DIY PCB

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DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:14 pm

there are many youtube videos and forum postings on how to make homemade PCBs
all the methods described across the various sites show various processes from simple to complicated..

for a beginner, it can be an overwhelming amount of data to determine which method is the best or best suited..
especially when everyone claims their method is the best because they have tried all the other methods...
and to add to the confusion is the various types of PCB software, transfer methods, transfer materials, etching solutions, pcb board material type, copper weight, where to buy materials, and other crap people want to discuss..


in the end, the very basic and simple idea is to cover the copper you want to keep, all other exposed copper will be etched..



where to begin describing the differences of these methods is even more complicated than describing the methods themselves due to the fact there is so much to consider to achieve the board you want...
even if you want to experiment just to get an idea of how a process works is not as simple because it requires a decision of a method to utilize and possible extra investment based on that decision..
one thing i can guarantee, you will spend money and spend more money as your technique improves or in attempts to improve...


i believe the most important consideration for a method of choice is based on the types of components used on the board as well as the size constraints of the board...
to say this another way, the bigger the components and the more board space you have, the more forgiving the method to allow wider circuit traces...
the smaller the components and the smaller the design, the tighter the tolerance for circuit traces and more accuracy required...



transfer methods:
just to get a design onto a board can range from simple to complicated..
as stated, the most important consideration for the method of choice depends mainly on accuracy requirements..



sharpie marker
IMO, the most simplest cost effective method is to use a sharpie marker
the marker is used to free hand draw a circuit, or even just draw a few shapes for experimenting..
this is best for beginners or when in need of a quick and dirty circuit board...

the advantage, no need to learn PCB software...wipes clean with acetone..
the disadvantage, its a free hand drawing and will only look as good as your steady hand allows...also, traces are limited to the width of the marker




heat transfer method
heat transfer is probably the most used, most discussed method method on the web
why? it works and its cheap..(depending)
also, cheap only if you already own a laser printer as all heat transfer methods require a laser printer...
why? the ink used in laser printers can be reheated with any clothing iron that stick the ink onto the copper...

there are many heat transfer paper materials that can be used to apply the circuit to the board..
but before transferring the design, the design must be created using PCB software to print onto a paper material of choice..

the cheapest is a pack of 300 sheets of laser printer photo paper http://www.staples.com/Staples-Color-La ... uct_633215
a more expensive option is to use Press-n-peel Blue http://www.techniks.com/
also expensive is toner transfer paper http://www.transfermagic.com/ (i think this is the only method that allows ink jet printers but results vary)

the good thing about the photo paper is you get 280 more sheets of paper at half the cost of 20 press-n-peel
i never used press-n-peel even tho people claim to have very good results
with practice to develop proper technique of iron temp, applied pressure and heating time, very good results can be achieved using photo paper..




photo paper advantages and disadvantages...
main advantage is its cheap and wipes clean with acetone..
good results can be had with proper technique..

disadvantages...after iron on, the board/paper must be soaked in water to allow the paper to come off..
light rubbing of the paper is also required during the soak process which can accidentally pull ink traces off board..
if this happens, wipe the board clean with acetone and try again...



press-n-peel advantages and disadvantages...
main advantage is (supposedly) easier iron method for beginners and or better accuracy for experienced users

the main disadvantage is the cost...
( i dont think the cost is worth it)
after etching, the press and peel must be scrubbed off with steel wool (unlike photo paper with an easy wipe of acetone)


toner transfer paper i do not know about but it allows use of ink jet printers and does not always have consistent results..






any heat transfer method will have one main disadvantage...
the ink must be heated in order for it to stick...this means it has to melt...
melting means a small loss of pattern shape, this can be a very important factor if board design requires very close traces or close component placement
why? traces and or component pad can melt together
only practice of technique will help this, but sometimes technique will never make a difference if trying to design a board for smaller pitch components...(for example: xilinx)

second disadvantage to heat transfer method with photo paper (and as ive read about peel-n-press)... a sharpie marker may be required for touch ups on traces and pads which then adds all the mentioned disadvantages of using a free hand sharpie to draw the touch ups...

third disadvantage to the heat transfer method is the paper is use once...
this means results will vary if making several of the same type of board..and increased chance of improper transfer with the more boards produced...

fourth disadvantage is making double sided PCBs can be difficult to achieve ...especially when the potential exists to underheat the toner resulting in the toner not to stick to the copper or overheat the toner resulting in the toner to smear and run together...




