Cutting PCB's

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Usually I use 1.6mm FR4 epoxy boards and use a hand saw to cut them. This recent project required a 0.8mm board and I figured: let me see if I can cut the board with a pair of scissors: it works wonderfully well ! That saves a lot of work and dust.

One of the boards is a 4 ch ledstrip dimmer and as you can see: a tight fit ! I used a B&D powerfile and a handfile for the trim.

Now soldering them up. That's a tedious job.

Btw, the boards were made by www.elecfreaks.com
The red color option was for free in December 2012, but hey, they decided to continue that gesture. Great guys!

Nard

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Wow, a very tight fit!

Looks like you've been busy lately. You'll have to post another photo when the LCD is powered up.

JC

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Jay wrote:

Quote:
You'll have to post another photo when the LCD is powered up.
I will :) Came with an adapterboard to make it fit on an Arduino Mega. My intention is to put it on my motorbike: the (touch)screen is large enough to control it with the gloves on: 4 soft buttons or so :D But I'll need to write a Bascom driver; Arduino sketch is already available, but hehe, we do Bascom !

cheers

Nard

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Quote:
let me see if I can cut the board with a pair of scissors

There is a danger you can ruin your copper layer with scissors as this method locally puts significant tensions on the board. Perhaps not that important in your case (pun intended), but in general I would not recommend scissors for the job. I usually use a xacto knife for V-cut which is ok for not that straight lines.
With your project seems like that small triangles are not essential - perhaps you should consider a rectangular or trapezoidal PCB shape for the next batch.

No RSTDISBL, no fun!

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I'll try a knife next time, and make a groove. I use to do that for acrylic sheets of 2mm. Works well.
I agree that with copper traces close to the edge, the strain may cause a track to crack. But the first board is up and running: the one with the green display. And that one has traces close to the edge.

And I also tried the Arduino code for the 3.2"TFT, 240x400 pixels. And understand now why people love it. The user interface of the Arduino SW is soooo straight forward: very well done, guys. I am a newbie on Arduino but managed to load this sketch in 15 minutes.

@Jay: it works ! And the fact that it's a bit noisy is due to no filtering of the touch-data in the Arduino SW.

cheers

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@Brutte: About the odd shape of the TightFit: nope, I needed all available space. Next time I will use a larger housing. For some reason I try to make every project as small as possible in size. With as much as possible options. Must be a disease, ... oe a virus.

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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A paper cutter or a metal shear also work very well. Both are even easier than scissors to make straight cuts. But as others have mentioned, be sure there are no traces close to the cut.

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I have used a shear.. works ok. I have not tried a tile saw, but I think that might work well as they are designed to trap the dust.

Dr. David Harris OpenLCB Development Team openlcb.org

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Hi Nard,

Nice Job! I did not realize the GLCD was multi-colored until you posted the photo.

I've not yet jumped on the Arduino bandwagon, but with no canned Bascom or ZBasic Xmega internal USB module drivers I might have to investigate it one of these days.

JC

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I use a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. Variable speed. Works like a charm, and I can sand and tough spots down if needed.

EDIT: NARD, that is one wicked cool project!

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

"If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue!" - Kartman

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB, RSLogix user

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Thanks guys.

@JC: Mark is working on USB implementation in Bascom. And for once, let me vent this: I regret the fact that he gets no extra support from Atmel: he gets treated like you and me: users. IMO a shame, as BascomAVR is a startingpoint for many.
Arduino is tempting but as Jim wrote lately: it's a kind of Latin. I agree. But C is very powerfull: we would need just 10% of the keystrokes we use in Bascom. But that Latin, huh ... sigh. I will have to study the Arduino-code for this graphLCD, so I may get infected :D
The display has 6 bits for each color: that makes 2^18-1, roughly 260000 colors. 16 bit databus to keep it speedy, but at a price: it takes a lot of I/O pins. A Mega1280/2560 has plenty, that's the good news. Touchscreen with it's own (SPI) controller and a SD-slot on the rear, for bulk storage. There is room for serial flash, and once I get the display up and running in Bascom, I will try that out, just for the sake of .... fun.

