How many of you make your own PCBs?

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Nucklez
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How many of you make your own PCBs?

Post by Nucklez » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:03 pm

I didn't realize how easy it seems to make your own PCBs. I can see how it would take practice to be perfect too. I was wondering how you all go about doing this? I've seen several articles on how to do this with a laser printer on glossy paper, then iron the toner to the PCB and etch it. What all do you all do, and do you have any suggestions for a first timer. I don't have a laminating machine, but I do have access to laser printers, and it appears that my local Radio Shack has a kit that supplies a PCB and some etching solution for around $15. If this is all true, my portable DreamCast is on it's way to having a home made PCB for it's PSU.

Oh, and do you have any suggestions on software? I have been playing around with ExpressPCB, and I'm looking at the software by CadSoft.
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timmeh87
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Post by timmeh87 » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:34 pm

i use this paper:
http://www.epson.com.sg/products/suppli ... aper.shtml

laser print it off and iron it on, it works well. sometimes takes a few tries to get it all to stick right, so i print off enough copies of my board to fill the whole page


and i use eagle. its good.
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*o*
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Post by *o* » Fri Oct 06, 2006 1:54 am

Use EAGLE, simple easy and EXCELLENT!!


DO not use ferric chloride use the other one (ammonium something i think), it is much much better because you can see.

Also do not scratch the blank board as some guides say just clean it with nail polish remover.

I find normal paper works OK, but the best is the pages of TIME magazine (its free too lol). Get the magazine cut out a page and cut it to the size of an A4 page and place it in your printer, then print on it.

Make sure your iron is very very hot aswell.

soak the board a lot for about 40 minutes to one hour. scrub it lightly with a nail brush an it will be fine.
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arfink
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Post by arfink » Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:36 am

I have messed with this some too, and the most important thing is to make sure that the copper is very clean before you iron the toner on. Use any combination jewelers rouge(sp?), steel wool, scotchbrite, or rubbing alchohol to clean the copper very well. Don't worry about scratching it up a bit, that actually helps the toner to stick on the copper better. I usually use a scotchbrite soaked in rubbing alchohol to clean it up, and sometimes I will use just the teenyest bit of turpentine when there are some stubborn green spots. Jeweler's rouge does the best job of all these, but it's hard to find. My grandfather, who was an electrical engineer, would always use that when making PCB's in order to clean them.

As for the rest of the process, be careful when removing the paperbacking from the toner after you iron it on. I have sometimes lifted off the toner from the copper on accident. I usually scrub up the board to make it slightly scratched up, so that this problem happens less often. Sure, getting the toner off after youve etched is a little more difficult, but it's better than having the acid get underneath the toner and ruin your traces.
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timmeh87
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Post by timmeh87 » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:04 am

ferric chloride etches about 5 times faster than the ammonium stuff, cupric chloride also etches much faster, and it (supposedly) gives you bettter detail. both are not transparent.

so its up to you if you want to see your board or wait less. usually i just solder a small wire to an unused corner so i can easily remove my board to look at without getting chemicals on my hands. or just wrap a wire around it if its small. or use an aligator clip

also, in eagle, if you are a beginner, i reccomend NOT making taces smaller than 24 mil.
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Nucklez
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Post by Nucklez » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:12 am

Thank you all so much. I knew some of you would know how to pull this off. I like the idea about Time Magazine, that is pretty funny and smart at using available resources. I've also read that heating up the chemicals while etching speeds up the process considerably. Have you all tried that, or would it be a waste of time? If 40 minutes is the max, I can definitely find something else to do for 40 minutes.
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timmeh87
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Post by timmeh87 » Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:58 am

you should agitate the mixture while it is etching so it will etch faster and evenly. fish tank heater and bubble rock works. it does etch faster.

heres a handy image:
(long link

1oz. copper clad board is 32um thick, so divide 36 by the etch rate to get time (64 if you have 2oz board of course)
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