UV transfer method
i never thought the day would come where i would find myself using a UV transfer method to make PCB's...especially when i have been so successful in the past using photo paper and an iron...
i have mentioned several times during describing the heat transfer method about technique..
technique plays a large role in proper heat transfer process...and can also be the most time consuming part of making a PCB due to improper technique, inadequate transfer, touch ups, or clean up and redo


with UV transfer, about the only technique required is opening a beer and finishing it within about 10 minutes during waiting time of UV exposure...
of course, UV transfer requires a UV source and UV sensitive PCBs, i believe this to be the most simple PCB making process to achieve a very high accuracy with little effort and no prior experience..



UV transfer ( as with heat transfer ) requires a PCB software to be utilized to print the design
however, rather than using an iron to heat ink in attempts to transfer the ink from paper to copper, the circuit design is printed to a transparency sheet (remember grade school with overhead projector??) which is placed on top of the PCB and exposed to a UV light source with the printed traces blocking UV exposure..
the blocked traces (or pattern) will act as an etch resist in the same manor as physical ink on the copper...
after UV exposure, the board is dipped in a special solution to remove the UV sensitive film which has been exposed to UV light and then the board is ready for etching...

there is really not much more to describe about the UV transfer method other than to build or buy a UV light box...
i built one using a simple tupperware box and the LED circuit described in this instructable http://www.instructables.com/id/UV-LED-Exposure-Box/
exposure time is about 8-10 minutes with the PCB about ~75mm or ~3" from the light source
overexposure means you lose the traces, under exposure means you dont have traces...
the LED circuit design described in the instructable only requires 8-10 minutes

my simple tupperware UV exposure box...
Image


advantages:
transparency sheets are sold for both laser and ink jet printers...
transparency sheets are about 40$ for 50 sheets, but are the sheets are also reusable...
board production (or reproduction) consistency has an extremely high rate of guarantee...
beginner to advanced user can easily produce accurate PCBs...
developer solution is usually included with the PCB ( on ebay purchases )
developer solution mixture is reusable for many boards
double sided PCB's are much easier to create/recreate..since its easier to align land marks using transparency sheets
photosensitive PCBs are just a bit more expensive but seems easier to work (definitely worth minimal extra cost for beginners or lazy developers)
cheap UV LED's can be found on cheap on ebay.... about ~5$ for 100 LED's



disadvantages:
transparency sheets are about 40$....but as previously stated sheets are reusable
photosensitive PCB's can cost more (i have found the cheap Chinese boards from ebay to be sufficient compared to some more expensive boards)
ebay boards only come in 1.6mm board thickness...thinner boards cannot currently be found on ebay and must be purchased thru other vendors



cost comparison of PCB's:
120mm x 180mm non presensitized PCB = about 3.25$
100mm x 150mm presensitized UV PCB = about 4$
slightly more expensive but IMO worth the extra minimal cost...





final overview
a sharpie marker is great for quick drawing to make a PCB really fast that is not too complicated and can also be good for guinea pig testing of etching solution to determine etching times


heat transfer can be a cheap and quick start up method. This is widely accepted as the normal method for home PCB production..
once proper technique has been achieved, most any PCB design can be created


UV transfer is phenomenal for creating consistent and accurate PCBs with little to no effort involved..
i have used heat transfer for years with great success and not to mention multiple redo's in order to achieve success...
had i known and tried UV transfer sooner, it would have made my life easier...
i dont know if i will ever use heat transfer method again now that i have been "exposed" to UV transfer....



