Hand drilling PCBs on a budget
Do you lack power tools (power drill, dremel, etc)? are you wary to use them? are you unable to get proper drilling precision because you lack a drill stand? and/or are on a severe budget or el cheap-o mode? And still... you really need to those holes done on your recently homemade PCB? Well, look no further, this tip is for you. Hand drilling resorting to an Archimedes drill.
- Very cheap
- Reasonably accurate
- Time consuming
- Very easy to break smaller (<0.9 mm) drill bits
DISCLAMER: If you're an hand model or otherwise depend on the softness of your hands (fingertips mostly) for a living don't use this method.
- Buy an Arcuimedes Hand Drill (can be bought cheaply off ebay) and a set of drill bits ( 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm and 1.5 mm should suffice to most PCB applications -- not counting the mounting holes drilling).
- Attach appropriate drill bit on the Archimedes and drill as shown in the video.
- As the diameter of drill bits increases you may need to spend some "aiming" time and applying short/slow push down movements until you have a proper indentation that guarantees your bit stays in place and you drill accurately (that's what is happening in the begining of the video).
- Drill bit quality counts a good deal, with a good sharp drill bit (after you make the initial indentation) you can drill through a 1.5 mm PCB with just about half a dozen controlled slow push down movements.
- I don't really recommend drilling with drill bits below 0.8 mm, unless you really have to. That said, I do drill with a 0.7 mm bit but that's because I've manage to break all my drill bits in the 0.75 - 0.85 mm range. Trying to drill below 0.7 is an almost guaranteed insta-drill-bit-break-during-first-push endevour.
- If your drill bits are attached at an angle (different from 180º) in regards to the drill, then you're on your merry way to break your drill bit.
- You don't need and shouldn't push down too strongly on the Archimedes drill, just use the minimum force to keep it in place.
- If your doing a lot of push up/down movements for a long time (more than a few seconds), then your drill isn't that sharp and/or you're doing something wrong. Steady slow (or somewhat faster movements for thinner drill bits) push-down with controlled (spring) ascent movements are preferable to crazy fast push-down movements, althought sometimes those are required. Personally, some of my drill bits have degraded in sharpness very rapidly thus forcing to do just that.