@David: I wish I had a shear. And not just for PCB's. Nice project, your openlcb.org

@Jim: Do you use the brown discs, or the metal circular sawblade ? It always makes such a mess: dust and smell. But I may be doing something wrong ... ;)

@aero1: I had to ponder a bit on what you mean with a paper cutter: 'cause mine has a rolling knife. But your version is the one with a metal blade, like a sable. Good idea, I will pick one up.

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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I use the diamond wheel http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-545... with dremmel and cuts very nicely without wearing off, also the holes reduce the heat.
The problem is that unless you have a right angle converter like http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-575... you have to do the cut in an angle with reference to the pcb level.

Alex

"For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter."
Author Unknown

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I use the brown disc, and the diamond one as well. Yes it can get messy and smell.

Then while I was installing laminate flooring in the entry of the house I used something called a multi-purpose tool from Ryobi:
http://www.ryobitools.com/catalo...
I use the half-round cutter and though noisy as hell, it does a nice job once you get the hang of it and dont force the tool into the work, but let it 'glide' and cut a notch down the length of the board, then let the tool ride up and down the notch.

Speaking of Arduino, when I was at maker faire in September I saw an arduino shield that was a TFT color touchscreen with source code. Yu might want to take a look at that Nard.

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

"If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue!" - Kartman

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB, RSLogix user

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Jim: brilliant tip. I do have such a machine but did not think of it as a PCB cutter. Use it as a wireless sander.

About the TFT: it plugs into an Arduino Mega shield, which sits on an Arduino Mega Board. Three layers :) And the SW for the Arduino I downloaded from elecfreaks-wiki. All I need to do now is write a Bascom driver :)

@Alex: I have a Proxxon which does not come with such a right angle converter. And I already messed up that nice saw-blade (but it fixed a difficult to fix problem)

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Tried it. No way, it makes a terrible noise, almost cut a track (it drifts) Scissors worked better

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A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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Scissors? That sounds cumbersome, at least with what I think of as scissors! (Haven't tried it) :)

At school we have one of these plate cutter bench things meant for aluminium plates, we use it for cutting PCB too, really easy, align and one pull on the lever and it's cut perfectly straight!

- Brian

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I cut PCB's wih this machine. It is somewhat difficult to cut straight. But there is the advantage that it stops cutting when you stop pushing your workpiece, so you can always correct. You could hunt for some broader blades for a straighter cut.
[img]http://www.baptist.nl/uploads/im...(1).jpg[/img]

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to cut straight all you need is to attach a steady rectangular guide (with a couple of clamps) on the machine board in the angle that you want and then slide the PCB against it (assuming that the cutting line is parallel with one of the sided)
I mean similar to http://www.familyhandyman.com/DI...

Alex

"For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter."
Author Unknown

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I had been suggesting a Wet Tile Cutter ... can be had cheaply - about $60. Much less messy because the dust goes into the water in the bottom. Alos, the blades are rugged, since they are made to cut ceramic tile. Here's one from Amazon.

Dr. David Harris OpenLCB Development Team openlcb.org

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Sorry Nard you had trouble.
How about a small bandsaw?

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

"If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue!" - Kartman

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB, RSLogix user

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For those who use saws of any sort: WEAR A RESPIRATOR AND CLEAN UP CAREFULLY AFTERWARD!You are filling the air with tiny glass fibers known to cause lung cancer.

And I use some heavy duty shears (scissors for metal) with regular thickness boards with no problem, but I also make sure no traces are near the edges.

Smiley

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I have also used the score and break method.. which is clean. Use new blade, multiple cuts along the score line, on both sides.

Agree with the comments about health risks ... be safe.

