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Old 25th April 2008, 04:40 AM   #1
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Default Etching my own PCB's a couple questions.

I want to etch some PCB's for an amp and I was looking online a bit and they have etching kits that include a pump tank and what not. My question do you really need all that? What exactly do I need to etch the PCB? And whats the best kind of acid to use?
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Old 25th April 2008, 04:57 AM   #2
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PCB making: Toner transfer method

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Old 25th April 2008, 05:08 AM   #3
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A google search for PCB fabricators will bring up several fab houses that will make your boards look like the real thing for a very reasonable price. $50-100 for fast turn small lots if I remember correctly.

Weight that against having to deal (and dispose responsibly) of all the developers and etchants - all really nasty stuff - and it's not worth it in my books.

I've used PCBexpress in the past and they did a really professional job, silkscreen and all.

My 2cents
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Old 25th April 2008, 05:33 AM   #4
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Yeah I suppose... Didn't really think about how to dispose of the chemicals when I'm done.
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Old 25th April 2008, 05:35 AM   #5
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I also wanted to make a PCB for the PSU so that would end up being 100 bucks as I'm sure they won't let me do 2 different boards in that 3 board prototype package.
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Old 25th April 2008, 08:01 AM   #6
Nordic is offline Nordic  South Africa
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You don't need all that stuff...

I use an icecream tub, and just swirl the liquid around until the etching is done... (5 to 10 minutes) afterwards I put the tub somehwere high and out of reach... the water evaporates and leaves crystals... when I want to use it again, I just add some boiling water and stir the sludge up again...

I think it is rather critical to be able to do some home prototypeing before hitting the factory.... very usefull in spotting errors... And I say that even haveing access to cheaper fabrication (due to labour cost) facilities..
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Old 25th April 2008, 01:41 PM   #7
Mooly is offline Mooly  United Kingdom
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Hi Douggie, I have been making boards for years, it's easy. Are you going to draw by hand/transfers or use a CAD program ?

Edit, you ask what is the best kind of acid. You want anhydrous ferric cholride crystals, mix according to the instructions. Store the mix in an old plastic bottle. I read Nordics post, I have visions of him boiling it up on the cooker . I tend to use just enough for the job in hand and always use fresh mix, you don't need much by the way. I use a tub like Nordic and float it in a sink with a bit of hot water in, you want the mix warm not to hot, agitate gently all the time, should take about 10 mins.
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Old 25th April 2008, 01:48 PM   #8
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Use acid in made a pcb only give you small benefit comparing use a fericlorid and other thing you must understand acid is very bad very carefull with it, the best use fericlorid and use it in warm temperatur 50 to 60 centigrade and use as much as you need if posible use just for one time. no heater just place the liquid under sun..........we have plenty of sun here in Indonesia.
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Old 25th April 2008, 02:09 PM   #9
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Well someone posted a PCB drawing that I'd probably use. Maybe it would be best to just order them though as then I Could have double sided pretty easily. I'd probably get the PCB printed on the clear paper stuff and iron it onto the copper clad board if I did make my own.
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Old 25th April 2008, 02:23 PM   #10
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I etch a board every month or two and have found that I like the method on Tom Gootee's page:

For toner-transfer, I've tried magazine paper, photo paper, and transparencies. All of them work, and can be bought locally, but I ended buying some press-n-peel blue and have not looked back. Press-n-peel works great and I highly recommend it. You will always have to go back with a paint pen (better) or a sharpie (passable) and touch up your traces, even with press-n-peel.

For etchant I use the 2 part hydrogen peroxide ($0.77 at wal-mart, 1 part muriatic acid ($4.99/gal) at the local hardware store. It's not the fastest I've used (faster if warmer), but it is inexpensive and available. I try to use a little as possible to get the job done, and I dilute it with a gallon or so of water before disposing of it in the toilet.

It isn't hard at all, but you are going to spend about 20 or 30 bucks the first time (or more depending on how much press-n-peel you buy). If you don't plan on doing many other boards, by all means use a PCB fab shop.

Good luck,
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