author
2Instructables70,903Views63CommentsOregon, USAJoined December 13th, 2017
I've been blessed lately to be able to share some of what I've learned and made. I make custom software for a living. I make custom things for myself and others. I make custom gadgets for fun. In my professional life, my team’s code is used to run a couple of the world’s largest corporations, and the web and mobile apps for which I have been responsible are used by millions of people every month.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller2 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Hello,I used the MOSFETs linked in the writing. They're RFP30N06LE. I've had no problems With them, and I've used dozens. Maybe someone who knows a little more about electronics can help answer what could cause those symptoms. I've seen similar behavior when I had accidentally short circuited two MOSFETS. I would also be suspicious of the common ground.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller7 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Hello, It doesn't make a huge difference. You can simply skip one of the MOSFETs (the one that connects to the white LED). The app would still have a slider for the white LED. It just wouldn't do anything for you. Otherwise, everything will work as you'd hope.

    If you follow this instructable, you can build four of these controllers for eight strips of lights. If you have less than 10 meters of LEDs and they are all in the same proximity, you can use the same power supply.You could reduce it to two NodeMCU boards by incorporating a PCA9685, but that's beyond the scope of this Instructable. I may write one later.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller18 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    comm and memory errors mean that the Arduino IDE couldn't upload the sketch to the board - for any number of reasons. Does the sketch compile using the "Compile" button that's right next to the "Upload" button? Double and triple check that you have the correct Board and Port selected. Does the port disappear and reappear from the Ports list when you unplug the USB cable and plug it back in? On a few occasions, I've had to install special serial drivers for particular versions of this board to work. Specifically, look into which serial chip your NodeMCU board uses. When I've had boards with CH340 serial chips, I had to install special drivers on my computer. I've never had problems with boards that have CP2102 serial chips. Do a Google search for "ch340 serial dr...

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    comm and memory errors mean that the Arduino IDE couldn't upload the sketch to the board - for any number of reasons. Does the sketch compile using the "Compile" button that's right next to the "Upload" button? Double and triple check that you have the correct Board and Port selected. Does the port disappear and reappear from the Ports list when you unplug the USB cable and plug it back in? On a few occasions, I've had to install special serial drivers for particular versions of this board to work. Specifically, look into which serial chip your NodeMCU board uses. When I've had boards with CH340 serial chips, I had to install special drivers on my computer. I've never had problems with boards that have CP2102 serial chips. Do a Google search for "ch340 serial driver" and you'll find a solution to that particular problem.I had to do quite a bit of research to narrow down the problem when I ran into the issue that ultimately turned out to be that I needed to load CH340 drivers. The fix is pretty well documented, if that's the issue you're having.

    It's also possible that it's the USB cable itself. Be sure that you have a cable that is capable of transmitting data. One that works for syncing Android phones will work.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller20 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing!

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller26 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Thanks for the feedback. I'm a hobbyist when it comes to electronics, and that isn't something I would have known. There are A LOT of wiring diagrams out there for "Arduino to light strips," and it seems that most of them do not include resistors. Even Adafruit's wiring diagram does not (https://learn.adafruit.com/rgb-led-strips/usage). Is that a matter of ignorance, and I'm propagating it?I haven't ever seen a wiring diagram for these lights that includes a pull-up or down resistor.Are the resistors strictly to protect the device on power-on? Have you seen actual problems as a result of not having them? I haven't ever seen anyone mention having problems for the lack of resistors, and I haven't personally experienced any (I have an unstable power supply in my shop, and I've lo...

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm a hobbyist when it comes to electronics, and that isn't something I would have known. There are A LOT of wiring diagrams out there for "Arduino to light strips," and it seems that most of them do not include resistors. Even Adafruit's wiring diagram does not (https://learn.adafruit.com/rgb-led-strips/usage). Is that a matter of ignorance, and I'm propagating it?I haven't ever seen a wiring diagram for these lights that includes a pull-up or down resistor.Are the resistors strictly to protect the device on power-on? Have you seen actual problems as a result of not having them? I haven't ever seen anyone mention having problems for the lack of resistors, and I haven't personally experienced any (I have an unstable power supply in my shop, and I've lost a fair number of electronics components as a result, but never a NodeMCU board that was connected to a light strip).The fact that so many wiring diagrams show the circuit without resistors, coupled with the lack of information posted about failures for not including them, makes me wonder if this problem is one that people may experience in theory, but aren't likely to encounter in reality. Again, I'm an electronics hobbyist, so my questions come from a lack of experience or specific knowledge.Thanks again. I appreciate it, and plan to do some more research on the topic.

