It’s no secret that the Othermill is a phenomenal tool when it comes to milling custom circuit boards. Hobbyist, students, and professionals alike have shared stories of how the Othermill has significantly improved their workflow and allowed them to rapidly prototype like never before (read a few in the story links below).
We love hearing that, almost as much as we love supporting our users and helping making their experience as simple and fun as possible. To that end, we’ve been working hard to increase the support guides we have available. Here is a list of resources that we hope you enjoy and find useful as you mill PCBs on your trusty Othermill.
Using EAGLE Files
CadSoft EAGLE is an app for designing printed circuit boards. It has tools for creating circuit schematics, and for laying out the physical wiring and component placement of circuit boards. Otherplan can read EAGLE board files (with .brd extension) and cut them on the Othermill with almost no configuration or setup on the user’s part. Read our full EAGLE support guide.
Using KiCad to Generate Gerber Files
KiCad is a popular, open-source app suite for designing circuit boards. It runs on Mac, Windows, FreeBSD, and Linux. For KiCad users who want to mill their circuit board designs on the Othermill, this support guide shows you how to generate Gerber files that can be imported into Otherplan.
PCB Design Considerations
There are some important things to consider when designing your board, such as spacing between traces and components. This support guide is intended for people who already have some knowledge of PCB design. If you’re brand new, we recommend Sparkfun’s PCB Basics.
FR-1 Material Guide
FR-1 is a hard, flat material that consists of a thin layer of copper over a non-conductive phenolic resin. It’s usually about the thickness of two or three credit cards and is primarily used for making circuit boards. The thin copper layer can be milled or etched away, leaving traces to which electronic components can be soldered. Our guide delves into the details of working with FR-1, including best fixturing techniques and recommended speeds and feeds.
Is your circuit board not coming out quite right? This guide is for you. Here are solutions to common issues, such as holes and vias not cutting out properly.
That’s just the tip of the Support Guide iceberg. We have a whole collection of Support Guides waiting for you, and we’re consistently working to add new ones. If you think of guides that you would find helpful (or have questions), don’t hesitate to let us know by emailing us at [email protected].
If you’re just getting started with your Othermill, you may want to watch our videos on Unpacking & Setup, as well as Getting Familiar with the Othermill. If you’re ready to mill PCBs, our video on Setting Up Otherplan to Mill Circuit Boards walks you, step by step, through setting up our motion-control software.
There’s no better way to learn than to complete a project. We have a growing number of tutorials for you to choose from to expand your skills. Here are a few PCB-specific tutorials, ranging from beginner to more advanced.
Creating Circuits with EAGLE
In this tutorial, we’ll go over the complete process of building a very simple LED circuit. This circuit may seem like a lot of work considering that it only has three components and just turns on an LED, but once you understand the process, you can scale it up to make much more complex designs.
In this tutorial, we show you how to make a light-up circuit board that displays the famous message: “Hello, World!” It’s designed for Othermill beginners, and we walk you through all the steps.
8-Bit Capacitive Synth
This tutorial will teach you how to make a fun little synthesizer, which you can then hook up to external speakers.
Light-Up PCB Necklace
If you like making jewelry and have some experience using the Othermill, this is a great project for you! It offers a wonderful way to get creative and artistic with double-sided machining.
This tutorial shows you how to make your own Arduino clones on the Othermill. Arduino is a prototyping platform that has a massive user base and tons of tutorials and code available, which allows anyone (with the desire to learn) to build fun electronics projects.
We love hearing about how the Othermill is helping folks in the field. Here are just a few of our user stories.
Prototyping Creativity at CCA’s Hybrid Lab
CCA’s Hybrid Lab has been using the Othermill with interaction design students. It’s allowed instructors to fluidly teach practical PCB design skills while reducing the time spent debugging delicate solderless breadboard projects.
Adafruit’s Ecosystem of Innovation
Adafruit founder Limor Fried uses her Othermill to make precision circuits and prototypes for manufacture. “Our testing procedure is much faster now. We can design and revise our circuit boards in-house within hours instead of weeks.”
Realizing Big Dreams in Uganda
Educators with Uganda’s Fundi Bots program use the Othermill to introduce students to CNC technology, improve their prototyping processes, and develop better educational materials for their robotics club, all of which were previously out of reach.
On Point with Orion Labs
Engineer Star Simpson relies on her Othermill for producing same-day PCB prototypes. “With my Othermill, not only do I own the means for making circuit boards — powerful for any electronics engineer — I can also go from concept to prototype in mere hours.”