Andrew Sarangan @ edn.com:
Why make your own printed circuit boards when you can get them commercially made for low cost? For one, it can take one to four weeks to receive the boards. For prototyping, this can be a major hurdle. Each design iteration will then take a month or more, and a project may need many months to get done. The DIYer can fab the board and assemble everything in one evening. That advantage is really hard to beat.
Besides time, there are other reasons to make your own board. Commercial services charge by board size, not complexity. Larger boards will cost more even if they are completely blank. I once had to make an oversized PCB because the parts had to be spaced far apart. It was a very sparse board, but getting it made from even the cheapest commercial source would have been expensive.
Make high-quality double-sided PCBs – at home - [Link]
by Michael Dunn @ edn.com:
The first batch of test PCBs has arrived from Maker Studio, and overall, I like what I see.
Maker Studio’s basic board fab service supplies 10 PCBs for $9.99, with a basic international shipping cost of around $7. Interestingly, you get to choose shipping from several countries, including China, Singapore, and Sweden! Does this mean there are several fab sites? IIRC, I chose Sweden for my order.
Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Maker Studio - [Link]
by Michael Dunn @ edn.com:
Well, the “Test PCB” project is finally underway. In case you don’t remember my original blog, the idea is to send a PCB design out to a half-dozen or so low-cost PCB prototype shops, then review their service and quality.
I’ve created a 6 × 6cm double-sided design for this project. I would have made it larger, but at least one fab’s prices (I’m looking at you, OSH Park) rise steeply with board size, and I wanted to keep within budget.
Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Step 1, the PCB - [Link]
In this tutorial Dave explains what a PCB spark gap is and how it can be a useful zero cost addition to your PCB layout to help prevent ESD damage.
He shows how to easily design them into your board and calculate the approximate voltage rating.
And of course has some fun applying 5kV to some gaps to show how them at work.
EEVblog #678 – What is a PCB Spark Gap? - [Link]
Introducing PCBWeb Designer, our new desktop schematic capture and layout tool that’s free and easy to use. Create multi-sheet schematics, use the parts toolbar that includes the Digi-Key parts catalog, in a browsable and searchable database. The PCB view is always in sync with your schematic, and includes all the tools you need to create a design with up to 12 layers. Then you can keep your gerber files locally or send them off to one of our manufacturing partners for production from within the tool. Download at www.pcbweb.com
Introducing PCBWeb Designer - [Link]
by mlerman @ instructables.com:
This is the second version of my E260 modification. It uses an ATtiny13 MCU to control the timing of the printer and make it possible to print double sided PCBs at home.
As an electronic hobbyist and inventor I often need to make printed circuit boards (PCBs) in single or small quantities. Usually these are relatively simple circuits, an MCU, some input conditioning circuitry, some output circuitry, and usually they are single sided or perhaps double sided, with just a few vias. And usually I want them right now!
Toner Transfer (TT) has become the method of choice for most hobbyists. A laser printer is used to print an image of the PCB on special “transfer paper” which is then placed on the bare copperclad board and either ironed on or run through a modified laminator to transfer the image to the copper. When the PCB is etched, the toner acts as a resist, preserving the copper below it while the rest of the copper surface is etched away.
Modification of the Lexmark E260 for Direct Laser Printing of Printed Circuit Boards - [Link]
by synthdood @ instructables.com:
I have been an avid electronics DIY guy for many years now, and I have spent a lot of that time struggling to learn how to make my own PCBs. I have tried every technique that I have come across on the internet, from iron-on print outs to dry photosensitive blue sheets. Sometimes I was successful in my efforts to make a passable PCB, but when it was time to reproduce those results, something would go wrong.
After a lot of attempts and frustration, I was determined to find a solution that didn’t result in me sending my files off to a PCB fab house. I use a fab house after I have tested a design on a homemade PCB. I finally found a solution where I can reproduce aesthetically pleasing PCBs by using liquid negative photo-sensitive paint. In this Instructable, I will share with you a technique that I have developed to do this.
DIY PCB using Liquid Photoresist - [Link]
Matt Mets of Blinkinlabs shared a tutorial on making solder paste stencils quickly by hand:
This is a truly quick and dirty method for making solder masks, and is nice because it only requires a few hand tools. It’s great for situations when you want to test a new design or make a single, small run of boards, but don’t want to waste time and money on a professional stencil.
Dirty DIY stencils - [Link]
Create circuit boards in minutes, from home, at the cost of a cup of coffee – Squink prints conductive ink and assembles your circuit.
Building electronics has always been a compromise between cost, flexibility and time. Squink was created to provide all three, anywhere and to everyone.
Squink is another way to look at circuit prototyping. Unleash your creativity, test your ideas on the spot, improve them quickly, and use a range of materials to make your circuits, all while an intuitive software walks you through the different steps.
Squink – the personal electronic circuit factory - [Link]
Making your own PCB boards for DIY electronics projects is not difficult. Doing so as a DIY project is extremely handy and allows almost anyone to custom design one-off, or small batch circuit layouts relatively quickly and cheaply, without the need for the volumes or costs involved in using the services of professional circuit board manufacturers. With care, DIY PCB project results are usually of extremely high quality and are very satisfying. Even more interest can be added to projects when printed circuit boards are combined with CNC cutter designs for shaping of the circuit boards.
There are various different methods for making PCB boards. Each method has various pros and cons, with most considerations being linked to cost, quality of finished product, accuracy required for fine circuits and availability of chemicals and materials.
DIY Etching of Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) - [Link]