Holding Irregular Shaped PCBs - Take Advantage of Mounting Holes!

Securing a printed circuit board (PCB) while you work on it becomes even more of a challenge when the PCB is an irregular shape and/or components extend past the edge of the PCB.  Holding odd shaped PCBs or PCBs with components hanging off the side of the board can be made easier by taking advantage of mounting holes in the PCB. The PCB that needs to be held can be attached to a  piece of plexiglass using the mounting holes on the PCB and the same piece of plexiglass attached to your PCBGRIP vise (currently funding on Kickstarter) .  Here's how:

The round PCB seen below is made even more difficult to hold with the LEDs hanging off the edge of the PCB.  We'll use components from the PCBGRIP Vise and a piece of plexiglass to hold the PCB, allowing us to work on and test the PCB. 

First, get a piece of plexiglass.  The plexiglass we choose is 1/8" thick and roughly 150mm wide.  The dimensions of the plexiglass are not really important, as long as it is large enough to hold the PCB and allow the PCB to clear the OpenBeam.  The benefit of using a slightly larger piece is that you could use the same piece for another project, just by drilling additional holes.

 

Next, the plexiglass was lined up with the back edge of the OpenBeam and the PCB placed where we wanted it.  The plexiglass was marked and cut.

 

Three hole locations were marked 7.5mm (half the width of the 15mm OpenBeam) from the edge of the plexiglass.  The PCB was placed where we wanted it and hole locations were marked.  This PCB had two mounting holes, evenly spaced at 30mm between center. 

  

Hole locations ready for drilling.  A 3mm drill bit was used for the three holes that will be used to attach plexiglass to the OpenBeam, since the plexiglass will attach to the OpenBeam with standard M3 hardware.  PCB we were mounting had 3mm mounting holes, so we used the same 3mm bit to drill those holes too.  If you don't have a 3mm bit, a 1/8" bit will do.  A piece of scrap wood was used to support the plexiglass as it was drilled through.

   

Where the plexiglass attaches to the OpenBeam, standard M3 button head screws were inserted and then standard M3 nuts started.  The plexiglass was then attached to the OpenBeam.

 

M3 standoffs were used to attach the PCB to the plexiglass (use whatever sized standoffs you need for your PCB).  The ones we used were plastic and the standoff had one female and one male end.  The PCB could then be easily worked on on the bench or the FlatBall was then attached to the PanaVise® Model 201 base, allowing you to rotate the PCB if you needed to.

 

 

 

The PCB is now secure and you can work on it either on your bench or secured in your PanaVise® Model 201 base.