how to make almost anything | fall 2017
Week 2 Experiences: This week we made a programmer (that can program other programmers).
Jonah & Eytan gave us an introduction to the PCB Milling Machine (they helped us to characterize our machine!)
The standard process of uploading though mods(.cba.mit.edu) continued to be the same for PCB board milling. In the Archshop we had two different machines a Roland and a [TODO: INSERT NAME OF OTHER MACHINE]
There were two kinds of end mills: 1/64 and 1/32. 1/64 is used for milling the top of the board while 1/32 is used for the outline of the board.
I created a nice checklist/guide to try to anticipate some of the more common failure modes each step (and update it as I discover more)
If things go wrong:
Having trouble with the serial server throwing an error? Close the server (command line) and then reopen the serial device.
If your board is going crazy and you want it to stop pressing the PAUSE button stops it faster than any other method (even CANCEL) so you can stop and assess damage.
If you have to restart, make sure you let the old job complete before beginning something new.
A bit on my own failure modes: I was determined not to break any end mills (which of course meant that I actually broke 2).The Roland machine actually has two set screws while the machine I was first trained on has only 1. This resulted in more vibration and a broken 1/32 end mill.
After the initial tragedy, I double checked everything with Jonah before tentatively trying again. The first round of milling went well, but then the end mill broke in the same place as the first time. After more throughly investigating, it seemed as though the end mill had broken on the remains of the first end mill which had become lodged in the board out of view.
It also appears as though despite hitting cancel (&various other buttons), closing the serial divide and turning the entire mill off and then on again, the Roland machine is very determined to continue its path. Pull out or up the end mill and let it go about it’s business.
Soldering and parts collection were pretty uneventful - I have had a lot of experience with both SMT, soldering and PCBs so this process went smoothly (although I mixed up my LEDs). There is definitely something very meditative about soldering that I really enjoy.
Although, I much prefer the wool method of cleaning solder rather than the sponge method.
Programming the board was also reasonably uneventful - I actually downloaded the programer onto my own machine. Justin helped a lot with this step - at first I didn’t realize you needed to program the programmer with another programmer via the headers. It appears as though my stack seems to be working - we tested my programmer on his motor controller and it worked!