my recommendations, first use heat transfer with photo paper and go to home depot and buy a gallon of acetone...
once you get lazy or feel the need for better accuracy then move on and use UV transfer
or better yet, if you committed to making PCB's just save yourself the trouble and start with a UV setup....
or maybe use the heat transfer method to start off with to gain more appreciation for UV transfer...
Last edited by megalomaniac on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:15 pm

after all the work it takes to hand draw a circuit with a sharpie marker, mess around with trying to iron on a design, or finally building a UV light source to expose that special PCB, your board is still useless until it is dipped into an etching solution...



etching solution
etching solution is a concoction of chemicals to create a specialized acid which will eat away metals or specifically eat away copper.
since we are discussing chemicals, we should cover safety precautions concerning these chemicals..
safety precaution 1. do not drink the chemicals
....and that concludes our safety discussion, lets move on..


lots of sites and how to's will list a name/type of a etching solution along with providing an entire break down of the exact chemical compound and a brief history of the universe. Seriously, is there any need to indicate such and such solution is "potassium hydroxy alpha beta sodium pentathol with an HIV positive boost"

uh huh huh, uh, shut up beavis!!
who cares what it is as long as it works...


Ferric Chloride
the most commonly used etching solution which can usually be found just about anywhere...http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... =927952786
i used this for many years but got tired of going to the store when i needed more or even worse, the store is not open at 3am
cost ~ 10$

advantages:
works well with sharpie marker, heat transfer, and UV transfer
premixed and ready to use...
just pour the liquid into a plastic container big enough to fit your PCB...
drop in the PCB and let the etching begin...
kills weeds and/or neighbors lawn


disadvantages:
very dark liquid, requires removal of PCB to view etching process...
will eventually wear out and either take longer to etch or not etch at all...must dispose and purchase new solution




Copper Chloride
the good stuff..

this is a homebrew etching solution which i started using a few yrs ago and have achieved very good results...
since this is homebrew, that means it must be made, and means the chemicals must be found..
it only requires 2 chemicals: hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide

hydrochloric acid is also known as hydrogen chloride or muriatic acid...
this is commonly found at swimming pool stores for about 5$ for 4 liters
this stuff is very dangerous, works great for killing fire ant mounds also
try to find a concentration of at least 30% or greater

hydrogen peroxide can be found at just about any market or drugstore
you might already have some at home, ask your wife, mom, or sister
this stuff cost about 1$ for 1 liter



so with those two chemicals in hand, its time to homebrew
find a plastic container (tupperware or empty baby wipe container)
(remember, pour acid into water or it might pop and splatter)
pour 2 parts peroxide
pour 1 or 1.5 parts acid
doesnt have to be exact, you really cant screw up the parts measurements even if you eyeball the pouring measurements


thats it, ready to etch..
this stuff is clear to begin with...
during etching it will turn green...
during more and more etching it will turn dark brown...
let it breath in an open container or add a 5$ aquarium pump to blow air into the liquid and it will turn light green again...which will also in turn regenerate its effectiveness...


why go thru the process to make this stuff?
because other than the premixed ferric chloride mentioned above, this is the cheapest etching alternative which is virtually good forever...
total cost to make about $6 - $7



advantages:
works well with sharpie marker, heat transfer, and UV transfer
easy to mix...
just pour the liquid into a plastic container big enough to fit your PCB...
drop in the PCB and let the etching begin...
seems to work forever...definitely worth a 6$ investment


disadvantages:
dark green or brownish liquid, requires removal of PCB to view etching process...




Ammonium Persulfate
Sodium Persulfate

both are purchased in a powder or crystal form...
mixing instructions must be followed exactly to prevent making a high concentration solution which could eat away any etch resist marker, ink, uv stuff...
solution loses effectiveness over time and must be topped off with more powder...but how much to add?? could accidentally make it too strong...

usually cost more expensive at about 25$ for 1 kilo with a mix ration of about 1 part powder to 10 parts water
some claim to achieve better etching results using these types of solutions...ill never understand this statement...(maybe its a sales pitch???)
everything ive read indicates the liquid must be at a temperature of about 40*c - 50*c



i have never used these etching solutions before and i have no need to use it since i have achieved good results with both Copper Chloride and Ferric Chloride...


