Thursday, June 03, 2010

Gapping sleepers

Slitting disk workPCB track is wonderful stuff - easy to build and very adaptable. The only downside is the chore of putting a gap in the middle of each sleeper to keep the opposing polarities of electric juice apart.

The tool to do this with is a slitting disk in a mini drill. I suppose hand tools can be used but you can't get something like a saw in everywhere and anyway, it just takes too long.

The biggest decision is how to cut the copper. I favour a thin and deep cut. Others try and wear away the metal across a wider area but only remove the metal. My methods is easier and if you are conscientious, allows the gap to be filled afterwards. To be honest I usually can't be bothered with this last step but perhaps I'll do better on this micro layout, detail matters, even the fiddly time consuming stuff.

Obligatory safety note: Slitting disks are one of the more dangerous tools we use. The disk is brittle and will snap with bits flying around the room. Protective goggles are aren't a bad idea especially if you don't wear glasses. The dust isn't good for you either so don't try and hoover it up with your nose.

Obligatory sanity note: The disk is brittle and will snap with bits flying around the room. You can't stick them back together and most shops don't stock them. If you are going a sleeper gapping on a Sunday, stock up.


CF said...

...and get the polarity of the drill the right way round. Just done this job and the mandrill unscrewed itself.

Mark Fielder said...

An easy way to gap copper clad is to make a couple of cuts in the copper with a knife blade and then overheat the area in between with a soldering iron. The copper then just pops off the substrate.


Phil Parker said...

No that IS a neat idea. Must try it.The result should be very tidy.