Diyode Magazine Reviews the Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine
There’s a fairly new electronics publication called Diyode across the pond in Australia, and apparently, it’s “the first new magazine supporting electronics enthusiasts and makers that Australia has seen in 30 years.” Issue #8 just came out, and we’re thrilled that they did an in-depth review of our Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Milling Machine and loved it.
But don't take our word for it; here are a few soundbites from the review.
Setup and Configuration
"This is about as easy as it gets. Barely five minutes since running a knife through the tape on the box, and we’re ready to start milling."
"This machine is well built. Just enough of everything, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth."
"Installation of the software is clean and simple. We use Macs here at DIYODE. Though we do have a few PCs around as required, it’s about 95% Apple hardware. So we were glad to see Bantam’s own milling software is cross-platform."
"Really, there is no substantial configuration required at all, it’s really very plug-and-play, even if you haven’t used any type of CNC machine before. There are some test-projects included in the box, to help familiarise yourself with everything too (more on that later)."
"While all the setup is taken care of automatically, the software provides you all the flexibility you need."
"You can see all the toolpaths and previews very cleanly, and clear warnings are given if your selected bits are too wide for the milling precision required. Provided you read the feedback in the software, it provides fairly foolproof operation. Of course, if you fail to heed the warnings given by the software, you can still proceed at your own peril."
"When milling, the software provides real time tool location and timing. It also supports automatic pause for tool changes, so you can easily use high precision bits where required, and larger bits where the same detail isn’t needed. Overall this results in a faster output if you’re removing large portions of material, in combination with fine details."
"The spindle itself is a powerful, brushless motor that runs at between 8,500 and 26,000RPM. This is the noisy part, and while you certainly don’t require hearing protection, it’s probably not going to help you make friends in an office environment. That said, we have a large 3-phase 2.2kW spindle on a large CNC machine, and by comparison, this thing is whisper quiet."
"Tool changes are made easy thanks to two small spanners provided as part of the toolkit. They definitely fit inside the confines of the machine’s enclosure better than regular spanners, so we’re glad to see them included."
"First of all, there are a few test projects included in the kit, which are designed to familiarise you with basic operations and functions, and they do a really great job."
Milling Custom PCBs
"The milling software supports Eagle BRD files, Gerber RS-274X, G-Code, and SVG files. This is quite versatile and provides scope for most vector and PCB files too."
"The Eagle BRD file loads quickly and cleanly, and this compatibility is great since many people use Eagle at a hobby level. Our first Gerber export from Altium wasn’t too happy, but fortunately, Bantam provide a profile to ensure Altium appropriately exports everything. Once we followed this, it imported precisely as expected. The lesson here? Read the instructions!"
"Once we got the hang of things, milling PCBs has to be the easiest thing ever! It used to be that getting the board layout done was the easy part, and etching it was the difficult part. Now that’s turned on its head!"
"For us here at Diyode, the mill will provide us rapid prototyping at a speed that we cannot get anywhere in the world at a comparable cost - no matter how much money we’re prepared to spend! In a rapid world of technology (or publishing!), days and weeks matter. It can mean the difference of a deadline, a successful sales pitch, or perhaps just absolute flexibility to get it right."