advantages:
clear or light blue in color which usually makes it easier to view etching process


disadvantages:
improper mixture can ruin PCB...
more expensive...
requires proper liquid temp...
will eventually wear out and either take longer to etch or not etch at all...must add more powder/crystals...but how much to add???



final overview
etching is etching is etching

Ferric Chloride is the most common and easiest to find...cheap, ready to use, but wears out and must be properly disposed of and more must be purchased...
Copper Chloride is the cheapest, easy to mix (forgiving mix ratio) seems to last forever....


no need to pre-heat or warm up these solutions despite many recommendations...
really? these people actually put these chemicals in their microwaves for 40 seconds??

all etching is performed in an etch tank...
an etch tank can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be...from a simple tupperware container to a custom plexiglass enclosure with heater and air pump bubble agitation or liquid sprayers...sometimes etching tanks found online are way overkill...
for my first few years i used Ferric Chloride in a plastic baby wipe container...
then i made a few custom plexiglass etch tanks with custom air tube routing and air pump bubble agitation with Copper Chloride...
now im back to using just a basic 7$ tupperware container....im still using an air pump but this time my tubing is just thrown somewhere in there...and im still using Copper Chloride...


no matter what type of etching solution is used, agitation is recommended but not required...
agitation can be a simple as holding the container in hand and swirling it around a few times during the etch process, or buy a 5$ aquarium air pump and let the bubbles create agitation...

a simple etch tank can cost as little as free if you already have a plastic container or about 7$ - 12$ if you buy a new container and air pump...
if your looking for a custom etch tank the costs can skyrocket if you purchase a pre-made custom enclosure from about 60$ to 400$...
im my opinion, save your money and keep it simple...
Last edited by megalomaniac on Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:16 pm

after etching has been completed the PCB should be dipped into a container of water to soak...soaking the PCB will stop any further etching that may occur from the remaining etch eolution still on the board...
some people indicate to wash it under running water...well sure this is a better solution but only if you go outside to wash off the board...last thing you want to do is wash etching solution down your pipes...


after a good 10minute soak or even just swirling the board in water a few minutes then its time to clean off the etch resist...
as previously indicated, acetone is a great way to wipe clean a board...
just a bit of acetone on a paper towel and wipe on, wipe off...

also as previously indicated, press-n-peel recommendation is to scrub off the etch resist with steel wool....
maybe acetone works...i dont know...


with a clean board and copper traces exposed, now its time to inspect the traces...
you want to make sure you have nice looking traces...
here are some examples...



good traces:
hmmm....looks like a free hand sharpie marker might have been used
Image




bad traces:
either this pic represents an over-etched board or the etch resist was not properly applied
Image




in the past, i have had several boards with bad traces that still work fine...
bad traces might affect analog designs such as using analog to digital converter pins on a microcontroller where bad traces might induce noise...
if the design is not for highly sensitive use, most cases bad traces are acceptable...just perform a continuity check with a multimeter just to confirm the trace is solid and complete...



after inspection is complete and the board had been found to be in satisfactory (or satisfactory enough) its time to drill if required...




drill baby drill
i knew starting out from the beginning that i did not want to use a hand held drill or even a dremel to perform drilling...
my issue is i only have two hands, one to hold the board, one to hold a beer, and i still have a drill left over...



mini pcb drill
first thing that comes to mind about discussing these drills is they are a piece of shit...
second thing that comes to mind about these drills is prison tattoo...
http://i00.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v2/4516 ... ll-PCB.jpg


these drills are small simple hand held drills that run of a 12v source....
they are very cheap at about less than 5$ shipped on ebay...
they will make your hand numb...
drilling small holes with a numb hand can ruin your holes and/or cause the bit to snap because PCB drill bits are thin as hell at about less than 1mm thickness
also be sure to put electrical tape around the exposed contacts to prevent accidental shock

these drills do not accept the standard 1/8" pcb drill bit shaft sizing
good luck finding replacement bits...


