Author Topic: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?  (Read 1355 times)

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Offline z.s.tar.gzTopic starter

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Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« on: March 16, 2010, 11:24:06 AM »
There seems to be a million different methods with a million different types of paper and chemicals and stuff so I'm wondering what your advice is on it.

What do I need?
How do I do it?
What should I be aware of?
How much will this cost?
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Offline Hawaii00000

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2010, 01:47:17 PM »
I've done a tiny bit of PCB etching, but not much but here's what a I found..

Your gonna need PCB etchant (ferric chloride), copper clad boards, a laser printer and an iron. You can get the etchant and boards at radio shack if you live in the US, and you can probably find a laser printer at one of those printing shops.

Basically you print the design onto some glossy paper (eg a magazine) with a lazer printer. Then you iron the pattern onto the board and put it into a plastic container with the acid. All those fancy heated/bubling tanks aren't necessary, but if you can heat it up it makes it a lot faster.

The etchant stains and and I'm not sure about the regulations for getting rid of it. Also the etchant is an acid so be careful!

I once got an old kit a radio shack for $4, but its probably going to cost you more like $30 for you fisrt board if you don't have shipping. After that, it will be alot cheaper.

Here's a good video, but you don't need that blue paper stuff, you just need some kind of glossy paper.

How to make a PCB
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 01:48:52 PM by Hawaii00000 »
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Offline hopslink

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2010, 01:50:20 PM »
The toner transfer method is probably the easiest way to get started assuming you want to make boards with surface mount devices and fairly fine traces. Take a look at this >Link<.

After this you might want to look towards the photoresist type methods. A good guide is >Here<.

Offline SmAsH

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 02:27:41 PM »
Also, ferric chloride is kinda sucky for etching, if you can get amonium persulphate, get that.
It doesn't stain and it comes in a powder you mix with hot water so it etches faster.
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Offline Razor Concepts

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 03:05:21 PM »
Just an alternative, I don't want to go through a lengthy etching process, and a lengthier drilling process, and it's hard to do vias. I just use BatchPCB, at $2.50 a square inch it is a steal. I just don't think spending all the time for DIY PCBs is worth it.

Offline vinito

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2010, 05:19:18 PM »
I haven't done much PCB making, but I've been around it a little bit so I'll add my perspective, which might relate in a newbie-to-newbie kind of way.

If you only need to make really simple PCBs, it could be possible to avoid all the copier/laser printer/transfer types of tricky stuff by just using a resist pen to hand draw your circuit on the copper, then just etch it.

Here is a link to a pretty good video series of tutorials for doing boards. Personally I think this way would be a good place to start and this is the way I intend to do it for my next board. They guy has done his own trial and error and has settled on the methods shown in the tutorials. It's not extremely simple, but there are more complex methods to use too. The good thing I like about this tutorial is that he passes over some of the ways you might try that DON'T work well so you can avoid wasting some time.

http://www.getlofi.com/?p=1997

The other thing I like about this method is he uses something other than ferric chloride (maybe the same etchant referrred to by previous posters here) which is apparently less expensive and easier to dispose of.

For the drilling, I wouldn't even try it unless you have some kind of drill press (Dremel, etc.) which will keep the drill bit lined up correctly while drilling. Doing it by hand is just asking for frustration and several broken drill bits. The bits should be as sharp as you can find. Don't scrimp with the drill bit. For a complex board, the drilling will be a real test of patience and perseverance. A 3x3 board can have a couple hundred holes in a hurry. I'd recommend begging someone with a CNC machine to drill the holes if you have a bunch to drill.

If you haven't done any boards at all, start with some some small and simple ones to test your methods and gain some experience. Maybe make a breakout board or a breadboard power regulator or something. Think of something with as few drilled holes as possible.

Just my $.02

Offline Soeren

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 05:40:40 PM »
Hi,

I just use BatchPCB, at $2.50 a square inch it is a steal. I just don't think spending all the time for DIY PCBs is worth it.
That means a dual side Eurocard (~4"*6") is $70,-!
Olimex charges you around $41,- for the same (single sided is cheaper).
So I guess it's worth checking how shipment compares between the two, but with a head start of $29,- I guess Olimex will still come out the winner, even though they have to ship from Bulgaria.

But homemade photo transfer sure is a lot speedier (about half an hour from you print the "film" to the drilling begins), when you wanna test a circuit that cannot work on a proto board.
Regards,
Søren

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Offline Soeren

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 05:54:26 PM »
Hi,

For the drilling, I wouldn't even try it unless you have some kind of drill press (Dremel, etc.) which will keep the drill bit lined up correctly while drilling. Doing it by hand is just asking for frustration and several broken drill bits. The bits should be as sharp as you can find. Don't scrimp with the drill bit.
No problem in hand drilling as long as you use HSS drills. They'll wear down in no time, so it's a good idea to hone them lightly every 50 to 100 holes (a small triangle shaped fine stone will do).

Carbide drills, which seems like you're thinking off, is "allways" sharp. I have yet to see a carbide drill die from being too dull in a hobby setting (they'll break long before, with manual drill presses and even in some pro drills).

That said, I bought 100 resharpened 0.8mm carbides a couple of years ago, but I cannot imagine how it can be economical feasible for whoever resharpens them (as they cost me around $20,- for the lot).
Regards,
Søren

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Offline Webbot

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 10:26:12 PM »
If you try the toner transfer method then be aware that this requires a Laser printer. InkJet/deskJet printers will NOT work.

Also some cheap Laser problems (notably the Brother series) also have problems. This is down to the make up of their 'cartridges'.
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Offline Pratheek

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2010, 05:52:41 AM »
Also be careful while cutting the PCB board. The dust you get while cutting the PCB is not good for the body.

Offline wheelyneil

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2010, 08:23:27 AM »
Hello

Just thought I would drop this Link in it has a good lesson on PCB's

PCB LESSON

Hope it helps ;)
Take care
Neil

Offline z.s.tar.gzTopic starter

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Re: Making my own PCB's at home - Where to start?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2010, 07:16:36 PM »
I like the GetLoFi tutorial best as it really goes in-depth.
I want to experiment with magazine covers first before I get the good (read: expensive) paper.
There's a few little printing shops kinda close to my house so I think I'll call 'em up tomorrow.
Save yourself the typing. Just call me Zach.

 


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