    This may be the exact thing I was looking for when I was thinking "shift register."Jeez those things are cheap on AliExpress. I guess you have to pay A LOT extra to see your items within a month.I'll check this out when I get a chance. This could be the version 10 hardware I've been waiting for. :-)Thanks!

    Yes, I have. It's mentioned at the very end of the writing (second full paragraph of the wrap-up), and I talk about it a little more in the Instructable that I am still writing, which is about making backlit signs.Getting a physical product into the market is a little out of my reach right now, but maybe someday...Thanks!

    Yes, you may be so bold.It's a good idea, and one I've put a little thought into - but only a little bit. Network latency is likely to be an issue with the current version of the code, but some changes I recently committed to the features/patternLoops branch on github ought to help alleviate that particular concern. I already had this particular feature listed as a future enhancement. It's issue #17 on github.Thanks for the suggestion! I was wondering if that is a feature people actually use.

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  • appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller's weekly stats: 27 days ago
    • WiFi LED Light Strip Controller
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      46 comments
  • appideas commented on How-ToDo's instructable DIY Decorative Acrylic RGB LED Lamp27 days ago
    DIY Decorative Acrylic RGB LED Lamp

    Awesome. Thank you!I've been looking for an excuse to cut a huge sheet of acrylic into smaller pieces for milling. I'm getting closer.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller27 days ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Hello, and thanks for the feedback!The application of NeoPixels (the Adafruit marketing term for WS2812B light strips) tends to be very different than that of 5050SMD lights.I definitely have plans to do some projects with NeoPixels. I even considered using them for this project, but decided to use 5050SMDs instead for two primary reasons. 1. My end-goal is a set of signs (Instructable almost ready!), and for that application, it made more sense for each character in the sign to only be a single color, and 2. The programming would have been significantly more complex, particularly for the app, which would require a very different interface.They are also slightly more expensive (significantly more expensive if you don’t comparison shop), but I threw away the budget on this project months...

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    Hello, and thanks for the feedback!The application of NeoPixels (the Adafruit marketing term for WS2812B light strips) tends to be very different than that of 5050SMD lights.I definitely have plans to do some projects with NeoPixels. I even considered using them for this project, but decided to use 5050SMDs instead for two primary reasons. 1. My end-goal is a set of signs (Instructable almost ready!), and for that application, it made more sense for each character in the sign to only be a single color, and 2. The programming would have been significantly more complex, particularly for the app, which would require a very different interface.They are also slightly more expensive (significantly more expensive if you don’t comparison shop), but I threw away the budget on this project months ago, so cost was not a reason I didn’t use them for this project.I will be making a variation of this hardware and software for NeoPixels, but I have to find the application to my life and the time to do the project. I am currently drawing up plans to make a sign with acrylic as the light distribution medium, and I have been thinking that NeoPixels would be great for that. If that turns out to be anywhere near as cool as I am imagining it in my head, I’ll certainly be writing about it. The hardware is going to be a simple variation of what I already made. The Arduino code will need to be more complicated, but reasonable. The user interface of the mobile app is what my brain struggles with. Have you seen a good mobile app for controlling this type of light strip? I have seen a couple of apps, but I wouldn’t consider them to be usable by anyone who isn’t a software developer. I’m trying to wrap my head around what a user interface would look like for individually addressable lights, particularly when the number of lights will vary. I’ve seen a lot of Arduino code for these lights, and there are a lot of things that the devopers hard-code (number of lights, one specific effect, network connection parameters, etc.) that wouldn’t be appropriate as publicly distributed code. I haven’t yet seen a good mobile app for NeoPixel control. The usefulness of the project is limited to software and hardware developers without a good controlling mechanism (the mobile app, in this case), and I am reluctant to begin the project until I have a good idea of how that will be worked out.That turned out to be much longer than I anticipated. :-)Thanks again.

    Maybe I'm confused about their pricing, but according to https://www.blynk.io/plans/ I can only have the app installed on 20 devices with a free account. That will work if this were only available for my family, but not for something that's open to the public.I plan to use Blynk in the future, but I don't believe that it will work for the goals I have for this project or for my budget.Thanks again for your feedback. I really appreciate it. It's given me some ideas to try.