advantages:
5$

disadvantages:
vibrate like crazy...will cause hand numbness
must pay special attention to drill at consistent angle and pressure for proper results and to prevent breaking drill bit
where to get replacement bits??




dremel and dremel drill press
dremel and most other rotary tools can be considered an acceptable drill which will accept standardized 1/8" PCB drill bits...
like the prison tattoo drill, it will vibrate...and must pay special attention to ensure consistent angle and pressure is applied to successfully drill holes without breaking the bit...
has anyone here had successful results drilling many holes with almost exact precision using a hand held dremel??
if so, then dremel might be right for you...

so what about purchasing a dremel drill press attachment??
i have considered many times to buy a dremel drill press attachment....
the one thing that had always stopped me from buying is reading others who claim it needs consistent adjustment and realignment..
also, others claim its not precise enough for PCB drilling...
maybe these alignment issues can be fixed at the time of drilling...but the dremel itself is removable...
so the next time it is mounted on the press, it will certainly need realignment again...

having the dermel drill press attachment may allow more use out of your already owned dremel, and may serve as a reliable setup...
for the 50$ price tag of the dremel drill press, its not a bad option but a real drill press can be purchased for a few dollars more...



dremel advantages:
accepts standard 1/8" pcb drill bits
great multi-function drill


dremel disadvantages:
need a steady hand to prevent breaking PCB drill bits
vibration
could cause numbness


dremel drill press advantages:
adds more versatility to your dremel
cheap way to convert dremel into a drill press


dremel drill press advantages:
needs constant realignment
vibration of the entire press unit...vibration can be minimized if it is bolted down, but will still have high center vibration...
some claim the drill press handle itself also causes numbness of the hand...





drill press
i decided to buy a drill press since i it would not require a steady hand and allows for greater chance of precision over a hand held drill..
another reason to consider a drill press is due to the PCB drill bits...these things are thin and tend to break faster with uneven pressure or shaky hands...

this is the drill press i use, was 50$ shipped on ebay a few years ago...wow its gone up in price to 100$ http://www.summitracing.com/parts/WMR-W50005/
this looks like a cheaper alternative matching the same specs as the drill press i purchased http://www.harborfreight.com/5-speed-dr ... 38119.html


both of these drill presses appear to be the same...
they are belt driven and seem to provide a since smooth rotation along with reduced vibration to prevent hand fatigue and helps keep the board steady along with proper drill alignment unlike direct electric motor driven drills such as dremel which create lots of vibration and drilling angle misalignment which will snap the bits....and worst of all, those mini hand held pcb prison tat drills...

example of direct electric motor drill press http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores ... 1_26702_-1
yes its cheaper, but i would advise to avoid these types and go for a belt driven drill


advantages:
plenty of power...great for other at home drilling needs...
reduced vibration...less breakage of PCB drill bits..no hand fatigue...
really quite...especially when drilling boards at 3am...
can hold beer and pull lever with the same hand...


disadvantages:
large.... about 2' tall, 10" wide, 15" depth...may affect overall price due to shipping costs for weight and size...
cost more than other options...








drill bits
ebay is a great source of standard 1/8" shaft drill bits for PCBs
Tungsten Carbide drill bits have many advantages over High Speed Steel bits..
TC makes it easier to drill thru epoxy FR-4 PCBs where as HSS will wear down fast..
TC makes cleaner drill holes...
TC will last longer when used with drill press...they will break / snap easy when used with a hand held dremel..1/8" shaft does not fit in the prison tat drills

HSS bits should be used with hand held dremel or prison tat drills...


the most common size bit range to look for which will fit most thru-hole components is #63 (.0370") - #66 (.0330)"
you really dont need anything smaller...but some thru-hole components require a slightly larger hole...
these larger bit sizes to look for are #56 (.0465) and #53 (.0595)...
anything bigger can usually be handled with regular size drill bits...

also use PCB drill bits which have a collet ring to help with proper centering and insertion depth...