Dr. David Harris OpenLCB Development Team openlcb.org

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Well, I can add to the list of methods that DON'T work well :cry:

I purchased a small scroll saw (Web photo) to cut PCBs and plexiglass for front panels and it just doesn't work well for me. The blade bends to much to the left and right making for a wavy, curvy, edge.

Increasing the blade tension and trying to only apply force along the straight line to be cut did not improve the cut adequately to be useful.

JC

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Thanks DocJC for info. I was just trying to use my scroll saw to see if it can cut PCBs cleanly.

With a V-cut with a knife I suggest you should also place/do small drill holes at ends/corners of each of straight lines/intersections. Use those holes as reference points and a ruler as a guide for a knife. This would ease cutting of PCB on both sizes so that both lines exactly match on both sides. I use this method with my DIY PCBs because I cut PCBs before transferring art work / etching.

No RSTDISBL, no fun!

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smileymicros wrote:
For those who use saws of any sort: WEAR A RESPIRATOR AND CLEAN UP CAREFULLY AFTERWARD!You are filling the air with tiny glass fibers known to cause lung cancer.

That is what I heard too but I read differently in some internet resources and I'm not sure what to think.

Please refer to
http://engineering.case.edu/thin...

http://www.toolboxtopics.com/Gen...

Alex

"For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter."
Author Unknown

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"For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter."
Author Unknown

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JC

Remember that a scroll saw does not cut "straight" but on an angle to the blade. Watch the blade's path through the part, not the part's orientation to the table, and you'll get nice cuts.

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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How much exposure to particles makes it dangerous? I sand PCB boards and fiberglass when I repair boards at my job and occasionally breathe the stuff. I probably sand and breath FR4-like material once per month for an hour. Maybe an hour every month or two is seriously bad? I try not to breathe and hold my breath or wear a dust mask but not always. Is this "long term exposure"?

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Of the top of my head, I would say you are getting quite a lot of exposure. The fibers are probably hard for your lungs to clear, similarly to asbestos. You should wear a mask when do that work.

Dr. David Harris OpenLCB Development Team openlcb.org

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Okay, things have changed since the last time I looked at this. Apparently the health risks are not entirely clear. At one time it was linked to cancer, but that is no longer the case. Sorry for the misinformation. Still, from what I read, it seems wise to limit the amount of the stuff you breath.

Smiley

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smileymicros wrote:
Still, from what I read, it seems wise to limit the amount of the stuff you breath.

Smiley

For sure, there is no need to inhale stuff no matter how innocent(?) they may be, a mask is usually a wise move when cutting things that generate dust.

Alex

"For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter."
Author Unknown

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I was wondering if one of those tile cutters would work.

Yes, I use scissors for 30 thousandths board. Hard to do when the cut is long.

I looked through the Micro Mark flyer for one of those tiny hobby table saws. Goodness! Those cost more than real table saws!

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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Fibreglass dust is less problematic than the soldermask dust.

When ever machining soldermask make sure the dust is excluded.

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Torby wrote:
I was wondering if one of those tile cutters would work.

Yes, I use scissors for 30 thousandths board. Hard to do when the cut is long.

I looked through the Micro Mark flyer for one of those tiny hobby table saws. Goodness! Those cost more than real table saws!

I have a chop-micro-saw ... not good for cutting circuit boards, not enough clearance, and therefore dangerous.

I think the tile-saws would be just the thing or a large metal shear. I borrowed one at the local shop .. you can chop a lot of boards in 10 minutes.

Dr. David Harris OpenLCB Development Team openlcb.org

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I personally use a shear, but on ocasion I scribe and break. A tip some might find useful using the scribe and break method is as follows. I use a #11 X-acto blade. For best results, I use the back side of the blade. This scrapes away a small amount of material allowing for deeper cuts. The sharpened edge will not easily cut as deep. This also reduces the occasional problem I have where the blade catches and cuts in a direction I don't want.

Roger

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I'm wondering if a rotary fabric cutter would work for scribe and break. They are essentially a rolling knife blade.

A cutting mat is a must for those, and a thick ruler is a good idea.

