Hardware

Homemade PCB Tutorial

Posted 30 Jul 2008 at 16:00 UTC by steve Share This

uC Hobby has posted a tutorial on creating homebrew PC boards. This is something every robot builder will do at one time or another, so it's always interesting to see the methods different hobbyists use and recommend. This tutorial uses a laser printer to put the PCB design onto a transparent sheet. UV light is used to transfer the design onto the copper board and then ferric chloride is used to etch the pattern. Of course, these days, if you're doing multiple boards, it's probably cheaper to send them off to a low volume PCB company.

Do it for the experience only, posted 30 Jul 2008 at 17:30 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I'd say for the learning experience, it's a nice thing to do. Other than that, go with a pcb manufacturer.

When I made them on my own I sort of did it scientifically where I made my own light box and tested with different exposures and different acid etching techniques and even did several layers of transparencies to get the blackest lines. I learned what worked the best. I posted my results but I doubt anyone really cared or used my results. I made so-so boards good enough for me. I broke lots of tiny drill bits. I wasted lots of boards in the process of trial and error. I blew lots of money. I learned a lot, though!!!

For the same money and much less time, I could have had lots of PCBs from a manufacturer. But I wouldn't have learned all I learned. I'm a self-educated human being! (It could be argued that you can only be self-educated. True you can be taught, but only you can learn for yourself and be educated. Things can't be learned for you.) Now that I've learned the process and gone about as far as I care to go with it, I'll use a PCB manufacturer from now on.

To me it's a great discipline/exercise to learn but it's not really worth it for anything real or with any quality. It's good to learn it for yourself. You really can't beat the cost or quality from a manufacturer. So do it for the experience only.

Glossy Magazines, posted 31 Jul 2008 at 07:47 UTC by JamesBruton » (Master)

Here's another article that also came up recently with a slightly different method involving glossy magazines and an iron:

http://www.hackaday.com/2008/07/28/how-to-etch-a-single-sided- pcb/

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