A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
Mike
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A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Fri Jan 09, 2004 4:56 am

A while ago when I asked about choosing a Laser printer for PCBs I also asked about using photo paper for the transfer material. <p>I first want to say that with my printer, this doesn't exactly work. My printer is a Minolta PagePro 1250W. I printed at 1200x1200dpi to get the most toner on the board, so it went through slower. The paper came out and it looked like it was smeared in parts. The top 1/3 of the page was fine, but the rest wasn't. Some of the toner got on the roller and ended up about 3 inches under where it belongs. I think that since it went through so slow, something went wrong with heat or something. It does work, however, with an HP b&w laser printer,at least the one i tried. No damage was done to mine when i did it, though.<p>Anyway, how you do it:<p>1. Purchase a couple of sheets of the photo paper kinkos uses on their printers (do NOT use inkjet paper).<p>2. Print the mirrored design onto the paper.<p>3. Boil some water.<p>4. Iron it onto the board with the iron on high heat for 3 minutes.<p>5. Drop it into the water right away (use pliers, its hot)<p>6. Wait about 45 minutes, then remove it.<p>7. Carefully peel the paper off. <p>8. There will still be some paper between the traces, so you will need to rub it off carefully with your thumb.<p>9. Etch<p>Hopefully this method will help reduce the cost of pcb prototypes.<p>I put the design on the board and today I will etch it. I will let everybody know how it comes out.<p>Good luck everybody.<p>-Mike

L. Daniel Rosa
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by L. Daniel Rosa » Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:19 am

Your paper removal may go a bit faster with a little detergent in the water. Even so, it's best to soak the work until the paper almost peels itself off the board.

Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:42 pm

OK, I'll try that.<p>Thanks!<p>-Mike

gust334
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by gust334 » Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:49 pm

Let me see if I understand this correctly: you're trying to use photo paper so that the plastic toner particles will not fuse with the paper (regular laser printouts melt the plastic toner into the paper with a combination of heat and pressure.)<p>If that's the case, wouldn't unplugging the power supply to the heating element in the fuser in your laser printer permit you to print on regular paper, and then you could use an iron to transfer the mirrored design to your copper-plated PCB?<p>The only difficulty I would see is that the loose toner may smear, so it might take some experimentation to work out how to handle the output page without leaving toner in the printer or on your hands.<p>Just an idea...

Dean Huster
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Dean Huster » Sat Jan 10, 2004 2:29 pm

Unplugging the fuser would probably result in all sorts of problems. First of all, we're talking about screwing around with a new printer -- not a really good idea. Second, the printer would problably come back with a "cold fuser" error and not allow you to print. Third, a cold fuser means that loose toner is passing between the fusion roller and the rubber pinch roller -- and it'll go everywhere except stay on the paper. The whole point of fusing is to make the toner stay on the paper. The only reason that it's sticking up to the point of entering the fuser is the recently-developed miracle of static electricity.<p>Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

gust334
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by gust334 » Sat Jan 10, 2004 5:13 pm

Dean, thanks for the voice of experience.<p>My suggestion was also based on experience I recently had to replace part of the fuser on my HP3330 (same printer mechanism as the HP1200). This was naturally about one week after the "warranty fuse" blew.<p>I discovered during disassembly that I could leave the upper part of the fuser paperguide off, thereupon the page should eject out the back of the printer though the jam cleanout door without being bent around forward to go through the rest of the mechanism. The only part in contact with the toner (front side of page) after the imager is the fuser sleeve, which is a film cylinder designed so that toner doesn't stick to it. To further prevent molestation of the toner, the mechanism has two spring-loaded tension releases for the fuser clamp that allow the paper to slide through without resistance.<p>In my experience, unfixed toner tends to stay on an imaged page reasonably well, as long as it isn't directly rubbed, hence the careful handling requirement.<p>I thought the sensor for the fuser temperature could be bypassed to force the printer to start paper moving, but I have not tried that experiment so maybe it is harder than it seems.<p>Thanks for your advice. :)

Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Sat Jan 10, 2004 8:15 pm

First, dean is right. I don't want to mess with a printer i got less than 2 weeks ago. If it were a piece of junk i got for 5 bucks at a garage sale, id think about it.<p>As they don't really sell laser photo paper, i really just use the heavy paper with a gloss on one side that kinkos uses in their machines. they called it something like 10 point glossy cardstock.<p>A problem I noticed with this paper and my printer is the toner will stick to the roller and appear lower on the paper, instead of where it belongs. What could cause this? I did notice after clicking button after button in the printer setup page, there was a paper type dropdown that was set to plain paper. There was also an option for thick paper. is that what I need to click.<p>About the project I made, it worked great. I was able to etch and drill it and it was perfect. I built the headphone amp i was building on it and it worked too. It works great, especially for the cost i put into it (12.5 cents a sheet; much less than that overpriced pnp stuff ($2.50 per sheet :eek: )<p>Thanks!<p>Mike

myszka_us2000
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by myszka_us2000 » Wed Jan 14, 2004 3:41 pm

I hear you can use glossy magazine pages with the same results, but I never tried it. <p>John M...
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Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:29 pm

I called Minolta and they were able to figure it out. I have to go into the printer setup page, and change the paper type to "thick paper." He said that that makes the rollers move further apart, and therefore not pinch the paper as much. I tried printing, and it worked great.<p>
If I haven't said this yet, the boards designed are great. The two headphone amps I built for people worked great.<p>-Mike

cato
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by cato » Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:13 am

How do you dispose of used etching chemicals?

Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Fri Jan 16, 2004 4:37 am

I know I was told not to dump it down the drain, so I didn't. What I plan to do is collect it in a milk jug and then bring it to one of our town's toxic waste disposal days.<p>Hopefully they'll take it.<p>-Mike

Bernius1
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Bernius1 » Fri Jan 23, 2004 8:30 am

MIKE, Did you try it with pre-heating the PCB with the iron, & then affixing pattern?
Can't we end all posts with a comical quip?

Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:53 pm

no_vice,<p>what will that do?<p>Tonight, I tried another board. I used the detergent in the water. Its soaking right now, so I'll report how it comes out tomarrow morning.<p>What will pre-heating the board do?<p>Also, If i didn't say this already, I was able to get it to print fine by telling the printer it was thick paper. the option was hidden.<p>
-Mike

Mike
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Re: A great new, easy and cheap PCB design

Post by Mike » Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:14 pm

I got it out of the water, and had a VERY hard time peeling off the paper.<p>Most stayed on.<p>Do I need to get it all off, or will the paper over the toner and in between traces be eaten off by the etchant?<p>I also noticed that the toner rubbed off easy in some places, so I had to fill them in with a sharpie.<p>Do I need to get all paper off?


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