Another Quick PCB Prototyping Method

Picture of Another Quick PCB Prototyping Method
This Instructable is part of my Current Regulated LED Tester

I use this method when I need to make a PCB that's simple, proof-of-concept, and quick. This method is generally restricted to making through-hole component PCBs. I don't usually like to use veroboards because in my opinion, they look ugly most of the time. For more complex, professional looking boards, I normally use the toner transfer method.

The good thing about this quick method is that it still looks decent on the top or component side.

I've looked around Instructables and found a very similar method to mine, but different enough to be significant.

Similar to Real Elliot's Instructable, the key ingredient in this method is, ironically, a veroboard.

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Step 1: Tools & materials

Picture of Tools & materials
- Permanent marker
- Veroboard
- Rotary tool or drill
- Etching tub/container
- Scouring pad
- Copper clad board
- Masking tape (or any other adhesive tape)
- Etching solution
- Acetone

popunonkok2 years ago
What? No UV light? Or have i missed something?
No, the ink protects the copper from the etching solution. No UV needed.
m7md magdy1 year ago
hi i used ur method but there's a problem the whole board is conductive (transfer electricity) i did ecerything nice i used etchant powder and water any ideas please , waiting for your respond ,thanx
m7md magdy1 year ago
hi i used ur method but there's a problem the whole board is conductive (transfer electricity) i did ecerything nice i used etchant powder and water any ideas please , waiting for your respond ,thanx
nachiketa4 years ago
Lovely ! The most simple ..too good
where did you get that etching solution?

The holes that arent drilled are (in coordinates) (12,10) and (15,10)
ratgod4 years ago
Thats an excellent Idea, I've thought about trying it before but never got round to it, pitty it wont work with SMT devices though.

good instructable
appsman5 years ago
Wouldn't it be even easier to drill the holes in unclad board (no copper at all), then push the component leads through, and wire up the underside with un-insulated buss wire? Then you have no etching whatsoever. In fact, for many "traces" you don't even need the buss wire because you can use the component leads themselves by bending them over to make a connection. Don't cut any lead until you see that you won't be using it for a connection. This would look exactly the same as your technique from the topside, is much faster, and requires no chemicals. One more benefit is you don't have to worry about copper traces lifting after repairs or rework.
DanZen (author)  appsman5 years ago
You are right about the board looking the same from the topside. But what would the unclad board then serve besides looking decent? Your method would work but the purpose of soldering to a copper clad board is to secure the components and give the whole assembly some structural integrity. I imagine that a "board" made with your method would have components wobbling around and sliding up and down. This would cause fatigue to the component leads and solder joints.
appsman DanZen4 years ago
That may be "possible", but in reality it does not happen. You push a component lead through a hole and and then bend the lead to the side. It is very secure. I have made dozens of small boards this way. As long as you are not sending your work up in the space shuttle, the reliability is fine.
he (presumably he) said in one of the steps: perf board looks ugly.
DanZen, where did you buy the etchant and how did it cost? Is there any store I could go to, cuz I kinda hate waiting for mail and paying ship/handling. thx.
DanZen (author)  crazyromanian5 years ago
The etchant I used is a muriatic (hydrochloric) acid and hydrogen peroxide mix. There's a great instructible on it here.
sweet thx again. by the way, when you use sharpie as the etch resist, does it not get lifted off the copper cuz I tried for etching and I used sharpie and it got removed?
DanZen (author)  crazyromanian5 years ago
I've personally never tried that method, but in general, you'd want to make sure that the sharpie (or other etch resist) completely dries before etching your board. Also, regardless of the masking (sharpie, toner transfer, photolitography, etc.) and etching (cupric chloride, ferric chloride, ammonium persulphate, etc.) technique you use, it is very possible to over etch your board. Another thing to note is that you do need to use "permanent markers". "Sharpie" is really a specific brand of marking pens. While I have never seen non-permanent Sharpie markers you should check that yours is permanent (does not dissolve in water).
the first time i tried that method, i put only a thin swiping layer with a sharpie that was running short on ink. so mainly the etch resist has to be resistant to water and whatever else is in the solution? and the HCl and H2O2 method looks like the easiest and cheapest I've ever seen, so I'll will try it. thx for the help.
Good idea for making holes!!!
SinAmos5 years ago
Hey dan, good instructable, I really think it's quite useful but I couldn't help to make a little remark about your routes... In small circuits like this one you can't tell the diference but in bigger ones it's effect is clear. You should avoid at all costs your 3 way knots in the shape of a T, it's considered an circuit board error. you should make some sort of triangle or polygon so that the path that the current as to go is smaller and therefore the natural resistance of the circuit smaller too. you should also try to compact your routes and component to the limit to spare copper and board space. Don't take this the bad way, I'm really only trying to help. in this pic you can see the maker left a lot of copper on the board but that's ok, it helps to dissipate the heat when you solder. he made the polygons im talking about
DanZen (author)  MiguelReisOrcinha5 years ago
Hi, thanks for the complement. As for the criticisms, I'm well aware of all the things you mentioned. As this is a really simple circuit, all those have little if not no effect at all. When I'm designing a more complex and/or sensitive circuit, I take all those into account. From the pic, I see that some routes are actually polygons and not errr... "tracks". I normally only do polygon shaped routes for power and/or ground signals. If resistance is of concern, then the limit is really the narrowest part of the track. Large copper areas are really used to sink the heat produce by your components during operation and not during soldering. Having to heat up a large area or having the heat directed away from the spot you're soldering will cause a cold joint. Having said that, I always use thermal isolates when there are components/pads in a large copper filled area. To avoid overheating components (transistors in particular) during soldering, I simply clip the component lead with a crocodile clip right at the base of the component to sink the heat. I also never use right angle bends. The least I would do are 45 degree bends and like you said, triangles at "T" junctions. For a large board, I always use a polygon pour over the entire board even if I don't use it as a power/ground plane. In fact, most of the time my layout will have "islands" or orphans as it is called in EAGLE. This minimizes the amount of copper I have to etch away.
pstretz5 years ago
I really like this idea. I'm for sure using it on my next project. I wonder if it'd be easier to print the mirrored layout with pads and tape it to the board. Basically your method but using paper in place of the perfboard.
Bongmaster5 years ago
nice :) i use the same etchetant ;) and pen it seems XD tho i have a thinner tip pen for tighter tracks also.
Gilo Bongmaster5 years ago
Is the green etchant a muriatic acid/hydrogen peroxide mix?
DanZen (author)  Gilo5 years ago
Yes it is. Check out the Instructible here.
yup the very same XD
denanderen5 years ago
wouldn't it be easier to first apply your toner and then start drilling the holes? i think it might be easier to drill the holes, because if you drill the holes first, there's a small chance that they don't align with your traces(i.e. by accidentally moving your toner sheet while transferring).
There was no toner transfer in this, the holes were drilled using a template that was hand-drawn and matches an Eagle CAD layout, then the traces were drawn on the copperclad board with a sharpie marker ontop of the holes. There's no chance of your traces missing your holes unless you physically make the choice to draw them such that they miss.

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