One of the most aggravating things when creating DIY circuits is the making of the PCB.
Up till now, DIY methods require alot of work and time on each board.
If you have struggled with other methods of DIY PCB prototyping you've likely figured out the hard way that they can be frustrating - provide spotty results - and require alot of steps and work.
Well here's another method to throw into the bag of tricks that might just work out for you!
It's really only 3 steps and turns out perfect everytime!!!!
This method has served me very well over and over for dozens of boards!
It uses a vinyl cutter/plotter to create a mask in vinyl to resist the ferric chloride etchant.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Prepared vinyl mask (if you don't have a vinyl cutter - sign shops and many hackerspaces do!)
- Etchant solution and glass or plastic tray
- Fingernail Polish remover and acetone safe container
- Blank copperclad PCB
- Standard chemical safety materials - gloves, eye protection, etc
That's about it!
We will skim over how to design and cut the pcb design into vinyl and at this point assume that you have a cutter or know someone with access to one (local hackerspace or even a local sign shop!)
It's the same as making any vinyl cut sticker.
See the additional pictures in this intro for some educational pictures of the preparation of a vinyl sticker in this step.
Next Step! - Placing the mask onto the PCB
Step 1: STEP ONE - PLACING THE MASK ONTO THE PCB
This only takes about one minute.
Notice that I'm doing two boards at once!
This is much faster than the iron on method - you don't even have to clean the board or prepare it for the mask!
Place the vinyl mask paper side up and remove the wax paper backing by peeling it up and over.
The clear transfer tape holds the vinyl in place!
Line up the mask and lay it onto the blank PCB.
The clear transfer tape makes alignment as easy as it can be!
Once it's down - use a squeegee, plastic card, or just your fingernail to rub the top of the transfer tape thus pushing the vinyl to the board.
Starting from one corner - peel the transfer tape off and the vinyl mask will stay onto the copperclad PCB.
NEXT - STEP TWO Etching the PCB