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software used to make the laserprinter PCB etch resist images ?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by robb, Sep 21, 2007.

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  1. robb

    robb Guest

    what software is best used to make the images for the DIY laser printer PCB
    resist trick ?

    ie. print image on the laser printer, iron on copper cover board, wash away
    paper, disolve exposed copper, remove the plastic, drill holes .....

    thanks for any help,
  2. It depends on what format your original layout is in.

    The software needs to be able to read the original format and then
    print it in the proper size and orientation.
  3. robb

    robb Guest

    thanks for help,
    i should have been more clear. I do not presently have a format or layout
    yet i was just going to draw some simple traces for simple project to
    experimant with the DIY PCB.

    I tried using the word processor (for about a minute) but that has obvious
    drawbacks with precision, scaling and line creation problems so i thought
    there might be some shareware/freeware PCB drawing or printing software i
    could use to create the PCB mask.

    seems like it would be better if i started with some PCB layout software
    then go from there ?

    Thanks again,
  4. ["Followup-To:" header set to]
    Some people around here, among them me, like Eagle from They
    have a freebie version whose only limitation is the max. PCB size of 80x100
    mm. Assuming you don't want to do homebrew multilayer boards.

    My personal start into the CAD world was some illustration software (I think
    Aldus Freehand) back in 1990, but that was just an extension of my
    previosuly hand-inked layouts. Nowadays nobody uses anything but a schematic
    capture/layout combo, such as the one mentioned above.

  5. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    You need some sort of EDA or CAD program; a pcb-specific layout
    program is probably best and there are plenty of freely-available ones
    to try and see what you like. Freely downloadable ones include Eagle,
    Kicad, and gEDA/pcb (which I use). There are probably others.

    Alternatively, you could use a paint program (gimp, paint, photoshop)
    if you're careful about the DPI of the image, or any drawing or figure
    program (xfig, illustrator, autocad), again - if you're careful about
    the scale.
  6. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    You could use a paint program, albeit it might take a few tries to
    get the scaling right.

    I've got paint shop pro v. 4.12 ...
    Found a download!

    Good Luck!
  7. I am trying to get to grips with a program called ExpressPCB from

    I have not done any pcb work for years and this program
    is free.


    Don't tip it, recycle it. Join your local group. Kingdom
  8. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    More specifically, it is LOCK-IN-WARE.
    It is designed so that it will ONLY be useful
    if you order your boards from THAT vendor.

    It does NOT produce Gerbers,
    and to make it print out something you can use yourself,
    you have to jump thru hoops.

    To the OP:
    As DJ has suggested, look at Kicad. It has a Windoze port.

    As you use Outbreaks in Excess as a newsreader,
    I'm thinking you are not into learning much about software
    so gEDA on Windoze would too much effort for you.

    EAGLE is now DRM'd--more potential hoop-jumping:
    **The Downside of EAGLE** by Markus Zingg*-*-*-projects-could-no-longer-be-opened
    ....not to mention its non-intuitive interface.

    You might also consider TinyCAD.

    There are *lots* of ECAD programs available:
    If you are ever going to produce a *second* PCB layout,
    just AVOID paint programs and move on to the real deal.
  9. budgie

    budgie Guest

    At that level, I'd seriously suggest Protel AutoTrax which is freeware.

    also see
  10. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    Software WILL NOT solve the paper path problem; that path *MUST* be
    perfectly straight to allow the passage of a PCB.
    Also, the printer must allow for rather thick paper ("pasteboard"
    comes to mind).
    Damn few printer models had straight paths; you may have to do some
    difficult reseach and get a used printer.
  11. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    Huh? The laser printer trick does not pass the PCB through the
    printer; you're thinking of the inkjet resist trick. Toner won't even
    stick to PCB material very well when run through the printer directly
    (yes, it's been tried) - the combination of electrically conductive
    copper and high thermal mass of the backing messes up the toner/fuser
    process. You really do have to iron it on separately, off a carrier
    sheet, to get enough heat and control.

    All the inkjet conversions I've read about require mechanical changes
    to the printer to provide a suitable path for the PCB, usually
    including making a carrier sled.
  12. It may not produce Gerbers, I have not looked at that, but it prints out to
    drafting film on my inkjet printer and to the correct size.

    Don't tip it, recycle it. Join your local group. Kingdom
  13. robb

    robb Guest

    i read on the various sites about amking copper disolve with a
    1:1:1 mix of muriatic:peroxide:water ? is that true or make a
    good etchant ? and surely they are not refering to the 5%
    peroxide found in the local drug/food stores ? if not then what
    % peroxide content would one want to use ?

    thanks again, rob
  14. Mike

    Mike Guest

    I would have to agree with budgie on his reccomendation for using Protel Autotrax.
    I have tried every freebie layout program that I could find and Protel is by far the easiest to use. I bought
    Easytrax (an earlier version of Autotrax) back in the old days for $450 and still use it today, but it does
    require that your computer be able to run DOS programs. I use an old HP Laserjet III that got donated to
    Goodwill and get excellent results. I guess that I'm too dumb, but I have never been able to get the gerber
    output to work although the program works very well for printing my boards.


    When truth is absent politics will fill the gap.
  15. Copper will dissolve just fine in the muriatic/peroxide/water 1:1:1
    drugstore strength ratio you describe. Depending on how much copper and how
    much solution you have, the resultant solution AFTER dissolving the copper
    will be either a bright transparent emerald green or a murky opaque

    The bright green solution can be used to dissolve more copper until the
    solution turns murky and opaque. At that point, bubbling air (think
    aquarium pump with plastic bubbler) through the murky solution will
    eventually return the solution to bright transparent green again, at which
    time you can dissolve more copper and around and around you go.

    A little agitation or bubbling during the etch process helps things along
    tremendously, as does a SLIGHT heating of the solution (think aquarium glass
    heater). Use a glass or plastic container (think aquarium) to do the

  16. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    I really don't think he was referring to feeding the CLAD directly
    into the printer!.. A simply use of good thick paper or ink jet photo
    on the glossy side works well after you printer it using the laser
    printer. Then, iron it on! :)
  17. robb

    robb Guest

    Thanks Jeff,
    for help and taking the time to lay it out.
    now don't read too much into using OE... it is there, simple,
    usually works and life leaves little time for hobbies. i have
    had my time and interest with various flavors of OS and sftwr
    {A/UX, VMS, AIX, SunOS - Solaris (4-10) ,HP/ux, Ultrix,
    linux{Redhat,SUSE}}bla bla and i even had a linux port on my
    PocketPC :)
    but that was an other day
    thanks again for info i might even try that gEDA,
  18. robb

    robb Guest

  19. robb

    robb Guest

    Thanks for reply,
    I am looking into all these suggestions...
  20. robb

    robb Guest

    yes, i saw that, DOS.

    I think i threw the last DOS bootable floppy out ages ago.
    oh well i hope the Dr DOS or some other downloadable form works.
    might have to break out one of my old PC boxes to test those DOS
    versions out.

    thanks for help,

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