    1. I needed 14 controllers for a single strip of lights that was cut into pieces. I couldn’t get that for $20. ONE strip with a power supply and remote control is $23.2. Being a “DIY” enthusiast, I prefer to know and own as much of my projects as I can3. I wanted software for using and controlling these lights accessible to people who are not software developers4. I wanted the software to be available to everyone through a GPL (or similar) license so that it can have a future that is beyond my personal capabilities and/or timeIf your $20 solution can cover those 4 points, great. It sounds like you need to spend some time away from Instructables. The vast majority of the site is devoted to DIY versions of commercially available things. If that irritates you, your time would be better spe...

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    1. I needed 14 controllers for a single strip of lights that was cut into pieces. I couldn’t get that for $20. ONE strip with a power supply and remote control is $23.2. Being a “DIY” enthusiast, I prefer to know and own as much of my projects as I can3. I wanted software for using and controlling these lights accessible to people who are not software developers4. I wanted the software to be available to everyone through a GPL (or similar) license so that it can have a future that is beyond my personal capabilities and/or timeIf your $20 solution can cover those 4 points, great. It sounds like you need to spend some time away from Instructables. The vast majority of the site is devoted to DIY versions of commercially available things. If that irritates you, your time would be better spent elsewhere.

    If I wanted to make a Blynk app that I can distribute, I have to pay Blynk $199 per month (minimum). I won’t be using Blynk.

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  • appideas commented on How-ToDo's instructable DIY Decorative Acrylic RGB LED Lamp4 weeks ago
    DIY Decorative Acrylic RGB LED Lamp

    Very cool! Would you mind sharing your speeds (spindle RPMs and feed rate) and the properties of your bit for etching acrylic on your CNC router? You mentioned that you went through several attempts and finally achieved nice results, but didn’t provide any details about your conclusion. Thanks!

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller4 weeks ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    Sweet! The connectToWifi function is where it connects to your network (although the one in my sketch is a little more complicated than you'll probably need), and startWebServer is where the API endpoints and handlers are defined.I was considering adding IR remote control, but I didn't want to make the build more complicated than it already is.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable WiFi LED Light Strip Controller4 weeks ago
    WiFi LED Light Strip Controller

    I'm working on the Arduino part of that right now. I'm not sure how it'll get worked into the app, but something will come to mind (I hope).

    As fungus amungus pointed out, you'll need a little more than what is provided in the package. That's a product of the power supply and the pull caused by the lights, not anything having to do with this project.What you need for extra distance is an RGBW amplifier. One example that would work: https://amzn.appideas.com/2DBKmXWThis one may be more difficult to wire, but a 6 pack is $12: https://amzn.appideas/2OInlUnSearch for "RGBW amplifier" on Amazon, and you'll get a lot of results. Keep in mind that you will need a power supply for each amplifier. I don't think that most come with one.

    As Rob Schneider would say, "You can do it!" Making projects like this from other people's instructions is exactly how I learned.My seven year old nephew has a lot of fun with our lights. You're daughter is sure to love them too. I say dig in and follow the steps. Just go for it. :-) The difficult part of this project is the software, and that's done for you. The rest of it is connecting the dots (wires).

    Thanks for the feedback. I hear that often, although I'm surprised because it's something you can pick up at nearly any hardware store (where I live, anyway).It's perfect for A LOT of applications.We always had it around the house when I was a kid, so I assumed everyone knew about it. I suppose I have my dad to thank for my introduction to it. :-)

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  • appideas's entry Custom PCBs on a CNC Router is a winner in the Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge contest 5 weeks ago
  • appideas's entry Custom PCBs on a CNC Router is a finalist in the Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge contest 6 weeks ago
  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router6 weeks ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    It looks like there's been a pull request pending for FlatCAM since July 1st that would fix the issue by changing the setup_ubuntu.sh script. The one that's there now is for python2. I already had a few of the dependencies resolved on my system, so they weren't in the list of commands I needed to add. If anyone else has a problem running this on Ubuntu 18 and the above commands don't fix it for you, adding this one should give you the same behavior as the fixed dependency check:sudo apt-get install python3-dev python3-simplejson python3-scipy python3-pipYou may also need to run these (I did not):easy_install3 -U distributepip3 install --upgrade matplotlib Shapelyhttps://bitbucket.org/jpcgt/flatcam/pull-requests/...One way to fix it would be to replace the setup_ubuntu.sh script with the...

