If at first you don’t succeed…

Latest attempt at PCB etching

Latest attempt at PCB etching

Today I decided to give PCB isolation milling another try using PCB-GCODE. My first attempt seemed to remove too much copper on one side.

After a few days of consideration and reading about other people’s experiences I was certain it must have something to do with my settings.

After reducing the maximum isolation down to the width of my router bit, I was left with this. It still isn’t perfect, but this is down to my poor design skills in Eagle CAD.

Practice makes perfect. But as for the PCB etching via the isolation method, I am very happy with the results. I think I will soon be able to start building my circuit!

If anyone is interested in the Gcode as a sample to test this method or the settings, I will upload them in an article very soon.

Keep posted and feel free to leave any comments below!

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  • http://twitter.com/tgdavies tgdavies (@tgdavies)

    If you have a dial indicator, I’d be interested in knowing the TIR of your spindle, as described here: http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/gcnc/ in section 2.3.2.


  • http://@markrmoran Mark Moran

    How does the CNC3020 compare to the Zen Toolworks 7×7 or 7×12, which I have seen other people use to do isolation milling, even double sided boards?

    • http://makerflux.com/members/myfrog/ Steven Pearson

      Hi Mark, honestly I have no idea… I’m sorry!

      However, I have had some success making double sided boards with this CNC. Maybe I should demonstrate it sometime.

      • Rowan

        Yeah – that would be awesome!

  • tim

    hi , is possible you help me ?
    i whant buy the same machine for engraved a smal item pocket watch , compass , …
    is possible this machine engraved a small gravure ? look exemple of gravure : http://www.befr.ebay.be/itm/271088538355

    thank you for you reply

    • http://makerflux.com/members/myfrog/ Steven Pearson

      Hi Tim, Yes I see no reason why not! However you would need to find a way to secure it well.

  • Victor

    Hello Steven
    I have the same machine, i goto start to make my pcbs, but i never use a cnc machine, i use the eagle editor, i have installed the pcb-gcode, please, could you teach me about the use and calibration of that?
    Many thanks in advance, best regards

  • Sohaib

    Hi Steven! I was thinking of getting a machine like this from ebay. Since it’s been a while since you bought yours, could you tell me a bit more about your experience so far. Are you facing any play in the machine? How accurate are these cnc’s? Is milling a 100 pin QFP possible with this? How is the experience with double sided boards now? Just wanted to know your opinion since it’s been over 6 months since you’ve bought it. Thanks 🙂

  • Hanspeter Baer

    Thanks Steven,

    I bought the CNC3020Z-DQ this the ball screw model after seeing your youtube
    video on milling PCB’s.

    I must add that I own a Zen Toolworks 12×12, this is of a PVC construction and

    the X axis is not rigid as I wanted to mill very fine SMD PCB traces.

    Am still fine tuning stepper electronics YOOCNC-NT65-3X. I guess the stepper

    driving voltage of 28volts as a bit to high.

    I replace all three 100pf OSC. capacitor with 330pf. I remove all ‘Auto low power circuit’

    After looking at the PWM signals on my scope, I don’t think this circuit is doing what

    the manufacturer sort to archive!.

    I rather use the 74HC14 on PCB to buffer & improve the all step & directional signals

    to & from the opto couplers.

    Thanks for your videos and these are very educative for those contemplating mill their


  • Esko Tauriainen

    Can you tell something about feedrates, depth of milling etc.?

    I have problems that when machining several passes, one side isn’t so wide than other side. Backlashes are ok, but i think that pcbgcode makes wrong code. Can you tell something about that ULP settings also?

    Regards, Esko

  • Mark Chapman

    Hello Steven,
    What’s the thinnest single or double sided PCB you think you can engrave/mill?
    Regards, Mark, UK