Hi Chris,

For the PCB milling, I used to use eagle and the pcbgcode plugin for the longest time. Eagle got kind of funky after autocad bought them and is now mostly a subscription service.

I now use kicad for the schematic and pcb design and an open source program called pcb2gcode to convert gerbers to gcode files for linuxcnc. I just completed a board I sent off to https://www.seeedstudio.com/fusion.html for production. Smooth as silk and unbeatable prices. (10 boards 3.8x2.5" for $4.41(March Sale) + shipping).

I then designed and milled a small board for a calibration jig and used the pcb2gcode to convert the bottom copper gerber to linuxcnc gcode files. Again, pretty smooth once one gets the isolation and offset parameters figured out.

I think kicad is a much superior package to eagle and has no restrictions on boards size or schematic size. As with learning a new cad system, it took a couple of youtube videos and a couple of days of practice, but it really only took a few days to go from nothing to ordering pcbs. Well worth the investment in time. The current kicad V4 release worked the best for me.... I tried V5 from git, but it wasnt quite workable yet. The advantage of V5 is that it will be able to import eagle project schematic and PCB files.

I have done quite a few PCBs by milling, and there are a few tricks like using wider traces and trying to keep most surface mount parts and traces on the bottom layer and use the top layer for jumpers and through hole parts to avoid 2 sided milling. One sided pcbs are much less critical to mill as they are milled, drilled and cutout without changing the mounting. This avoids a lot of headaches of trying to get top and bottom layers aligned.

Lawrence Glaister VE7IT
Nanoose Bay BC, Canada

On 2018-04-07 10:05 PM, Chris Albertson wrote:
Is anyone using a CNC mill to make PCBs?  The video linked below shows
someone doing this on a small mill with Mach 3.  The PCB is certainly not
high tech.  The parts are all through hole with 0.1 inch lead pitch and it
is one side only.  Right out of the 1970's but it is exactly what I want to
make.   More complex PCBs can go to oshpark

Is there a Linux based tool chain?   The part I don't see is how to convert
Gerber files to g-code files.

Then what tools work best?  I think three are needed tiny end mill to route
copper, Tiny spiral mill for cutting the PCB all the way through and a few
micro side drill bits for the through holes.

BTW it seems like the guy in the video could have saved a lot of time by
using a (fake) ground plane that flooded all the empty space.  No need to
mill all that copper away.


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