An open source electronics team known as the Ant Team has designed a new desktop PCB CNC mill capable of producing single or double-layer boards, which is a far cry from traditional machines that are large and can cost thousands of dollars. The Compact PCB Maker was created with several goals in mind — it had to be compact, low cost, robust, scalable, easy to build, and have an open license so anyone could make it.
On the hardware end, the Compact PCB Maker is outfitted with a series of bipolar stepper motors, including a pair of Nema-11 JK28HS51–674 for the X and Y axes, and a single LC1574W-04–025 for the Z-axis. A single Turnigy 2632 1000 kV outrunner brushless motor is used for the spindle head, which is controlled by an ECS, while the bipolar series use regular motor drivers. An STM32-based microcontroller runs the show, and most of the CNC mill use 3D-printed parts, which helps keep costs low.
The Compact PCB Maker is aligned using a USB micro camera that’s mapped using the bCNC software suite. The Ant Team has uploaded a repository for the mill on their Bitbucket page, complete with files folders, schematics, code, and a heavily detailed wiki that covers every facet of the machine. They also have a YouTube channel detailing the mill’s creation and its capabilities, as well as a Reddit community that offers support and interaction with different projects. Sadly, for the those who don’t own a 3D printer, the Ant Team does not provide the Compact PCB Maker for sale, even in kit form.