Derek Wolfe writes:
There are a lot of hobbyists that want to design and build their own custom printed circuit boards (PCB’s). It will save you money if you’re making a lot of different board designs on a small scale. If you need to make 50 copies of something or don’t want to spend the time to make your pcb’s just order them from a professional pcb manufacturer. This procedure is for people who want to get their hands dirty and learn how to make their own circuit boards for lower cost, faster turnaround, or the simple satisfaction of it.
My method of fabricating pcb’s is based on the numerous tutorials and websites that describe the familiar ‘Toner Transfer’ process. After practicing a few years I’ve combined parts of each tutorial with some tricks I’ve learned to make this fabrication procedure. This method is useful for making single boards or panelized board designs. I prefer toner transfer vs. a photolithography based method because the copper clad boards are very inexpensive when purchased in bulk and there is no light sensitive photoresist to worry about. Photolithography is capable of better resolution and smaller feature sizes than toner transfer but it’s only a limitation for extremely small features (i.e. <0.005″ wires).
PCB Fabrication Procedure using Toner Transfer - [Link]
Over at Blondihacks, Quinn’s written up a really thorough post about etching your own PCBs, building on what she discussed in past documentation. There are a lot of tutorials out there about etching PCBs, but this is probably one of the most complete I’ve seen, particularly if you’re still getting to know Eagle.
PCB Layout and Etching Tips and Tricks - [Link]
In the last few years many inexpensive PCB services have popped up. It used to be that buying PCBs in hobby quantities was expensive and filled with gotchas.
Now, places like Seeed Studio can send your PCBs to the inexpensive prototyping factory in Shenzhen China, and ship them anywhere in the world at great prices. You get two-sided PCBs, with the works, starting at $1 per 5x5cm PCB. Turnaround is a few days, worldwide shipping starts at $3. It’s a happy day for electronics hobbyists.
Other services like DorkBotPDX and BatchPCB pool multiple orders so the group benefits from bulk pricing. Enough people are using these services that turnaround is quite fast. DorkBotPDX offers signature purple PCBs that have become quite popular.
HOW-TO: Get your PCBs manufactured - [Link]
I just finished writing up some of the details on DIY plated through holes. This is what the simple constant current source was designed for. This process was slightly adapted from Think and Tinker – a really great site for DIY PCB fab. The overall process is:
- Drill holes in the PCB
- Coat the holes with a mixture of water-proof ink and finely powdered graphite
- Cure the ink so it doesn’t rub off
- Dunk the PCB in the electroplating tank, apply current, and let chemistry do the rest of the work.
Electrochemically plated vias for homemade PCBs - [Link]
Retromaster has honed his PCB making skills to get professional quality boards at home. He’s successfully made double sided PCBs with 8 mil trace width, with 6 mil clearance. In his guide he describes how to etch the PCB with toner transfer, how to use mechanical vias, and hot to apply soldermask paint.
DIY double sided PCB with soldermask - [Link]
The PIC IC and RESET button are placed on the top side of the board. The voltage regulator, quartz crystal, and all the decoupling capacitors are on the bottom.
It was designed for the dsPIC33FJ256MC710 with digital signal controller peripherals, but it will work with most PICs in the same package. Schematic and PCB files are provided if you want to build your own.
Another Microchip TQFP 100 breakout board - [Link]
Luca wrote a step-by-step guide to Seeed Studio’s Fusion PCB service. It covers how to export files from Eagle and get your PCB built. It’s available both in English and Italian.
We like Fusion PCB service, it’s cheap and pretty fast. It starts at $10 for 10 PCBs ($1 per board), plus a few bucks of shipping. We’re biased though, so take our recommendation with a grain of salt.
A guide to Seeed Studio’s Fusion PCB service - [Link]
We bring you a favourite protective lacquer for PCBs in a convenient 1l bulk package. If you used this agent so far in a form of sprays, in a bigger amount, or you need to treat devices by dipping, then this package is intended just for you.
Plastik 70 is a transparent protective and insulating coating, protecting PCBs and components from humidity, leakages and also eliminates vibrations of small components. In case of necessity, for example at repair, it is solderable and also can be removed with the Plastik 70 thinner. It is not aggressive and is well compatible to most of material used in electronics, only in the case of some very sensitive plastics, it is suitable to test their sensitivity before application.
Advantages / Features:
- protective transparent coating
- high coverage – up to 9m2/liter/20μm
- protects from humidity and leakage currents
- protects from atmospheric influences
- removable by a thinner
- universal usage on various surfaces
Plastik 70 in a 1l package can be applied by a brush, dipping and after diluting also by spraying. Plastik 70 has a relatively low viscosity and a good penetration ability, that´s why it is an ideal solution for application by dipping of PCBs or single components like transformers and coils. Inspite of the fact, that the price per 1 liter of the product at sprays is similar to the price of 1l bulk package, this 1l package is more than 50% cheaper. It is caused by almost 2,5x higher yield (lower thinner content). Lower thinner content further improves working conditions in a workshop and decreases air pollution. PLASTIK 70 can also be used as a universal protective coating on surfaces like metal, paper, paintings, furniture, etc.
With the 1 liter package of Plastik 70 you can protect your PCBs 50% cheaper - [Link]
EagleUp is a new way to render Eagle PCBs in 3D. It integrates with Google Sketchup so it’s possible to design cases around the PCB model:
version 4 has been released. Most of the import and export procedures have been automatized to simplify the process, so that you can focus in design, and not in the conversion 2D/3D.
With the version 4, you export from Eagle in 2 clicks, and import into sketchup in 3 clicks. No more tiring image creation and manual import necessary. Give it a try !
EagleUP brings PCBs to Google Sketchup - [Link]