Sunday, 11 April 2010

Copperboard and Lazer Cutter

So the next stage of making a PCB is acquiring the Copper Board. Martin and i bought at the same time, ordering through Rapid electronics through the college art shop, therefore saving some money. The Copper board is called Plain Copper clad board, code from the Rapid 09 catalog is (34-0810). This took a few days to arrive, once it arrives you have to spray it evenly with a spray paint.

The Spray paint ( yellow works best )

The Plain Copper Clad Board

So when you bring the mirrored PDF file from Fritzing and put it into the lazer cutter you are aiming to remove the paint from the areas where you do not want copper on the PCB. So therefore leaving the paint over the copper you want to keep. I would highly recommend you do a test piece on card to ensure that it is working correctly.

For settings i used 50 power and 50 speed, but it varies heavily with others using 70/70 and 90/40. So it may take a second pass. Be sure that it is all the way through the paint to make sure the Acid bathing works properly.

This one needs to go in the laser cutter again as the copper does not show through properly.

Friday, 9 April 2010


After expressing an interest in making a chipboard I was told that I should download the Fritzing program from this site ( This is the software is free and is very similar to the program used in engineering called EasyPCB, i decided not to go to engineering as it could have cost money and i also wanted a program that i could work on in the studio and at home.

Placing the parts in Fritzing.

Attaching the parts in Fritzing.

Making extra connecting nodes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Sent an e-mail Zotek about their product Zotefoam they asked for my address and and number so that they could send me some information to allow me to make a better decision as to what material to use. So this sample pack arrived at my door within a few days to my surprise. So there was 2 books inside, 1 regarding foam types and 1 regarding foam colour (I have by this point decided that a darker colour would be most useful to create the greatest contrast between bright LED's. The Foam Selector book was very interesting as it had a complete range of densities and rigidities, as well as flame retardant ones and conductive ones.

These are the two books.

The Colour Selector

The Foam Type Codes

The Foam Samples

Button Decision

After having had a chat with Pete and Jon, I decided that i will keep the switches I have been using to date as i am limited due to finances and they are effective for the purpose. One concern that Pete raised about them was that the plastic surround gave it a cheap feel, and as this is something i wish to avoid. He suggested that i could place a filter over those plastic surrounds so that only the red plastic is the only part exposed. This reduces the depth of the switches out side of the over form.

So this is a prototyping how this could work on the product:-

Monday, 5 April 2010

Vacuum Forming Mk1

These are a few images of the first attempt of the vacuum forming. This plastic insert piece will be used as part of the button mount that will be placed on the back side of the product.

Lesson to learn from this, reduce the radius on the plastic, because the foam will be cut with as straight edge as possible the plastic should match this. This is very simple to implement as the reason for the radius is the thickness of the material and me not allowing for it also.

Foam Model Mk1

I asked if engineering could make some prototypes for me in blue foam to give me an idea of scale and form for my model, having decided with advisement from Pete that a foam exterior may be wise. So not knowing which material i will be using, blue foam can provide a good compromise and is very similar weight for now.

What i did was, went to the computer suites and made up my parts in solidworks and saved files as .SLDPRT files. Then received the request for technical help from engineering sheet from Sean and then fill it out, stating material, production method and any other important details. It also helps to go and talk to the engineer who will be doing the work so they know exactly what you would like done. In this case Dave King was the man who did my parts in the Mori Seiki machine which is a milling machine.


I have made a very simple prototype to illustrate how i may use layers in my product to make allow for ease of assembly. This one show the use of three layers, one for a front which will act as a mounting layer for the screen to be pushed through the gaps. There is a middle layer that will be a spacer for PCB board, wiring and power supply to fit in, while also providing some structural strength. The final layer would be the back in which the buttons will be mounted in.