Making PCBs at Home

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Sean Lemieux
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Making PCBs at Home

Post by Sean Lemieux » Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:54 am

Hey guys, we had a question from a subscriber in regards to finding a DIY Printed Circuit Board Creator. Would any of you happen to know a process or an available kit that would accomplish this? Here is the question for reference:

"I have some really old magazines which have full scale templates for printed circuit boards that you can make from the copy. Is it possible to make this kind of circuit board at home?
I've attached a copy of one in an old magazine I would like to make. As you notice in the copy, they give you the right to copy it."

Printed Circuit Board.jpg
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you!
Sean Lemieux

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CeaSaR
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by CeaSaR » Mon Aug 31, 2020 2:03 pm

Here's a few videos in a playlist.
Hey, what do I know?

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haklesup
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by haklesup » Mon Aug 31, 2020 4:13 pm

The Printed Full scale images can be used with the Photolithography methods. This works best with single sided PCB designs but can be used for 2 sided but I wouldn't attempt that without first making some single sided boards.

Usually one obtains some Positive pre sensitized single sided copper clad boards (I found some on Amazon and ebay) and uses the photocopy like a piece of film (the paper is the negative). Usually the paper is wetted with water or oil to make it more transparent. The paper is taped to the board and then exposed to light. After that the board needs to be etched. Several chemistries are possible but Ferric chloride can be shipped and is what you get in most web searches.

At $25 for a few boards and another $25 for the etch, you can get a handful of boards done. If one were to want to do 10 or more designs, I recommend the low cost router (CNC) method which you can get away with for a couple hundred $ minimum and no chemicals or handling in the dark. A single sided PCB can be purchased online for a similar price range from a FAB that specialized in proto work. Importing and converting the artwork for use in a computerized process should not be too difficult using a graphics program. I suggest its more fun to reenter it from scratch in a free PCB editor

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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by gerty » Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:04 am

When I was teaching we made several types of boards using copper clad and etch available here....https://www.jameco.com/shop/StoreCatalo ... =jamecoall

Also had a few students that used a wide "Sharpie" to draw out their circuit on the copper clad board.. The etching solution would dissolve the copper not painted with the sharpie, thus leaving the circuit. We even had the machine shop class make up a template for drilling the mounting holes for an 8 pin dip socket for the microcontrollers we used.. lotsa videos here, none are mine....https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... ds+at+home

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Lenp
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by Lenp » Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:43 pm

1 Photocopy, or laser print the artwork onto overhead projector film unless you already have reverse artwork.
2. If you use the the projector film, it over as needed to get a reverse image on the blue Press N Peel transfer film.
3. You may have to tweak the copier's toner for a dark image, and it might be a just a bit off scale, if that matters much.
4. The circuit board should be a bigger than the PCB pattern to help fix any misalignment problems.
5. Clean the circuit board with something like a Scotch Brite pad, and wash well with alcohol to get rid of any oils or finger prints.
6. Hold the board by it's edges and align the PNP pattern on the board properly, taping one edge to keep it in place
7. If you have a pouch laminator, run the board and film, with the taped edge leading,through using a pouch carrier.
8. Without a laminator, you can iron it on with a clothes iron. Put a few sheets of paper on top of the film to keep it from slipping.
9. The toner on the film will get sticky when hot, and bond to the board. Allow the board to cool, or rinse in cold water.
10 If the board is missing a bit of a trace, choose to do it over, or repair the damage with a Sharpie marker.
11. Acetone will remove the pcb pattern from the board so it can be reused if necessary, but clean it again.
12. Etch in any available etchant, I prefer amonium persulfate since it is less mess.
13. After etching, I leave the PNP pattern on until the drilling is done, then clean it with acetone but you can clean it first if desired

Overhead film is available on online and maybe the big box office stores still carry it (who uses overhead projection any more?).
PNP Blue film comes with an instruction sheet and it is available online, and from several electronic supplier that also supply the
copper board and etchants. Look online, it's there as well as several videos showing the process.

This PNP process is great for a not too complex board prototype, but not for quantities. You can have a board from artwork to drill in an hour,
correct your mistakes and go again without waiting for a board house turnaround and cost. :???:

Good luck!

NOTE: Anyone have a simple method for PTH? (Plated Through Holes).Wire jumpers, are hard to do with high density connectors !
Len

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
"I must be on the way to success since I already have the junk". (Me)

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haklesup
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by haklesup » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:21 am

That method clearly predates accessible computers with CAD, I would have thought it to be early 90s but I found this article from 1997. There are many options to optimize the artwork creation today but the transfer and etch steps are largely similar.

http://techdoc.kvindesland.no/radio/yms ... 455836.pdf

Back then I used rub on PCB footprints (dry transfer), drafting tape and a sharpie on clear film. I still have one sheet left

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CeaSaR
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by CeaSaR » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:45 am

If you check the Playlist I linked above, there are some methods that involve "everyday" chemicals to do the job. Some don't even require heat or an iron/laminator. As long as "you" use a laser printer to make the copies / prints, it should work well.
Hey, what do I know?

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Lenp
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by Lenp » Thu Sep 03, 2020 11:50 am

Sure, live CAD drawings are always better, but the OP has layouts in magazines he wanted to use.
Len

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
"I must be on the way to success since I already have the junk". (Me)

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CeaSaR
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by CeaSaR » Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:19 pm

I do see that. Obviously, a scan would be required, especially for the ones he posted.
Hey, what do I know?

Sean Lemieux
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by Sean Lemieux » Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:54 am

Thank you everyone for all the input! This is exactly what we needed!

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Lenp
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by Lenp » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:58 am

Quick side note:
If you use the overhead transparency film method, and there are unwanted shaded areas in the drawing, they can be removed with a solvent and a cotton swab. Alcohol, Acetone, Lighter fluid all come to mind, but test the solvent first! Any omissions or light areas can be repaired with a Sharpie.
Len

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
"I must be on the way to success since I already have the junk". (Me)

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CeaSaR
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Re: Making PCBs at Home

Post by CeaSaR » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:24 am

You're welcome. Just a note, the playlist I supplied shows methods with commonly available household products and usually paper that you would throw away or recycle. It's really low cost and very easily obtainable. The only thing truly needed would be a laser printer, and you can get a b/w one for under $100, often the ~$60 ones work fine.
Hey, what do I know?

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