Instructables

Make a PC board with a Dremel

This is not an Instructable for a particular device or circuit. I'm using the circuit I made for an Artbot project as an example. If you need a quick and dirty way to fashion a pc board, you can cut out the copper clad with a Dremel tool. Just plan you circuit and cut away copper to form your paths. No etchent, photo plotting or even drilling needed in some cases. Of course, you can't do any real fancy and do complex circuits, but for something simple, this does the trick.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Layout your circuit

Use a sharpie to draw where you want to cut the copper clad.

Step 2: Cut out copper

My favorite tool bit to use with the Dremel is a "mini saw" bit. Use it to cut away slots to isolate paths. It's like the reverse of laying out a trace.

Step 3: Check slots and clean

Be sure the cuts are clean. If you need to drill holes do it now before cleaning. Rub surface with a steel wool pad or scratcher pad to remove burrs.

Step 4: Add your parts

You can now add your parts and finish your circuit.

Step 5: Done

Your circuit board can now be used in your project. I'm building an Artbot to show at the Maker Faire and up coming Robogames and needed a simple board to hold a few parts.
botronics (author) 2 years ago
I don't know the part number. I call it a "mini saw". Just see what available at your local Home Depot or Lowes. The saw makes nice straight cuts. A ball cutter type of tip would work if the cut need not be straight.. Its best to secure the board with a vise and not run it on your pants leg like I did. I now have holy pants.
Can someone tell me the name of the bit being used in the rotary tool?
Jodex4 years ago
Nice idea. May even be worth of trying =D
appsman7 years ago
This is not bad, but it's actually easier and cleaner to use a hobby knife. just slice through the copper in strips and peal them off with a good needle nose pliers. Take an Xacto knife and snap about 1/8" off the tip of the blade with the pliers. That makes it easier to apply some pressure on the knife. I found it much easier to control the knife compared to a Dremel and have made PCBs for surface mount ICs this way. I will take some pics and show what I mean in a week or so.
(removed by author or community request)
botronics (author)  seandogue4 years ago
When playing around with blades, you can get cut up pretty bad. You have to apply a lot of force to cut the copper. Thats when you can slip easily.
(removed by author or community request)
(removed by author or community request)
botronics (author)  seandogue4 years ago
Those are not bad at all. Looks like they would work out fine. if you got the equipment, by all means do it. Better than using pref board and spaghetti tubing. No mess with the etching and disposal too.
MoeK7 years ago
This is old hat. Google "paddyboard", for the Australian version. Also, "ugly construction" and "dead bug construction". You can do quite complex stuff. Amateur radio types have been doing this for years to make receivers and transmitters. You use PCB material as a ground plane and suspend circuitry above it using smaller pads of circit board material as islands or even very high value reiistors as standoffs. If you can develop a pattern with straight lines, a hacksaw will do the cutting just fine.
pfred2 MoeK5 years ago
You forgot my favorite, "hanging garden"!
botronics (author)  MoeK7 years ago
I read an article by Bob Pease from National Semi. "What's all this stuff.. " were he shown a circuit made up by cutting up pieces of circuit board and super glued them to a larger board for a ground plan. These islands can be soldered to for developing circuits. This does work very well.
agis685 years ago
Good idea for short circuit but when u have a lot of PCB parts? Has to be more detailed. But for jobs like that its ok...
DYLEGO5 years ago
how does this work? if the entire board is copper, doesnt the electricity go all over instead of just on the paths?
botronics (author)  DYLEGO5 years ago
Its a thin foil of copper on non-conducting fiberglass board. Cutting the foil, cuts the paths.
Punkguyta7 years ago
I thought that you were using a cutout wheel on your dremel to do this and then I saw the bit, what kind is that? I've never actually seen one of those.
Tek465m7 years ago
Have you ever played with BEAM bots?
Your circuit layout looks similar to the Magbot or sun swinger circuit. You could do away with the hall effect and PIC, and make it solar powered. Pick up a copy of "Junkbots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels" or if you just want the circuit and description, download the manual at Solarbotics.com

I've build a couple of them free-form BEAM style as gifts and they have never failed to impress.
rockyt7 years ago
The circuit that is shown, what does it do and what's it for? Nice idea!!
botronics (author)  rockyt7 years ago
It will be for a Magnetic Pendulum Artbot. I will have three pendulums with magnets suspended over three coils each for a total of nine. The pendulums get a kick as they cross over a hall senser monitored by a pic microcontroller. All three pendulums also interact with each other. I will name it "Three's a Crowd" and hopefully get it done to show at Robogames 2007 and the Make Faire. I have a youtube video showing preliminary experiments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hwHTeuX6Qk
Nice idea, but I would suggest not cutting it on your leg :)
botronics (author)  FrenchCrawler7 years ago
It was a nice day outside and I didn't have a table, so I did the work on my porch steps. It's a good idea not to do it indoors or you will have copper and fiberglass chips in the house. Ya, I did nick my pants, so don't have your good slacks on.
mrmath7 years ago
How hard is it to keep from cutting through? What speed to you set on the dremel?
botronics (author)  mrmath7 years ago
I thought at first the saw would cut through easily, but it didn't. In fact, I had to go over a few spots to remove more copper. One trick is to move in the direction opposite to the rotation for better control. It probably depends on how sharp the bit is and how heavy the copper clad is. I was using board with 2 ounce copper. Regarding speed, just use a medium speed.

Check this site for more info about PC milling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCB_Milling
stone34087 years ago
Great idea. I have a dremel drill press that would make this a snap. I think the bit that you are using is the best for cutting long straight lines. I have a simple voltage regulator project that this would be perfect for! Any suggestions on the best place to buy the copper clad? Thanks for the idea.
AllanButton7 years ago
Don't know why I never thought of this. I will prolly be using the engraving bit, just so I can do the small traces.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!