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How to etch PCBs with a PCB pen.

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by David Morris, Aug 13, 2003.

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  1. David Morris

    David Morris Guest

    Does anyone know of a way of etching PCBs (from plans printed off a
    computer) using a PCB pen (the kind you get in budget PCB-etch sets).
    I'm having problems lining up the tracks accurately enough to fit things
    like ICs in.

    Thanks in advance

    David Morris
  2. Never thought about this before, but maybe you could use carbon paper under
    the printout (with everything over the pcb), go over it with pencil, and the
    remove the paper and draw over the markings on the PCB with the PCB Pen.
  3. I can only do it by connecting the dots. If I am making my own
    layout, I draw it on .1 inch grid paper, to keep spaces accurate. I
    tape the layout over the clad board, and use an automatic center punch
    (when you push down on it, a tiny internal hammer is spring loaded and
    released to make a little impact at the point) to mark the location of
    each hole. Then I remove the artwork, and put it beside the board,
    and draw the pattern from dot to dot. After the board is etched, I
    drill the holes, which are more accurate, because of the punches, and
    then use a bit of solvent (I think acetone or fingernail polish
    remover works) on a rag to remove the resist, before soldering parts

    I have never attempted to lay out a board with a pen that was intended
    for surface mount parts.
  4. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    In the shop where I used to work, we had those push-punches
    used for general machine-shop work. They were too powerful
    for PCBs; we got much better results from a "sctratch awl"
    (ice pick sorta thing) and a light tap with a selected wooden
    block or stick. (We all had our own favorite heft pieces of wood.)

    My PCB advice is pretty similar to John's. I've put it all
    together at <>, including
    tips about using dental burs in Dremel tools instead of
    drill bits, and adjusting the ferric chloride concentration
    (too *strong* and it slows down etching!).

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Shareware from Interstellar Research
  5. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    ...etching PCBs (from plans printed off a computer)
    Why aren't you using iron-on toner-transfer and
    Press-n-Peel or clay-covered paper
    like everybody else?

    If you don't have a laser printer,
    uou can photocopy the layout for < 10 cents at Kinko's.
  6. My automatic center punch is completely adjustable, allowing the
    impact ot be adjusted all the way to essentially zero. Just turn the
    rear end of the punch to adjust the spring trip compression.
  7. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    too expensive ...$30 in Australia for a sheet
    Cheap alternative with fair results; search for "clay":

    search for "glossy":

    I have used glossy ads that were mailed to me (one side blank)
    --totally free.
    Magazine pages with large blank areas also work well
    --any page will work,
    but inspection is difficult with complex background patterns.
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