Easy PCBs on the X-Carve

brian saban

Project by

brian saban
NY, NY

General Information

As the title says, this tutorial will show you the easiest and fastest way to create a PCB on the X-carve using Eagle and Chilipeppr. The project will only cover the milling of the PCB straight from a Eagle .brd file, not the design of the circuit or soldering of its components.

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E.brd

.brd Eagle File

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1

Materials

1 minute

- A free copy of Eagle Software to design your board. I have included my sample board in this project, So for this example it is not necessary; you may use mine)
- A blank circuit board (Single sided is fine. I used double as it is what I had on hand.)
- A piece of wide painter’s tape if using drill through components as the leds in this project)
- 2 strips of a good double sided tape to secure the circuit board to the waste board.
- A 10°0.2mm Carbide Flat Bottom PCB Engraving Bit (There are many different sizes you can use, I find this size bit the best)

2

A poor man's mask, securing your board & loading your bit

1 minute

-For this step you will simply cover the copper side of your board with a piece of painter’s tape. This will act as a mask after being milled so when soldering through hole components your solder will not touch the outside copper on the board. If you are a pro solderer I guess you can skip this step.

-Flip the circuit board over and attach two strips of double sided tape to your boards. 1 on top, one on the bottom and affix the board to your waste board.

-And finally Load your PCB Engraving bit into your spindle ( I am using the Dewalt 661 and keep my router set to 4 on the speed control) .

3

Chilipeppr

10 minutes

This step goes over using Chilipeppr (a Gcode sender) to load your .brd file and mill your circuit board.

Important As of the time this tutorial was written Sept. 17th 2015 the drilling holes on the Eagle widget at chilipeppr.com/Grbl is not working, but it is operating on the testing workspace located at chilipeppr.com/xpix Link so remember to use this until the grbl workspace is updated.
- Connect your X-carve to Chilipeppr using the Json server and selecting grbl (there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube for this if you’re not familiar with Chilipeppr.
- Once connected zero your machine as normal in the bottom left corner of your circuit board and zero out your machine.
- Drag the E.brd file into the Chilipeppr browser screen and you should see the circuit in the workspace like the photo.
- Expand the Eagle PCB Widget (Outlined in red in the first photo (using the button outlined in yellow))
- Familiarize yourself with the different settings you have to work with (For the most part the default setting and speeds are fine and what I use on a normal basis) If you need to change your circuit board thickness or size do so now.
- Once all you’re setting are set, press the “Send GCode to Workspace”. Now press play and watch your board come to life, when the machine pauses you have the option of changing to a drill bit for the holes (I just use the same engraving bit most of the time to drill the holes rather than changing bits. It’s your option). Hit Play again and drill your holes. Once finished drilling your holes, if you switched to a drill bit you will need to switch back to the engraving bit and press play to mill the boards outline.
- If you only use a milling bit and use it to drill your holes, disable your M6 pausing and you just press play the first time, sit back and your board is finished in one shot.

4

Finishing up your board

Now remove your board from the machine (I use a small screwdriver from the X-Carve toolkit to gently pry the board from the waste board) and remove the double sided tape strips from the back.

Gently remove the tape from the traces only leaving the tape on the rest of the board (as in the picture)

At this point stick your leds through the opposite side of the board (the side the double sided tape was stuck to). Make sure all positive sides of the leds are on one trace (the longer wire) and all the negative sides are on the other trace.

Solder your leds to the board, clip all the remaining led leads except one (you will attach a 3.3v power supply of battery of your choice to those leads.)

You can now peel off the rest of the painter’s tape if you wish, attach the power and enjoy!!!!!

John Lauer
Good stuff. I would say that ChiliPeppr and it's Eagle board Import is now the easiest, fastest way to mill PCB's.
John Lauer
Ryland Mueller
How would you go about homing this device to the corner of the board? I am struggling with this, whenever I try homing in Universal G-Code Sender (I don't know how in ChiliPeppr) is says homing failed, so when I try to mill, it plunges the bit into the wasteboard.
Ryland Mueller
Ryland Mueller
Part 2 (300 character limit): Also, I have tried using Easel for PCBs, it is a total mess (horrible accuracy, SVGs are a huge pain, broken bits at recommended speed with recommended Inventables PCB bits). Some help would be great until Easel gets a real PCB update.
Ryland Mueller
brian saban
There is a little button on the Axes box in chillipeppr that says Zero Out, press that when you are at where you want your zero to be and you're all set.
brian saban