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Home made PCB

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by Dan Messenger, May 9, 2005.

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  1. Hi,
    I've been making electronic circuits for a while, mostly using Vero
    Board / Strip Board for final construction. I really wanna move on
    and start making my own PCBs.
    How expensive is the equipment for this? My boards will probably be
    no bigger than a few inches square.
    What is the cheapest way to get me started in this? Can anybody
    recommend any UK suppliers of equipment? What equipment do I need?
  2. Guest

    It depends on the line density of the circuit board that you want to

    Small quantities of single-sided, low density circuit boards can be
    produced for an investment as little as $20-30 (spray can of photo
    resist, some ferric chloride etchant, and an improvised buble etcher).
    Double sided PCBs without through-hole plating are not much harder or
    costlier to produce, but if you want plated through holes, add another
    $1,000 to the above figure.

    If you wnat to do medium density PCB that have medium width tracings
    connecting 16-pin DIP packages, estimate $1,000. (Everything becomes
    more precise.)

    For high-density PCBs involving SMDs, figure on $20,000 as a minimum.
    (Mostly due to far more costly imaging technology).

    Harry C. (Who was in the PCB business for 5 years.)
  3. Hi Harry, Thanks for the reply.
    The circuits I make are typical hobbiest circuits. All will probably
    be one/two-off and definately single sided.
    However, I do use DIP packaged chips (PICs / 555s / Driver chips etc)
    Is the accuracy required for these possible on the lower budget? ;-)

    Also, have you got any weblinks for the equipment/chemicals you have
    described? (particularly the bubble etcher, I understand these are
    expensive to buy?)

    Thanks in advance

    09/05/2005 00:32:30
    wrote in message
  4. DaveM

    DaveM Guest

    Take a look at the Pulsar web site at They sell just
    about everything you need for making single and double-sided PCBs on a
    budget. Their technology uses a toner transfer method that works very well
    if you use their equipment. If you have a laser printer (who doesn't
    nowadays), you can print the artwork on special transfer paper, then affix
    the paper with the printed circuit pattern to a blank board, and run it
    through the refuser, which melts the toner on the paper onto the PCB
    surface. You then soak the board and paper in water to dissolve the bond
    between teh toner and paper, leaving the toner fused to the PCB, ready for
    etching. See the refuser at

    They can supply some software that will get you going to design the artwork
    also. They stock a variety of eyelets and tooling that will allow you to
    build double-sided boards without the expense of doing it chemically.
    Beware... the eyelets can become expensive if your boards have a lot of
    through-holes and vias that need to be interconnected. The paper is a bit
    expensive too, but very good results can be achieved by using premium
    photo-quality paper instead of the paper that Pulsar sells. The photo paper
    has a high content of clay, which makes it suitable for this purpose. Be
    sure to get paper that can be used with laser printers and copiers... The
    inkjet-only variety may give you trouble.

    Dave M
    MasonDG44 at comcast dot net (Just subsitute the appropriate characters in
    the address)

    Never take a laxative and a sleeping pill at the same time!!
  5. Don't worry about accuracy for DIP packages: I use the toner transfer method
    to do double sided surface mount (0.8mm pitch) and it is pretty reliable
    after a bit of practice. I haven't got enough time for a highly detailed
    description, but my basic method is:
    1. Design circuit (eagle)
    2. Print onto low quality coated inkjet paper with a laser printer (so it
    doesn't stick too hard)
    3. Iron onto PCB. Clean the pcb thoroughly first and roughen surface with
    fine sandpaper.
    4. If doing double sided, wet the paper slightly so it becomes a bit
    transparent, then poke the centre of the holes with a scriber and drill.
    5. Align other side with the drilled holes and iron
    6. Soak the board in WARM/HOT water (about 60 degrees C). This seems to stop
    cracks forming in the toner.
    7. gently remove the paper when it has soaked "enough" (experiment).
    8. etch it. I use hot ammonium persulfate in a plastic dish and rock it back
    and forth till its done, turning it over after a while if double sided.
    Putting the etching dish into another dish filled with hot water keeps it
    hot for longer.
    9. ???
    10. profit!

    Hope that helps,
    Daniel Watman
  6. For information on this field take a look at
    This depends on the process you plan to use, how good equipment
    you want etc..

    Tou can start making simple circuit boards with tools
    that cost less than 100 Euros. But using those you can't
    get best quality, there is lots of hand work and slow process..

    For best quality you need much more expensive tools.
    I do not have a recommendation for cheap UK supply.
    You can get all the needed thigns from RS Components but this is not
    a cheap place to buy many things. But they have
    a very good selection of all kinds of electronics items.

    For ideas what tools you need read article links on circuit
    board making at

    Tools for normal "photocopy" method are the following:

    - photo sensitive circuit board material
    - suitable UV light source for transfering image from "film" to
    the cirucit board
    - suitable development solution (typically NaOH) and suitable
    thigns where you can do the development and store chemicals
    - suitable etchant (Ferricloride, etc..) and suitable container
    where you ca do the etching
    - small drill with sutiable bits to drill tho holes to circuit board
    (a suitable drill holder is a good idea to have)

    Those are the basic tools.
    And the "film" can be for example a cirucit board layout on
    maghazine page, circuit board image printed to paper,
    printed/photocopied to transparency film etc..
  7. I really wanna move on and start making my own PCBs.

    Your biggest problem will be the environmental police and general ignorance. Be careful.
  8. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    I've been making electronic circuits...using Vero Board
    Read some of these threads:
    They all refer to Mike Harrison's PCB page--a must-read.

    Toner transfer has the lowest entry barrier.

    The blue stuff is easiest.
    Glossy (clay-coated) paper is cheapest;
    I have used ads with 1 blank side that I got in the mail.
    Tom Gootee's PCB page is also a must-read.

    Most folks use Ferric Chloride for etchant (easy to get).
    Others use

    Occcasional hand agitation of a double-boiler
    made with pyrex cooking dishes will work for etching.
    When you get deadly serious, there's

    Cadsoft EAGLE Light if you have Windoze (freeware to hobbyists).
    gEDA if you have Linux (GPL).
  10. -----------------------
    Hobby, Hobbier, Hobbiest, cute.

    No, you're a Hobbyist.

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