A406 SOP

Table of Contents

  1. About the A406
  2. Useful Links
  3. Using the A406
    1. Import Your CAD files
    2. Setting the insulation width
    3. Assign Project Tools
    4. Position artwork on blank
    5. Check cut depth
    6. Go!
    7. Flip the board
    8. Register your flipped board

About the A406

The A406 claims to be able to do:

Why should you use the A406 over the LPKF? If you need more manual control over the process, if you’re a little bit more of a power PCB person, then according to our experience, you should get better results from the A406. The LPKF software is more user friendly, but still has a few issues.

Link to A406 Users Manual

A406 Tool Settings


Tool Change

Useful Links

A406-Tool-Settings A406-Tool-Change

Using the A406

The A406 does not have a safety cover. Its steppers are very strong. Before turning on the machine or performing any operation, make sure the table area is clear of obstacles. Resist the temptation to place anything besides the pcb blank on the work area of the machine. Most importantly, keep your hands away from the working area whenever the head is moving!

  1. Turn on the machine. The power switch is located just above the power cord entry on the left rear of the machine.
  2. Turn on the air compressor for the collette.
  3. Start the PhCNC software There are two ‘views’, CAM and CNC. Toggle between them by clicking on the “CNC” button on the top of screen.
  4. The Emergency Stop button will be lit because the machine has not been homed. This is true whenever the software is started or after a user-initiated emergency stop. While the machine is stopped, you cannot move the camera, change tools, or park the device. Click the emergency stop button. A dialog will appear. Choose ‘Yes’ to home the machine.

Import Your CAD files

  1. Go to the CAM view by clicking the “CNC” button.
  2. Import your artwork by selecting File -> Import Gerber & Drill (GV) or clicking on the “Import” button (the left top button).

  1. Use the ‘Select’ button on the upper left to navigate to your Gerber/Excellon file directory. You should see a list of files in the left column.
  2. Files on the left must be ‘mapped’ for the import process. You will need three or four files depending on if your board is one or two layers:
    • Top copper
    • Bottom copper (if applicable)
    • Outline (Mech)
    • Drills
  3. Mapping is done by selecting a filename on the left, then checking the appropriate box on the right.
    • The Gerber interpreter is automatic.
    • Excellon data is trickier. When you select your drill file, you will have the option of ‘Top’ or ‘Bottom’. This means you can drill holes from the top or bottom layer. Always choose ‘Top’, because PhCNC’s natural processing order does the top of the board first, and if holes are drilled on the first side processed, they can be used as fiducials to align the second side. If you are lucky, the default decimal places and zero suppression settings will ‘just work’. The software will draw the drill holes as yellow dots on your artwork. Look carefully and see if the holes seem to be in the right places. If they aren’t, you’ll need to double-click on the drill layer in the upper right pane and edit the settings.
    • Don’t forget to import an outline (mechanical) layer to define the cutout boundary.
    • Only one Gerber file can be used for each layer. You cannot have two files for a top layer or two files for a bottom layer. If you need to combine data from two files, you will have to do that in CAD.
  4. Once all your layers have been mapped, click the ‘Import’ button on the upper right.

Setting the insulation width

Assign Project Tools

Position artwork on blank

Now you will need to choose where on the board you will start the routing process. By default the artwork will be in the center of the board, but that might not be the best place to start drilling. You will also have to consider that the A406 cannot actually use the entire workspace, because it locks up when it moves too close to any edge, forcing you to hit emergency stop twice to home it. Make sure your artwork is positioned correctly to avoid these pitfalls.

Check cut depth


Flip the board

Register your flipped board