The best way to shoot PCBs...

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Shree KumarShree Kumar 06/07/2018 at 16:457 Comments

Shooting PCBs with a camera, and then converting them into flat images can be frustrating.  Fight with lighting, lens correction, perspective correction, remove blemishes, color correction, find the corners, crop... no wonder I don't do a perfect job.  Lazy me just shoots, crops & uploads.

I seem to have found the best way to shoot PCBs today - don't shoot them, just scan them using a regullar flatbed scanner:

I like the color output from the scanner.  The scan is perfectly rectangular.  Crop & upload.  Could life get simpler ?

(Of course, this technique won't work for PCBs with mounted components. But that's life.)


Morning.Star wrote 06/08/2018 at 05:17 point

There is also this ;-)
Its a piece of software I wrote years ago for a photographer friend who needed to do perspective correction. Simply load the original image, drag the corners of the board to cover the distorted shape and hit the button, then save the cropped and corrected rectangle.
It cant handle ballooning from a macro lens, but it can correct any parallax created by shooting angle.

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Shree Kumar wrote 06/08/2018 at 06:48 point

I will give this a try, @Morning.Star !

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Stuart Longland wrote 06/08/2018 at 01:41 point

Did that many moons ago to photograph the motherboard of an old Tektronics X terminal (which I still have) in the days before I had access to a digital camera.  I think the scanner was an ancient SCSI A3 Umax scanner, configured in Linux under SANE.

More recently, I have scanned a Nokia 3310 keypad PCB that way on a more modern scanner (either the one in the Epson multi-function printer we have or a USB Canon).

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Shree Kumar wrote 06/08/2018 at 06:53 point

I don't like the resolution of the scanner, though. My 24 MP camera generates way more detailed pictures.  But the flatness of the scanner is hard to beat.  And the color doesn't need any correction, IMO.

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Dylan Brophy wrote 06/07/2018 at 23:08 point

I might have to try this

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K.C. Lee wrote 06/07/2018 at 17:01 point

Older scanners works fine with mounted components.  This one is from my old (XP only) hp scanner.  The connector at the upper left hand corner is about 1" tall. Everything seems to be in focus.

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Shree Kumar wrote 06/08/2018 at 06:50 point

Nice. I haven't tried the scanner yet with mounted components yet.  The case of this log post was a perfect one for scanning - one side of the board is designed such that it doesn't need any components mounted on it.

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