TOOLS: Flatbed scanner for PCBs, sketches, bookkeeping

in tools by Ian | 4 comments

Our favorite tools have a new home on the wiki. Each week we’ll muse about one of them. Have your own tool review? We’ll post that too!

A cheap flatbed scanner is super useful in the shop. We use it to post design sketches, scan PCBs, and archive receipts.

You might remember that Free PCB Sunday used to look like the image on the left. This photo was taken in a light tent, but we could never get PCB shots without reflections of lights or the camera lens. This is probably the best of a dozen shots.

On the right is a scan of the same board. Clean, square, done in one take. This image is ready for a post, or open it in your favorite graphics program and draw notes for the next revision.

The only problem we’re run into is that the level of detail is high and the resulting JPGs can be huge. A despeckle filter helps a little.

This particular scanner is a Canon LiDE-100 that cost about $50. We chose it because it was the cheapest scanner within biking distance. It’s powered over USB, so there’s no adapter to worry about. It works fine, but any cheap scanner would do.

There’s more tools too.

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  1. bearmos says:

    a great tool for images in general…especially doing some quick resizes:

    to resize an entire folder of JPG’s to 1024 pixels width, simple enter (on the command line in your image directory) “mogrify -resize 1024x *.jpg”. . .done

    it also does a great job at converting formats – i’m sure others have used it much more extensively than me, though.

  2. noel says:

    Great tip on the pcb scanner. For the resizing, I usually use fastone resizer. It’s free and I can resize and add a watermark in one go.

  3. DrF says:

    For resizing large numbers of JPG’s I tend to use IrFanview its free has loads of options and decent batch functions. Not used my scanner in a long time and totally forgot the printer has one built in :p

  4. Jake says:

    only 2 n’s in Canon ;)

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