so whats the cost difference between TC and HSS drill bits...not much...
watch out for some of the ebay sellers who do not resharpen used bits...
Buy only new TC bits or resharpened TC bits...
a good set of common size resharpened TC bits can be found from drill bit city http://www.drillbitcity.com/ or http://myworld.ebay.com/drillcity/?_trksid=p4340.l2559
another possible good seller is drillman1 (never purchased from before but product also looks good) http://myworld.ebay.com/drillman1/





final overview
you could buy 25 hand held prison tat drills for the cost of a real drill press and TC bits...
but with drill bits so fragile and susceptible to accidental breakage, i really think the best way to save money is to spend money...


earlier i stated to keep the etch tank simple and save money, well this is where you really want to spend the money on an entry level "real" drill press
i was cautious at first of buying a cheap entry level drill press, but i have not had the need for anything bigger or more powerful...
with that being said, purchasing a real drill press for a few dollars more than a dremel press has really paid off for its abilities to easily drill into other metals and thicker woods which might be more difficult with a dremel...not to mention the precision that can be gained from a real drill press...

with a good set of TC drill bits costing ~15$, and possible accidental breakage with hand held dremel or misaligned dremel press, you will have to spend more money buying drill bits...
it is possible to break drill bits even with a real drill press...especially when doing stupid shit to put the bit under stress...thats when the drillbit demon attacks
however, due to doing stupid shit, i have only broken about 6 bits in about 5-6yrs...and only recently did i really have my first encounter with the drillbit demon...

laser sighting on a drill press may have advantages when it comes to drilling small PCB holes but i dont believe almost double the cost of a press with laser vs without laser is worth the extra money...just have plenty of light and close one eye if currently impaired by double vision...


remember, only purchase a new or resharpened set of TC drill bits with the commonly used sizes...



drill after etching, not before etching...

drill after etching, not before etching...

drill after etching, not before etching...

if you drill before etching, you can accidentally tear, loosen, or rip the etch resist...this can kill your traces and/or pads during etching and end up with a useless board...then you will have to start the process all over again... !! you have been warned !!
Last edited by megalomaniac on Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:18 pm

so the board has been successfully etched and drilled...
now its time to consider a method of protection for the copper traces to prevent erosion...

tinning and masking

trace protection can be tin platting or solder mask
tin plating is a real waste of time...so i wont talk about it

its easier to apply a coat of heat or UV curable solder mask..also makes SMD components easier to solder...
its cheap from china at about 5$ on ebay...
colors currently limited to green, blue, yellow, red, white, black
a 10cc tube goes a long way...


another method of copper protection is glass paint...see this post >> http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/parts/58 ... ost1797527
this option seems nice due to the choice of colors shown here http://www.dickblick.com/products/pebeo-vitrea-160/
later on i definitely want to give this a try and see how it works...


another consideration of copper protection is not to consider at all....
i have never before used solder mask until recently...
i never had a real need to, so in my opinion, solder mask is optional
really, its mostly for protection but mainly for looks...
it all depends what you what to accomplish...


board material
what about PCB board material??
Paper Phenolic and FR4 are the most common...

FR-4 is a fiberglass epoxy which is not flammable and holds up to high temperatures...
if you decide to use a heat curable solder mask, you may want to use FR-4 as board material since you will have to stick the board in the oven
Paper Phenolic is paper...
paper is paper...it burns...


this is what happens to paper phenolic boards that are put in the oven...

Image
:roll: oops



reflow

this is my custom reflow oven with temp probe, custom AVR code for LCD to display time, temp, and temp ramp curve with expected reflow profile curve
its still a work in progress...
Image


Image



oven 20$
LCD 18$
AVR 5$
code $FREE (my own code)


speaking of which, this setup is still on a breadboard....
maybe i should finally design a PCB so i can mount everything in the oven...


of course a special reflow oven and special coded AVR and graphic display is not required...
its overkill, but has been a fun side project i started a few months ago...

talking about reflow, this is a process of using liquid solder to apply on components...
the board is put into the oven and baked...
remember no paper phenolic boards should be put in an oven...



