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What's easier/better ? Etch resist pen or dry transfers?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by royalmp2001, Feb 8, 2005.

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  1. royalmp2001

    royalmp2001 Guest

    I need to make a small number of 2" square pcbs, each having a 8pin dip
    ic and half a dozen small caps and 1/4W resistors. I am a beginner at

    What is better. I purchased the transfers from radio shack, and while
    I am awaiting delivery of the components, I am wondering if I should
    get a pen to try out too.

    What are your opinions.

    If I stick to the pen will I need a 1/32" or 1/64" tip?

  2. Guest

    When I do a board using normal .01 spacing I draw out the whole board
    on a piece of grid paper then tape the grid paper to my board and then
    use a pin to mark out all the hole locations...this also aids in
    keeping everything straight. I then take a small sharpie and mark all
    hole locations...then I draw all the straight lines with a sharpie and
    a beveled straightedge. After using the pen to do the board lines and
    pads I occasionally will use dry transfers over the ic locations and
    wherever I want a neat looking round pad. I normally dont drill out the
    holes till the board is layed out and after drilling I will go back and
    hit the holes with the sharpie again...just because.

    Electronix Express has a template that you can use to lay out a board
    with a pen. It has templates for ic pads, transistors, different sizes
    of resistors capacitors etc....but like I say...I use this template to
    mark it all out on grid paper... <<< electronix express web site

    the template I use is part no. 03TPEDT.......5.50.....

    my way isnt the best but it works for me and the occasional board I
    turn out.

    I also do surface mount using a pen and dry transfers....and a
    magnifying lamp.

    For your boards either tip pen would work but I'd probably go with the
    1/32 possibly a tad bigger if you dont want real fine might
    make it easier... you can buy those double ended sharpie markets at wal
    mart/k mart etc..... go to an art store and look for stadtler drawing
    pens...they make nice lines in many sizes though the "resist" is
    somewhat harder to remove than an ordinary lacquer based sharpie.
  3. royalmp2001

    royalmp2001 Guest

    Wow, so I don't have to order a special etch resist pen from some
    supplier and pay $7 shipping, but instead get a sharpie from a local
    store....thanks for the tip !!!
    I always thought these pcb pens has some special resistant chemical in
    them, and that nothing else would do....thanks for enlightening me..!!!
  4. Tom Biasi

    Tom Biasi Guest

    Sharpies work just fine. Check out PNP Blue. You can print to them on a
    lasar printer and iron on to a board. (circuit board not ironing board :))
    I'll send you some if you would like to try it. No, I am not selling them, I
    am a teacher who just likes to help students learn.
  5. royalmp2001

    royalmp2001 Guest

    Thanks for the offer, Tom, but I think the Sharpie is the way to go (I
    only have an inkjet printer).
  6. Anything that doesn't wash away in the etchant works as resist. Right
    from the beginning of hobbyists making their own boards, people have used all
    kinds of things. SOme are better than others, for the simple reason than
    that they can be easily removed after the etching.

    One problem with pens is that they often don't give a solid line. I remember
    the horrible results I got the first time I made a board, when I didn't
    realize this. But this has to do with either the person's skill at drawing
    the traces, or the particular pen. Some don't issue a good flow of ink.

    One article in "Ham Radio" magazine years ago suggested opening the pen
    up, and adding a drop or two of rubbing alcohol. This ensures the ink
    does flow better. I've tried it, and it does work, indeed I've done it to
    pens I simply use on paper.

    I don't know about now, but it used to be that the resist pens I saw were
    Sharpies, either relabelled or labelled at the factory for the new task.
    YOu can also get Shrpies with a far narrower tip, useful for very thin
    lines on circuit

  7. Alan Adrian

    Alan Adrian Guest

    Since you don't have a lazer printer, this won't work for you, but I print
    onto quality inkjet paper with my lazer printer, then iron it onto the
    board, like the special paper, but cheaper... After it cools, hot water and
    soap melts the paper off, leaving toner and clay (from the quality inkjet
    paper good side) to stop the etch. You can us a photocopier to do this, just
    set it dark enough to get a nice thick toner layer. Much easier than
    drawing each of them out, and makes for a more pro look.

  8. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    A full description of the hand-drawn Sharpie method,
    including lots of hints and tips, is on my site at

    Hope this helps!

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
  9. royalmp2001

    royalmp2001 Guest

    Thank you so much for sharing the link for your site. It is just
  10. paologatto

    paologatto Guest

    I made several experiments with different kind of papers and the "iron
    method" and had the best results using glossy photo paper (printed with
    a laser obviously). This kind of paper detaches perfectly after the
    iron has passed and the board is cold.

    Another suggestion: if the laser doesn't make sufficiently black prints
    (and there are no settings in the printer), I simply print 2 times on
    the same paper, checking that the 2 prints are exactly overlapped.

    With some practice the results are really good..
    Here is what I obtained with glossy paper:

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