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]
Ben is always looking for new tools and processes to help with all the projects he builds. He’s got a CNC mill, laser cutter, and a 3-D printer, but hasn’t found a way to whip up a PCB at his shop. He’s hand wired many circuits, but this can be tedious. He’s designed PCBs in Eagle and sent them off for production at a board house, but this doesn’t help when he wants a PCB the same day. In this episode, Ben experiments with three methods of PCB etching and shares the results.
Let’s Try PCB Etching! - [Link]
Etching is the process of eating away a pattern on a target material by using an etchant liquid that attacks the target material.
The most common target materials are copper and brass. The most common etchant liquids are ferric chloride, ammonium persulphate and cupric chloride
On a hobby scale it is common to submerge the target into a container filled with the etchant. This can be very slow and is often sped up by either mechanical agitation or using an aquarium / fish-tank bubbler. Even with the speed up from sloshing the container around this process can take 10-15 minutes for a PCB or over an hour for a thick brass plate.
The spray etching method uses the same etchant liquid as the submersion method, but instead sprays the liquid onto the target. This can speed up the process by an order of magnitude.
The Etchinator – low cost spray etcher - [Link]
Manufacture pcb using vinyl sticker and laser printer. Faster, easier and cheaper then ever.
Manufacture PCB using Vinyl Sticker and Laser Printer - [Link]
How would you like to make a single or multiple Printed Circuit Boards in less than 2 minutes?
crreed @ instructables.com writes:
This project has been in my mind for quite some time and I thought it would be a good time to finally build it. The idea began when I was tired of spending 25 minutes sloshing a Printed Circuit Board (PCB from now on) around in a plastic tray and waiting for it to finish etching. It was messy and wasted a lot of time. I began to search for an alternative and did not get much farther than a bucket with a fish tank bubble machine and perhaps a heater. Sprayers seemed like the most practical solution but the commercial available ones cost thousands of dollars and there was no guide that allowed someone to create one to use in their own shop. That is, until now.
Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Sprayer Machine - [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]
Simple and cheap, with quick results.
DIY PCB etching container with bubbles – [Link]
I’ve been etching my own prototype boards for many years in a glass tray, using a griddle to heat the solution. The large horizontal area of the solution resulted in lots of fumes that were hard to avoid breathing. The boards etched unevenly (due to hotspots of the griddle) and required a lot of hand agitation (and breathing the awful acid fumes).
Vertical Etching Tank for DIY PCB etching – [Link]
Vinegar – Distilled White Vinegar – diluted with water to 5% acidity (Meijer)
Peroxide – 3% solution (Meijer)
Salt – to taste. (Just keep adding it until the “fizzing” continues all by itself).
Hydrogen peroxide is what we call an oxidizing agent (a mild one), meaning that it easily accepts electrons from other species to form H2O (hydrogen peroxide itself is electron deficient). What happens when it “dissolves” copper metal is that a neutral copper metal atom releases two electrons, to form a Cu2+ ion in solution. All metals tend to release electrons to form positively charged species….we refer to anything that DONATES electrons as a reducing agents. The strength of metals as reducing agents varies and copper is a fairly weak reducing agent.
Hydrogen Peroxide, Distilled White Vinegar and Salt as a PCB Etching Solution – [Link]
Like making circuit boards, but don’t like all of the toxic chemicals that you have to use to do it? You might want to take a look at Stephen Hobley’s directions, then. He’s claiming to be able to etch boards using only diluted hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and a bit of table salt. [via]
Etch circuit boards with common household chemicals – [Link]