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Arduino Nano Ring Sequencer

448 opens
63 copies
1249 downloads 6 comments
Michael Una

Project by

Michael Una
Chicago, USA

General Information

A shield for Arduino Nano with a ring of LEDs and four potentiometers, for making musical instruments or visual displays.

Like this project Open in Easel®
Material Description Price
Circuit Board Blanks

Circuit Board Blanks

Dimensions: 2 sided FR1 circuit board stock 4 in × 6 in (25 pack)

PCB Drill Set

PCB Drill Set

Qty: 10 Sizes, Material: Tungsten Carbide


PCB Milling Bits

PCB Milling Bits

Quantity: 10 (Do not use), Shank Diameter: 1/8 in (Do not use), Cutting Diameter: 0.004 in - 0.008 in (Do not use)

This project's Bill of Materials is not complete.

from Inventables

File Description Unit Price

Bottom side - Illustrator



Top side - Illustrator


Drills - Illustrator



Bottom side - svg


top side1.svg

Top side - svg



Drills - svg


nano shield plus capsule mockup2.brd

Eagle board file


nano shield plus capsule mockup2.sch

Eagle schematic file



Arduino project to sequence the LEDs


Download Zip

from Inventables


Create your board design

The first step is to create your board design. I won’t go into that can of worms here- if you need help getting started, I recommend this guide from Sparkfun:

That said, here are a few guidelines that will make things easier down the line:

- Make your traces and pads as fat as you can get away with. I find 0.04 works well for me.
- Use as few vias as you possibly can. You’ll be doing them by hand later, so be economical.
- Keep all your components to one side and all your traces to the other, as much as possible.


Save the board as a series of images

Once you’ve got the design completed, export three images of the board. Here are the layers each image should contain:

Drills: Pads and Vias
Top side: Pads, Vias, and Top layer
Bottom side: Pads, vias and Bottom layer

Make sure to export the exact board size and not your viewing window size- each image needs to have the exact same dimensions.


Vector trace the images

Bring the board images into your favorite vector drawing software and perform a trace operation to convert the bitmap raster image into vector lines.

I prefer Adobe Illustrator, so I use the live trace function. You’ll want to trace as a black and white image, set the threshold until it looks accurate, and set the tracing to follow paths as closely as possible and to use corners rather than curves.


Mirror the bottom layer horizontally

This is an important step- you need to mirror the bottom layer horizontally. In Adobe Illustrator, there’s a function called Mirror that does this.

The reason is that when we get to carving the board, we have to flip it over for the bottom side. So the image needs to be flipped as well so that everything ends up in the right spot.


Export all the images as .svg

Easel can import an .svg file, so that’s what we’re going to use. Export the Drills, Top and Bottom traced vectors as .svg.


Import the .svgs into Easel

If you haven’t done so yet, go to and create yourself a free account.

The next step is to import each of your .svgs as a separate file into Easel- Drills, Top Side, and Bottom Side.


Carve a pocket to hold your board in place

Take a step back from the board for a second and consider how we’ll hold it in place to drill and carve both sides- we need to line up the first side and then flip the board over and place it exactly in the same spot to make sure the two sides line up correctly.

How do we do that? We use the machine to carve a pocket to hold the board in place. That way we know the pocket is square and aligned with the motion of the machine. Additionally, if we make the pocket exactly as deep as the circuit board material, we know that the top surface will be level for Carvey’s Smart Clamp.

Here’s my pocket, sized for a 4×6″ board:



Load up the drills .svg into Easel and set the depth to go all the way through the board. Select a drill bit that’s just slightly wider than the thickest component leg you’ll be working with.

Mount your circuit board blank into the pocket you created in the last step using double-sided tape. I use regular Scotch double-sided tape, three strips running the length of the board. You don’t have to go crazy, just make sure the board stays put. Make sure the board is snug against the lower left corner of the pocket.

Here’s my file as an example:

Make sure you have “Copper” selected as the material, and change the bit size so Easel knows how big your drill bit is.

One thing you may nee dot do in this step is realize that you need to go back and adjust your pad sizes down so that they’re just barely big enough for the drill bit to fit into. Otherwise, Easel will attempt to remove the entire pad area and that isn’t what you want.

You can adjust the pad sizes either in Easel itself or in your vector drawing program. Just make sure you keep the center of the object as your point of positioning, otherwise your board won’t look right.


Carve the top layer

Keep the board where it is. Now we’re going to carve the top layer traces.

Change out the drill bit for your circuit board milling bit. I like the 20 degree, 0.01" tip but experiment and you’ll find what works for you.

Start a new Easel file and import the .svg for the top layer traces. Position everything in the same place as you did before. Select “copper” as your material, set the depth as 0.015", and make sure the cut is set to “Outline” and “Outside” the lines.

Make sure you set your bit size as 0.01", check that everything looks okay and then let it rip!


Carve the bottom traces

Now for the bottom- we’re almost there!

Use a small flathead screwdriver or spatula to carefully pry your board out of the pocket.

Remove the tape on the bottom, then apply new double-sided tape to the other side. Maker sure you’re flipping the board along the horizontal axis (not vertically!) and tape it down snug against the lower left corner.

Import your .svg into Easel and make sure you set everything the same as the top side- 0.01" bit size, 0.015" depth, outlines outside the lines, and in the right position. You might want to double-check that your traces are flipped horizontally as well.

Make sure everything looks ok, then click Carve and watch the machine work its magic.



If everything went smoothly, you now have a finished 2-sided board with all the traces and holes in the right place. Now you can start soldering in your components.

A few tips:

To make vias, use a small bit of wire or the remains of a trimmed component leg and stick it through the via hole. Solder one side, then flip the board and solder the other. You might have to bend one end into a hook to get it to stay in place while you tack it down.

Use as little solder as possible, work slowly, and be careful. Because there’s no solder mask on the board and a lot of copper surfaces, if you aren’t careful you can get solder all over the place.

And now you have enough knowledge to get started making your own 2-sided boards. Share your creations with us, we’d love to see what you come up with!

Michael Carroll
I see that you use illustrator to convert your image but I don't see that you isolate the traces so the miling machine mills the inverse of the trace lines. I know that the tool that I use has a feature to do this but was wondering if that is a feater within illustrator?
Michael Carroll
Michael Carroll
Also what I do to allign the front and back layers is to drill two holes .125" along the Y axis and use tooling pins the same size to hold the board in place. Then when you need to mill the bottom side you just flip along the Y axis.
Michael Carroll
Matthew White
Flatcam.... This streamlines the whole process and makes it go much faster. I use it to make 40+ boards a week. It was made for this very thing, is free and cuts out a TON of the above steps by doing them for you from the GERBER files.
Matthew White
hobie thompson
this is great stuff in section 8; Drills - there are some type-os . .I appreciate it when they are pointed out to me - great stuff btw. If you need motion graphics I'll be your huckleberry. "One thing you may nee dot do in this step is realize that you need to go back
hobie thompson
Michael Parks
Just want to make sure I am not missing something with the pocket. WHen I go to the example, it is set to carve to a depth of 0.1157" but the PCB copper blanks you sell are 0.06" thick. So should I cut the pocket to 0.06" or 0.1157"? Thanks for the help!
Michael Parks
Frank Ramirez
HI! Just curious what 'cut settings' did you use for Easel? -Frank
Frank Ramirez