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Old 03-20-2012, 02:06 AM   #1
chuckjaxfl
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Default Etching a circuit board from scratch

Despite there being a $7 solution commercially available, I'm going the slower, more painful, and more expensive route. I'm going to try to build my own PWM from plans I found on the net.

Here's my first attempt at etching. Not a success, but encouraging for a first attempt!



I'll take pics of the process on the way through next time.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:08 AM   #2
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Looks great! I haven't done that since a long, long time ago.

Yoiu might be able to get some conformal coating at radio shack. Mask the places you want to solder with tape and spray away to keep the conductive traces from corroding.

Otherwise maybe some spray polyurethane from home depot.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:27 AM   #3
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Can't I do all of my soldering, then spray the entire side?

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:29 AM   #4
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Can't I do all of my soldering, then spray the entire side?
Well yea, of course that would work (don't know why I didn't think of that). That copper will oxidize quickly, make sure to flux.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:58 AM   #5
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Just out of interest, why are there holes in the vias? Assuming you're going to drill those anyway, you should just make them solid...

Cheers!

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Old 03-20-2012, 11:55 AM   #6
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Just out of interest, why are there holes in the vias?
I've always found holes in the vias act like a pilot hole when drilling - the bit catches nicely if you've sized the hole properly.

Chuckjaxfl - I assume you're doing toner transfer. Lot's of folks on the interwebs suggest using photo paper, but I've found that makes really poor transfers. If you haven't already tried it - use glossy magazine paper. Just rip a page out of one of those magazines lying around the house and send it through your laser printer. If your printer jams on thin paper, try folding it over a normal sheet of printer paper.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
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Sweet! That is one thing I've never even thought about taking on. Best of luck in your endeavor and please keep us updated on the progress.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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The holes are there because that is the default in the software. When I figure out how to change it, I will make the holes smaller, at least if not remove them completely.

Yes, I'm using laser toner, and pages from a Northern Brewer catalog.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:14 PM   #9
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The holes are there because that is the default in the software. When I figure out how to change it, I will make the holes smaller, at least if not remove them completely.

Yes, I'm using laser toner, and pages from a Northern Brewer catalog.
Oh, and I'll make all of those traces the 'fat' size. That seemed to work better than those thin lines.
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
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The holes are there because that is the default in the software.
What software are you using? I've been using ExpressPCB for years - very easy to use and free. Their schematic software is great too - I designed the electrical system for my kitplane using it.

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Oh, and I'll make all of those traces the 'fat' size. That seemed to work better than those thin lines.
You should be able to go much thinner without issue. I commonly run 0.010"/0.015" traces with this process. In fact, I've found that wider traces need better technique than thinner ones. From your photo, it looks like you might have had uneven heat/pressure application. Getting the ironing right really is the most challenging part.

This has reminded me that I have a tub of spent ferric chloride I need to bring to my town's hazardous material drop off day...
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