Sid

Life... is a state of mind

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Torby wrote:
I looked through the Micro Mark flyer for one of those tiny hobby table saws. Goodness! Those cost more than real table saws!

Well, I suppose that depends what you consider to be a "real" table saw :wink: .

I doubt a rotary cutter would work too well. IME a successful score and snap requires essentially a V-score--if I'm doing it by hand I'll typically do a few passes with a utility knife and after the first pass with the blade vertical, I'll tilt the blade left or right by ~30° on alternate passes. The V-shaped groove that results allows the material to flex far enough to snap the inner layers of substrate more easily.

For moderate quantities or for odd shapes/notches, a small bandsaw would be a good choice. It won't throw the dust around quite as badly as a table saw, and with a thin blade you can even do curves. The downside is that fiberglass will kill steel blades relatively quickly, and carbide-toothed blades aren't usually an option for small saws.

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thavinator wrote:
The downside is that fiberglass will kill steel blades relatively quickly, and carbide-toothed blades aren't usually an option for small saws.

Proxxon has even diamond blades for their small bandsaw
http://www.proxxon.com/eng/html/27172.php

There is also a cheaper alternative - a small tabletop circular saw http://www.proxxon.com/eng/html/27006.php which with a diamond disc will do the job for straight cuts.

The price is as for tools completely manufactured in Germany, also is the quality.

Dor

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thavinator wrote:
I doubt a rotary cutter would work too well. IME a successful score and snap requires essentially a V-score--if I'm doing it by hand I'll typically do a few passes with a utility knife and after the first pass with the blade vertical, I'll tilt the blade left or right by ~30° on alternate passes. The V-shaped groove that results allows the material to flex far enough to snap the inner layers of substrate more easily.

There are inner layers in a 0.8mm board ? I think the rotary fabric cutter may be able to cut straight through that if you apply a little force.

Sid

Life... is a state of mind

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Chauncey,

We have pressed a four layer board no more than 0.7mm thick

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ignoramus wrote:
We have pressed a four layer board no more than 0.7mm thick

Wow, that is thin.

I think I would still give the rotary fabric cutter a try - I have used those for thicker things than that with good results. I haven't cut fiberglass, but I think anything you can cut with regular scissors would be an easy match. The handle allows you to apply more pressure than you can easily do with an X-acto knife, and the blade is tougher too.

Sid

Life... is a state of mind

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these have proven to be just about perfect for the price and doing straight cuts using inexpensive diamond blades and proto pcb qtys . Cuts are about .010" to .020" width

http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-mighty-mite-table-saw-93211.html
since its imported, something similar is probably available under another supplier's name in various countries

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Now THAT's cute! Might have to get one.

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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That is a cute lil table saw.
You can find some cheap 4" diamond blades here:
http://www.lopacki.com/sawblades/

And you could also just make your own table saw.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPzAMOYYyKM

-carl

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WOW!! That is a neat little saw! I have a harbor freight two towns over...ROAD TRIP!!!!

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

"If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue!" - Kartman

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB, RSLogix user

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Nice indeed. But I couldn't find a local distributor. Sigh ....
Sometimes (like now) I envy you, guys !

A GIF is worth a thousend words   They are called Rosa, Sylvia, Tricia, and Ulyana. You can find them https://www.linuxmint.com/

Dragon broken ? http://aplomb.nl/TechStuff/Dragon/Dragon.html for how-to-fix tips

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They're "Harbor" freight. You'd think there'd be lots of harbors in the Netherlands

Bet it'd cost fortunes to ship one there. You'd have to work out the power differences too.

I love how the guy embedded a drawer slide on his homebuilt cutter. His alignment tool looks pretty handy too. The blade near the edge is the real genius in his design.

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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I wonder how long he will remain right-handed ...

Ross McKenzie, Melbourne Australia

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Till one day when he's out mowing hay...

Then he just reverses the drive and turns the thing around.

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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One limb at a time, eh ?

Sid

Life... is a state of mind