Sean Blakemore's Blog

Like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole

20. February 2012 16:43
by Sean

DIY PCB Drill Press for $15 (sort of)

20. February 2012 16:43 by Sean | 0 Comments

I’ve recently been working on producing my own PCBs at home and ran into the problem of how to reliably and accurately drill the holes I needed.

I had a quick search to see how other people were attacking the problem and managed to find a design for a home made drill press on Instructables which was genius in it’s simplicity. Four hinges and some lengths of timber combine to make an almost perfect plunge action with great accuracy. Here is my take on the idea with photos of the mechanism and a quick video showing it in action.


300 x 300mm working area for about $15 in timber and hardware (no, that’s not including the rotary tool!).


Because PCBs are woven fibreglass and epoxy they're tough as anything and we're making tiny holes, usually a millimeter or less. The drill must spin at high RPM to make the outside edge of the tiny diameter bit travel fast enough. This rotary tool will do 35,000 RPM which drives through PCBs like butter.


Hinged rectangle fixed to the back piece means the drill will move vertically with very little arc.


Brackets on either side of the gantry to minimise lateral movement due to slop in the hinges.


Two springs held down by a screw and washer to provide an automatic return. They kept popping out to the sides under load, crossing them over each other seems to keep them in line.


I used to brackets on the solid frame to make sure it wasn't going anywhere.


Small hole drilled all the way through the platform, we don't want the bit hitting the wood.


U-bolts holding the drill in position. I'm using the flexible shaft attachment on a cheapo dremel knock-off.


Tiny 1.05mm tungsten carbide drill bit, these things break very easily.

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