for me the Money was well spend.
You can also use alternatives to MACH 3 which is Free and run uner Linux as, EMC2 and LinuxCNC.
Because with the Free version of MACH 3 has the limit of 300 lines of G-Code you cant make much.
Just for a simple design an my PCB design her the number of code lines is.
Engraving = 1735
Drill 0,8 mm = 91
Drill 1,2 mm =47
Board Cutout = 25
So as you can see the Engraving part would be a problem with the Free MACH 3 version.
nice instruction s