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Drilling PCBs

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by GooSE, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    After being an avid user of veroboards/breadboards for a few years, and dismissing DIY PCBs as too much trouble or too hard to do, I'm starting to get to a few designs that just aren't worth the hassle and size increase of using veroboard or breadboard.

    So... I'm looking at making some PCBs, probably using the toner transfer method with ferric chloride. The only question is: I know a drill press would be ideal, but would I go alright with a regular cordless drill for drilling the holes?
     
  2. Goth

    Goth Grumpy Member

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    I think a regular cordless drill might be pretty hard to use well for this task.

    If you have a Dremel or a Dremel-style tool of some sort then you can use this, with quite good results.
     
  3. -KoMoD0-

    -KoMoD0- Member

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    I used a cordless drill with a micro-chuck, wasnt that hard and the holes turned out good. Drill press with a micro chuck works great also
     
  4. nux

    nux Member

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    It's not too hard if the pads have a hole in them, which creates a little dimple that helps keep the drillbit straight.

    Although a cheap drill press makes it much easier.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    Buying a drill press is out of the question due to price.

    For now I think I'll just try having holes on each pad and using a regular drill. Thanks for the suggestions guys.
     
  6. TERRA Operative

    TERRA Operative Member

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    Just be uber careful with lining the holes up for IC's. It's not fun trying to get a 20pin DIP into a row of crooked holes.

    Or you could just go SMD. That way there will be no holes....
     
  7. MrSmith

    MrSmith Member

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    If you've got a steady hand, you can be careful and i'm sure it'll be ok, maybe have a vice setup with the drill in that, and another one with the board, slowly bring the board up with the vice (If you get what i'm saying)
     
  8. OP
    OP
    GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    ICs will be socketed, so it shouldn't be that bad...
     
  9. Goth

    Goth Grumpy Member

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    It becomes exponentially more of a pain in the arse as the pin count increases. DIP40's are the worst.
     
  10. newSpeak

    newSpeak Member

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    I think bunnings sells cheap drill press clamps. As in it's a press and you clamp your drill to it. Would probably work best with a dremel i imagine.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    Great... Guess what size package the largest IC will be? :weirdo:

    Might have to check this out.. Thanks.
     
  12. Goth

    Goth Grumpy Member

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    You just need to take your time, and make sure that all the holes are aligned.

    As was posted earlier, make sure that your PCB layout has a little hole in the copper pad - this makes a surprising difference when it comes to accurate drilling.
     
  13. cvidler

    cvidler Member

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    I've only done small low volume PCBs, and have done drilling by hand. A slow tedious task, but by far the cheapest. I tried with a cordless drill (it's a hulking big 24V hammer drill), but kept breaking the tiny drill bits.
     
  14. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    use as higher speed as you can.

    proper pcb drill presses run at something like 5000rpm+
     
  15. TERRA Operative

    TERRA Operative Member

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    Yea, high speed is a must for the fibreglass boards.

    You could even try leaving the pads undrilled (etch them a bit further apart than normal) and bending the legs out on the socket then solder them to the pads. The IC will be on the wrong side of the PCB, but you don't have to worry about lining up the holes.

    If you get a press thingo, set up a guide. That way you can set up the first hole correctly, then just slide the PCB along to the next hole etc. That way at least the holes will be in a straight line. Getting them evenly spaced is another matter though....
     
  16. Odje

    Odje Member

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    BigW, Supercheap auto, bunnings etc have a GMC or similar bench drill press for $50 when on special. Otherwise they are around $70. I am tempted to purchase one for the same reason. I want to start making my own PCBs. I have been saying this for years. initially it was the money involved in getting everything. No I am afriad of the quality of results.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    That's pretty cheap... But I'm way overdue to buy a Dremel, so this is a perfect time. Obviously it won't do as good a job as a press, but it would be used a lot more. Hopefully it will do a better job than my 24V cordless.

    Just going off topic for a bit... Does anyone know where I can buy ferric chloride at a decent price? DSE is the only place I've found it so far and it seems like a rip off...
     
  18. TERRA Operative

    TERRA Operative Member

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    Dick Smith has it for $12.98 for 500mL of solution,
    RS Components has it for $53.50 for 2Kg worth of crystals, which makes 5L of solution (551-277).
    I don't think RS will post the stuff though, so you will have to find a trade counter or get it couriered.

    The Sydney trade counter is at:
    25 Pavesi Street, Smithfield NSW 2164.
     
  19. nux

    nux Member

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    I prefer using Sodium/Ammonium Persulphate which is clear, so I can see the PCB being developed without having to take it out of the etchant.

    Jaycar have it here.
     
  20. Goth

    Goth Grumpy Member

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    I've never really looked into which is more cost effective, but Ammonium Persulfate is readily available, and doesn't stain. Have you looked in to using it?
     

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