irons
just solder and an iron...thats all you really need

15watt fire starter soldering irons are good for beginners to start learning soldering techniques...
some people ( like me ) will swear that a 850 degree 250watt soldering station makes a world of difference...
if your serious about soldering...or just tired of burning your hands or burning the cat with a 15w fire starter, then consider a soldering station...
something with a nice pencil grip and temp adjust...no need for hot air...

if you need hot air, use a heat gun :)
and dont use hot air on paper phenolic boards




cutting the PCB
some people say to use a PCB guillotine or shear
Image



dont bother wasting your money on a guillotine....
use a dremel with the multi-use cutting wheel....this works perfect...
of course a PCB guillotine will make straight cuts...if your careful you can do the same with a dremel...
it takes more skill and steady hand to cut a straight line with a hand held dremel...
i prefer using a wet tile cutter now over a dremel...
Image


at 80$ cost, its still half the price of a guillotine..and it cuts more shit than a guillotine can





reading back on these the last few posts, it might seem like a lot of specialized tools, materials and techniques are required to make your own PCB...
but in all honesty, its not....
a basic copper clad PCB with a sharpie marker and etching solution is all you need for your first trial run...
then if you feel the need to upgrade your methods, go for it...

i am not a hardcore PCB making hobbiest....
im just lazy and i just found having better tools make the job easier...
Last edited by megalomaniac on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby pr0ton » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:34 pm

Later, I'm sure gonna try to etch a board myself, so thanks for guide! Also a well written and detailed one, personally I like reading a text better than watching a wobbly DIY video.

UV sounds better to me: less chemicals, so maybe a little healthier too :lol:. I wonder how the big production of PCBs goes: heat, UV or scraping..

Next subjects: solder masks and drilling holes :D.
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:36 am

pr0ton wrote:Later, I'm sure gonna try to etch a board myself, so thanks for guide! Also a well written and detailed one, personally I like reading a text better than watching a wobbly DIY video.

UV sounds better to me: less chemicals, so maybe a little healthier too :lol:. I wonder how the big production of PCBs goes: heat, UV or scraping..

Next subjects: solder masks and drilling holes :D.



videos are good...thats how i learned what to do or what not to do...
i spend a lot of time researching before my first attempt....
had i know how simple it was to make PCBs i would not have spent so much time researching...


one thing i forgot to mention about UV...dont look into the light...


usually big fab plants would or still print ink directly onto the board with a big ass printer...
this is kinda the goal of heat transfer method...instead of printing on the board directly, at home, we print onto a piece of paper and heat the paper onto the board to transfer the ink...

technology changes and for a business to survive, cost must be cut to make a profit....
with that...plants are now making a move to using photosensitive UV fabrication methods...
instead of printing ink onto every board (costly ink) a single printed transparent sheet can be used over and over on hundreds/thousands of boards with a UV exposure of about 40 seconds...


im not sure what etching solutions are used at big fab plants, but i know most use temperature controlled liquids to either dunk the board into deep tanks with air injection agitation or vertically hold the board with pressurized sprayers...
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Ashen
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby Ashen » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:29 am

This is awesome info Mega, thanks for the awesome writeup.

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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:48 am

i think im done with the write up...



the only thing i didnt cover is PCB software....
there are so many out there to choose from...


my best suggestion is try a few out and see which one seems easier to use even if you dont know what your doing....
i tried a lot of different software in one day while i was on the hunt for a PCB software...
i found PCB Artist seemed to be the easiest for me to use...and ive never had the need to use any other...
http://www.4pcb.com/free-pcb-layout-software/

PCB artist does not allow creation of gerber files since its a proprietary app, but it prints...thats all thats needed for home fabrication
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Re: DIY PCB

Postby megalomaniac » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:21 pm

just wanted to add some new found discovered information about HCL+hydrogen peroxide (Copper Chloride) homebrew etching solution...


it is still my opinion that this is the best solution to use however i want to add a word of caution...
i am packing and cleaning my lab...
during cleaning, i noticed something odd about a batch of dried etching solution i spilled on my concrete floor...
looks like this stuff will eat thru concrete

oops :roll:


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