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    It looks like there's been a pull request pending for FlatCAM since July 1st that would fix the issue by changing the setup_ubuntu.sh script. The one that's there now is for python2. I already had a few of the dependencies resolved on my system, so they weren't in the list of commands I needed to add. If anyone else has a problem running this on Ubuntu 18 and the above commands don't fix it for you, adding this one should give you the same behavior as the fixed dependency check:sudo apt-get install python3-dev python3-simplejson python3-scipy python3-pipYou may also need to run these (I did not):easy_install3 -U distributepip3 install --upgrade matplotlib Shapelyhttps://bitbucket.org/jpcgt/flatcam/pull-requests/...One way to fix it would be to replace the setup_ubuntu.sh script with the one that is pending before running it. You can get it here:https://bitbucket.org/juewei/flatcam/src/7eb6fbd94...I would expect for the pull request to be accepted some time soon and for this problem to go away, but it has been pending for quite a while already.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router6 weeks ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    I was able to get FlatCAM running in Ubuntu 18 with these commands:mkdir flatcamcd flatcamgit clone bitbucket.org/jpcgt/flatcam.git ././setup_ubuntu.shI then had issues getting python3, PyQT and all the dependencies to match up. I basically ran ./flatcam repeatedly, noting the error, then figured out how to manually resolve each dependency. In the end, I had to stray from the installation instructions and run these commands:sudo apt-get install python3-pyqt4sudo apt-get install python3-tksudo apt-get install python3-numpysudo apt-get install python3-matplotlibsudo apt-get install python3-rtreesudo apt-get install python3-shapelysudo apt-get install python3-svg.pathAfter all of that, I run ./flatcam from the command line, and it works.I'm not sure why the setup shell script now claims su...

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    I was able to get FlatCAM running in Ubuntu 18 with these commands:mkdir flatcamcd flatcamgit clone bitbucket.org/jpcgt/flatcam.git ././setup_ubuntu.shI then had issues getting python3, PyQT and all the dependencies to match up. I basically ran ./flatcam repeatedly, noting the error, then figured out how to manually resolve each dependency. In the end, I had to stray from the installation instructions and run these commands:sudo apt-get install python3-pyqt4sudo apt-get install python3-tksudo apt-get install python3-numpysudo apt-get install python3-matplotlibsudo apt-get install python3-rtreesudo apt-get install python3-shapelysudo apt-get install python3-svg.pathAfter all of that, I run ./flatcam from the command line, and it works.I'm not sure why the setup shell script now claims success, but obviously leaves you without the right dependencies, but it clearly does. These commands should get it all fixed up.

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  • appideas commented on tdonoclift's instructable Hanging Gear Clock7 weeks ago
    Hanging Gear Clock

    I have been away from my home and shop almost the entire time since I posted this comment, so I haven't had a chance to put it together yet. :-/ However, I saw this other clock pop up on Instructables, and they are using a reed switch to synchronize the time hourly. It's pretty much identical to how I pictured it working.https://www.instructables.com/id/Antique-Auto-Correcting-Analog-Clock/

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router7 weeks ago
  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router2 months ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    4’x8’?! I’m a little jealous - except for the amount of space it must consume in your shop. :-)

    Maybe it behaves differently on a phone than in a desktop web browser?I’m in Mexico getting geared up for my daughter’s wedding, so my phone is the main way I currently have to respond. Two line breaks appears to create the desired spacing when I create responses on my phone.

    Thanks for the feedback, and I apologize if I caused offense. I’m not a particularly sensitive person, and my wife informs me that I can offend people when I mean nothing personal by it. I’m sorry if that happened here. I’ve had commercially produced boards short circuit in a typical working environment for me for things as dumb as semi-normal condensation (60-75% relative humidity in a greenhouse). I will admit that I am paranoid about such things, but my paranoia is founded on actual experience. As a result I wouldn’t advise anyone who’s doing this to do it otherwise unless he or she has experience (or a teacher) and knows why he or she is making that specific decision. Until a person knows how to assess the details and make an educated decision on that issue, I firmly believe that th...

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    Thanks for the feedback, and I apologize if I caused offense. I’m not a particularly sensitive person, and my wife informs me that I can offend people when I mean nothing personal by it. I’m sorry if that happened here. I’ve had commercially produced boards short circuit in a typical working environment for me for things as dumb as semi-normal condensation (60-75% relative humidity in a greenhouse). I will admit that I am paranoid about such things, but my paranoia is founded on actual experience. As a result I wouldn’t advise anyone who’s doing this to do it otherwise unless he or she has experience (or a teacher) and knows why he or she is making that specific decision. Until a person knows how to assess the details and make an educated decision on that issue, I firmly believe that the correct thing to do is to clear the non-copper region. Teaching people what they need to know to make that decision really requires another Instructable. I don’t foresee getting to write on such a topic for (at least) several months, but if someone else wants to do so, I would be happy to link to it. Thank you again. I appreciate you sharing your experience!

