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Old 5th November 2003, 05:31 PM   #1
matt_uk is offline matt_uk  United Kingdom
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Default Homemaking PCBs?

What are the current options for homemade PCB boards?

I was intrigued by something I heard about ironing and laser printers but after furhter research this seems to be very difficult and over-the-top compared to a UV light box like we used to have at school as it still requires the acid etching.

Matt
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Old 5th November 2003, 11:37 PM   #2
Rovnan is offline Rovnan  United States
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Default PCBs

I've made a ton of Homebrew PCBoards.

Currently I think the easiet way for DIYers is with a laser printer and special transfer paper. I transfer the board art with an old iron. PRetty Simple.

You can use a board layout program to design the board art. There are a few available for free online. In school I used a version of P-Spice that included board layout, but on my home computer I use a program called "Eagle Layout."

Find lots of info about Transfer paper and other info at:

http://www.techniks.com/
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Old 6th November 2003, 12:23 AM   #3
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Eagle? As in cadsoft eagle? from www.cadsoft.de ??

If it's the one you use, it's a very nice program. Use it at work, and use it at home. The free version is nice, but in my opinion worth the money for the schematic editor.

As for board options, I agree that a UV light source is best. I use an inkjet printer, and transparencies to do my photo work. I bought a blacklight for $20, and set it on some 6 inch spacers above my artwork. Takes about 6 minutes to expose a board. Works fine, and makes a neat party light too!

I've also found a few good board houses. (Check a thread "Boardhouses, who's good". Some are as low as $14 each! (very good deal!)

-Dan
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Old 6th November 2003, 04:53 AM   #4
MWP is offline MWP  Australia
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Quote:
Originally posted by dkemppai
I agree that a UV light source is best. I use an inkjet printer, and transparencies to do my photo work. I bought a blacklight for $20, and set it on some 6 inch spacers above my artwork. Takes about 6 minutes to expose a board. Works fine, and makes a neat party light too!
Yup, same way i do it.
I use presensitsed PCBs, and expose them under a desk fluro lamp for 10mins/side.
Its quite easy to make double sided boards this way. I also can reliably make boards with 8mil tracks this way.
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Old 6th November 2003, 06:05 AM   #5
quekky is offline quekky  Singapore
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Quote:
Originally posted by dkemppai
I've also found a few good board houses. (Check a thread "Boardhouses, who's good". Some are as low as $14 each! (very good deal!)

-Dan
unfortunately, eprotos changed their pricing to $19
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Old 6th November 2003, 11:00 AM   #6
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After struggling with most budget DIY PCB production techniques including iron-on (waste of time) I realised the only way was to spend some money.

I now use a light box made from an aluminium camera case, 4 UV tubes,some angle bracket and a piece of glass. For drilling I use a Minicraft pillar drill (often on ebay) and a tungsten bit. HSS bits are a waste of time because the fibreglass boards blunt them almost immediately. Tungsten bits cost more and last forever but will break if used in a handheld drill.

I use an inkjet printer for producing the transparencies, I make two copies and align one on the other to achieve the density. Boards should be exposed with the ink-side against the board.

Ikea sell some high sided storage boxes with lids that are ideal for developing and etching and are about half the price of etching trays.

The total cost was under 200 and I can now produce consistent boards quickly and with very little waste and no frustration.
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Old 6th November 2003, 12:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by quekky

unfortunately, eprotos changed their pricing to $19
No, they didn't. They still have $19 listed on the webpage, but charge $14 each. Just ordered some last week. Price has been $14 for at least several months.
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Old 6th November 2003, 12:36 PM   #8
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I've had perfectly good results from a big-ish (250W photoflood) bulb, which is probably cheaper than a UV tube. Exposure time is something like 90 seconds, at a distance of 30cm. It requires a bit of experimentation, particularly if you make up the developer solution yourself - too strong and everything washes off.

I found the spray-on photoresist is perfectly OK and much cheaper than ready-made photoresist boards; baking it overnight in the airing cupboard(*) helps to ensure good adhesion.

For the transparencies, to be honest I usually do it with old-fashioned drafting film, drawing pens and transfers - attempts with an old inkjet printer proved insufficiently opaque. Photocopying onto overheap projector transparencies seems to work (if somewhat longwinded).

Cheers
IH

(*) a small cupboard containing the water heater or hot water tank - its main virtues here being dark and warm (~40 deg C).
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Old 6th November 2003, 01:47 PM   #9
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I've only been making pcbs for little while now but I agree that photoexposing them is the best method. One thing I would like to know how to do is to apply the silkscreen layer, I can't find any sufficient information on here or the internet.
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Old 6th November 2003, 01:57 PM   #10
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If anyone needs any custom artwork done, I use Pcad here at work. I'm fairly new at it (I've done a couple boards), but I would like more practice. If anyone needs any design work done, email me. I will do it for free.

Steve
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