PCB Milling Success

I’ve developed a workflow for PCB milling which is a big success for me because I’ve never made a PCB by any method before. My process is very much indebted to LarryLedden’s post and excellent steps and explanations but I did have to make some adjustments to get the Carvey to work for us (me and my students). The guide I put together for them is here Open Blackboard: Milling PCBs: Fritzing, FlatCAM, and Carvey.
One adjustment I made is to really increase the Travel Z height, up to 1mm in fact to be safe. When I started out I had the older smart clamp button board which was very inconsistent, sometimes causing the Z height to go down by a couple mm and damaging copper blanks. But once Inventables sent an updated board it’s been very consistent.
I am not using Eagle but Fritzing to generate Gerber files, and found it essential to make traces as wide as possible, especially on diagonals. Someday I will learn Eagle…


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Great write up! That’s pretty much my workflow as well.
Have you seen Carbide Copper? I use that for any simpler boards.

Carbide Copper looks great for our uses, definitely in the range of simpler boards. Thanks I’ll try it out!

Thanks, I will try my hand at splitting it manually which seems like it will work by carrying the initial settings over to eah file.

The older version of this called “Rapid PCB to GCode” which is still available on the Carbide site already produces separate files, it also has a better selection of tool sizes.

You still have to edit out the non Easel stuff but it is a bit easier than the single file produced by Carbide Copper.


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I tried that older version and it did weird things to the Carvey, making the smart clamp show up under the wasteboard and not showing any tool paths at all. So I ended up using the newer version and have just written a Python program that cleans up and splits up the gcode file. It’s working pretty well now.

Would you mind sharing the converter ??


Here I put it on github. Some disclaimers you can read there and I tried to make it a little flexible with user input to change Z-depth. It’s just a python file so you run it from Terminal with the downloaded ‘undefined.nc’ file in the same folder. Let me know if you have any suggestions, I’m happy to mess with it a little more even though it suits my uses.

Thanks for that, I will have a play when my machine is running again, currently having a z axis play issue being looked at.