    Me too. Very cool. Do you have an SMD pad on there? What are you soldering to it?

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router2 months ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    I think that leaving the non-copper region is really horrible advice for beginners. Those of you who have experience with this topic... Please remember that the purpose of this Instructable is to teach people to do something they don’t know how to do already. Those of you who suggest leaving the non-copper region have experience in making custom PCBs and you know why the decision was made to leave the non-copper region in place. Right? For BEGINNERS of the topic, we should be reducing the number of decisions that lead to the best results. I hope to be able to publish more advanced info for people who are looking to take it to the next level, however the audience for THIS Instructable is the beginner, and clearing the non-copper region is absolutely and without question the correct advic...

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    I think that leaving the non-copper region is really horrible advice for beginners. Those of you who have experience with this topic... Please remember that the purpose of this Instructable is to teach people to do something they don’t know how to do already. Those of you who suggest leaving the non-copper region have experience in making custom PCBs and you know why the decision was made to leave the non-copper region in place. Right? For BEGINNERS of the topic, we should be reducing the number of decisions that lead to the best results. I hope to be able to publish more advanced info for people who are looking to take it to the next level, however the audience for THIS Instructable is the beginner, and clearing the non-copper region is absolutely and without question the correct advice to give.

    You have to put two line breaks to get paragraphs to separate on Instructables comments. :-)

    bCNC failed miserably and repeatedly when I tested it. A Raspberry Pi running Linux is absolutely the only choice for gcode sender for me (no exceptions would be tolerated on that issue now or in the foreseeable future), and bCNC didn’t perform reliably enough in that environment that I could trust it. The application simply crashed several minutes into using it every time I tried. I’m not likely to give it another chance. I don’t know how I could have possibly made this shorter and still be useful to people who don’t know how to do this and actually need the information. I know how I could have made it shorter for people like you, who obviously already have a fair amount of experience. Suggestions?Also, the issue of whether or not the excess copper should be cleared has been discussed ...

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    bCNC failed miserably and repeatedly when I tested it. A Raspberry Pi running Linux is absolutely the only choice for gcode sender for me (no exceptions would be tolerated on that issue now or in the foreseeable future), and bCNC didn’t perform reliably enough in that environment that I could trust it. The application simply crashed several minutes into using it every time I tried. I’m not likely to give it another chance. I don’t know how I could have possibly made this shorter and still be useful to people who don’t know how to do this and actually need the information. I know how I could have made it shorter for people like you, who obviously already have a fair amount of experience. Suggestions?Also, the issue of whether or not the excess copper should be cleared has been discussed several times already. I disagree with those who say that it should not be cleared. That’s your decision to make. I present my argument. If you disagree, another Instructable may be written with those instructions. :-) I disagree with your decision, so I’m not going to write that Imstructable myself. But I did mention that there are reasons why people may want to do that. However, you need to keep in mind that “Instructables” are to teach people how to do something they don’t already know how to do. In other words, this is for beginners of this topic. Beginners should be clearing the non-copper region. Period. If you’re not clearing the non-copper region, you should be making that decision based on a reason that you know, and you are therefore not a beginner. Until you know what that reason is, the idea of trading a few minutes of router time for dramatically increased short circuit possibilities is absolutely silly.

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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router2 months ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    I avoid going deeper than is necessary for two reasons. 1. The quality of the output is negatively affected when it digs too deep, and 2. With a V-shaped bit, going deeper makes wider cuts, which will causes it to cut into the traces.The first issue is quite possibly the fault of the inexpensive boards I have been purchasing. I don't have a lot of comparison to know if the decrease in quality is due to the deeper cut alone or a combination of the deeper cut and cheap laminate material - I just know that, the deeper I cut past the copper, the thinner my traces turn out, and I have to do a lot more manual clean-up. The second issue may not technically cause a problem, but is not intended.I don't use 0.1mm bits because the tips wear down very easily, and I was not happy having to stop jobs...

