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Philip Maynard: The Robot is Getting Somewhere
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The Robot is Getting Somewhere · Oct 17, 09:58 AM by Philip Maynard

This week the robot comes alive. We have figured out the inputs from the IR rangers, and the outputs to the motors. Our final step to making it mobile is assembling some wheel encoders. To save our budget, we’ve purchased some sensors and will be etching our own printed circuit boards (PBCs) to mount them on.

The PCB etching system is pretty slick. You design the layout in a program made for circuit layout, or freehand in a drawing program. Using a laser printer, you print the layout to a special sheet of paper. The paper is coated with a plastic material that combines with the toner to make a mask. By pressing the mask sheet onto a blank copper-clad board with heat from an iron, the mask is transferred to the copper board. Etching the board in an acid solution removes all the copper not masked by the toner and plastic. The mask is then scraped off, leaving crisp, clean traces. Holes are drilled for mounting components, and you have a professional-looking board that’s customized for your application!

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