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    I avoid going deeper than is necessary for two reasons. 1. The quality of the output is negatively affected when it digs too deep, and 2. With a V-shaped bit, going deeper makes wider cuts, which will causes it to cut into the traces.The first issue is quite possibly the fault of the inexpensive boards I have been purchasing. I don't have a lot of comparison to know if the decrease in quality is due to the deeper cut alone or a combination of the deeper cut and cheap laminate material - I just know that, the deeper I cut past the copper, the thinner my traces turn out, and I have to do a lot more manual clean-up. The second issue may not technically cause a problem, but is not intended.I don't use 0.1mm bits because the tips wear down very easily, and I was not happy having to stop jobs in the middle to re-zero the Z axis and then start over each time I used a new bit that din't have a worn tip yet. I've had far fewer problems with 0.2mm bits.In reality (and as-mentioned in the write-up), I do go significantly overkill on the relationship between the number of passes and the clearing margin. In theory, if I use a 0.2mm bit to cut the traces in 1 pass, I should be able to set something like a 0.15mm margin for the clearing operation. The problem with that theory is that there are places on the board where the larger clearing tool can't go because of its diameter and the margin that's set in software. Particularly, nearby parallel traces are left with strips of copper between them when the isolation routing passes are decreased.But... If the increased risk of short circuits doesn't concern you or if you're happy cleaning the excess copper with a rotary tool after the router gets done, you will definitely save time by reducing the isolation routing passes to 1.

    Yes! My research led me to believe that Eagle is a very good application, but I wanted to stick to free and Open Source Software for my initial use. Also, I had already been using Fritzing for documentation of my prototypes, so it was the logical choice for design. Eagle is definitely on my short list of things to evaluate.Thanks!

    Yep. The seventh bullet point in the list of tips says that. :-)

    That's awesome! Thanks for sharing!I'm already a Fusion 360 user, and Eagle is on my to-try list. It looks like it made producing the fixture much simpler for you than how I had to create mine.

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  • appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router's weekly stats: 2 months ago
    • Custom PCBs on a CNC Router
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  • appideas commented on appideas's instructable Custom PCBs on a CNC Router2 months ago
    Custom PCBs on a CNC Router

    I just upgraded one of my systems to Ubuntu 18 and have the same problem. I know that there's a beta of version 9 of FlatCAM, but I haven't tried it yet. I'll report back what I find.

    I didn't cover double-sided PCBs in this Instructable because of that very issue. Getting the alignment right on the second side is a topic that requires its own set of instructions.It sounds like you're doing exactly what I have done - a custom jig. I haven't had problems with the accuracy of my printer, but I also haven't produced double-sided PCBs except as an experiment to-date, so my experience is limited.Getting the alignment correct on "the flip" requires zero skew on the X and Y axes. Making sure that your router is properly aligned is the easy part. Getting the board set properly is not trivial. The only way I have been able to do that is to create a jig specifically for my router that I can fix to the router bed after I've used the toolhead to true-up the jig in rel...

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    I didn't cover double-sided PCBs in this Instructable because of that very issue. Getting the alignment right on the second side is a topic that requires its own set of instructions.It sounds like you're doing exactly what I have done - a custom jig. I haven't had problems with the accuracy of my printer, but I also haven't produced double-sided PCBs except as an experiment to-date, so my experience is limited.Getting the alignment correct on "the flip" requires zero skew on the X and Y axes. Making sure that your router is properly aligned is the easy part. Getting the board set properly is not trivial. The only way I have been able to do that is to create a jig specifically for my router that I can fix to the router bed after I've used the toolhead to true-up the jig in relation to the X and Y axes. That's the important part - you have to use the toolhead to align your jig on the X and Y axes without skew. And when I say that it's the only way I have been able to do it, keep in mind that I don't have enough experience with that to know "best practices." I was experimenting and found something that worked for me. I plan to do a write-up on that after I've had more experience, and assuming that good instructions don't already exist. I couldn't find any in the very short time I looked.

    Thanks for the feedback and the cool pictures! I'll have to check out Copper. I see another comment from a user about it, so it's obviously working for people. I just haven't used it in my experience to-date. Sounds like that should be next. Eagle is the other app that I want to try, but it didn't meet my initial criteria of "free and Open Source."Thanks!

    I do not do multi-depth on the 5 passes for isolation routing. I do 5 passes to guarantee that there is enough clearance between the traces and the clearing operation to remove all of the copper. In theory, you should only need the number of passes that are required to make as much space as your "margin" for the clearing operation, but theory and reality don't always match. The particular problem I have had with fewer than 5 passes is that small strips of copper tend to be left between parallel traces, which causes unnecessary short circuit possibilities.

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