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Picture of DIY Customized Circuit Board (PCB Making)
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Today I'm going to show you how to make your very own customized PCB (printed circuit board). All you need are some materials and tools like a: PCB board, A bottle of Ferric Chloride, A mini drill, A small container, A bottle of thinner and Some plastic tweezers. Making your own circuit board only takes a snap, what you need is 30-45 minutes of time. I thought of posting this Instructable since there are only few articles out here in the site about making a customized circuit board

It is so easy even a 12 year old kid can make one !!!! ^_^ !!!!!

P.C.B. (Printed Circuit Board)

What are PCBs ?

PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, tracks or signal traces etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive board. Components are connected through the conductive material below a non conductive board, the common conductive material used in packaged PCBs are usually copper, since copper is cheap and common.

Why Use Customized PCBs Instead of Ready Made Project Board?
First, because the board will be more compact because your design as well is made to be compact. Second, it's more convenient to use, since you can decide where to put space on your board. And last, the board will be stronger unlike those ready made project boards are full of holes everywhere, making ready made boards weaker.

How Do We Make Them ?

Usually you print your circuit design indirectly to your board, you print it on a glossy paper, photo paper or magazine paper. Let me remind you that before you print you should use a laser printer or a photocopying machine, using of inkjet printer will not work. After you had printed your circuit board design you will iron the printed design over the copper side of the PCB, ironing it above the copper side of the board will transfer the ink, from the glossy paper to the PCB board. The ink serves as the protective layer to cover the copper part that shouldn't be etched. Then after transferring the ink to the PCB board you will have to dip the PCB board to a etching solution like Ferric Chloride for 15 minutes. After etching it you might have to rinse the PCB board with water to remove the etching solution. After rinsing it you should remove the remaining ink with thinner, to uncover the uneched copper part. After removing the ink you will need to dill holes for your components to be soldered on the board. And last but not least just solder your components of your customized board and your done!!!

How does the procedure work?

Since the etching solution only works with metal and not with ink, you transfer ink to the copper side of the PCB be so that a certain pattern on your PCB board gets etched and the inked part doesn't
Notice:

The video below is not mine!!

Its the courtesy of javapda.
The Peel n Press paper mention can be substituted with a magazine paper or photo paper.

 
 
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Step 1: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials
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Here are the tools and material that you are going to need.

Tools:
- Mini Drill (Dremel)
- Flat Iron
- Laser Printer / Photocopying Machine
- Latex Gloves
- Eye Protection

Materials:
- Etching Solution (Ferric Chloride)
- PCB Board
- Fine Tipped Marker
- Ruler (optional)
- Magazine Paper / Glossy Paper
- Plastic Tweezers / Plastic Straws 
- Small Piece of Cloth
- Sanding Paper

Where To Buy: (click on the material to see where to buy)
- PCB Board
- Ferric Chloride 
- Sanding Paper
- Dremel
- Plastic Tweezers
- Latex Gloves
- Eye Protection
- Laser Printer

Step 2: Making Your Circuit Board Design

Picture of Making Your Circuit Board Design
If you already have a PCB layout then there's no problem you can just skip this step and go to the other one, you might as well write your design directly on the board, if you don't have plans doing the printing method. Before you make your own customizes PCB board you should first design your own PCB layout. You can can make your own PCB layout by using a decent PCB designing software. For me the best PCB board design software is Eagle Layout Editor, but for people who are looking for a less complicated software can use Microsoft Powerpoint.

Here's the link for Eagle Layout Editor download: http://www.cadsoftusa.com/downloads/freeware/

Step 3: Printing Your PCB Layout

Picture of Printing Your PCB Layout
When you print your layout be sure to use a Laser Printer or a Photocopying Machine, Inkjet Printers wouldn't work since its ink is soluble with water so it won't transfer its ink on the PCB board. Use any kind of glossy paper, magazine papers would do.

Summary:

What Paper Should I Use:
- Photo Paper
- Magazine Paper
- Glossy Paper 

What Printer Should I Use?
- Laser Printer
- Photocopying Machine

Step 4: Ironing The Printed PCB Layout

Picture of Ironing The Printed PCB Layout
Use a laundry iron to iron your printed PCB layout to your board. Ironing the printed layout transfers the ink from the paper going to the PCB board. You need to set your iron's temperature to the highest setting if your paper is thick but if not, set it to the medium setting.

Step 5: Rubbing The Paper Off the Board

Picture of Rubbing The Paper Off the Board
You need to soak the board to a container of tap water for about 2-5 mins, or you can rub it will you expose it on running water from the sink. Be sure to wait until the paper on the board becomes soggy, then rub it gently so the ink wont get removed when you rub the paper off the board. 

Step 6: Sawing The Excess Board & Sanding It

Picture of Sawing The Excess Board & Sanding It
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Saw the excess board with a metal saw. Next you need to sand the edges to smoothen the board with sanding paper, kindly use the finer so you will have a finner finish.

Step 7: Cleaning The Board & Restoring It

Picture of Cleaning The Board & Restoring It
Even though you have rubbed the paper off the board there will still be excess paper left on the board, remove it using a very sharp object like the tip of the cutter, the point of a sharp compass or a tooth pick. When you had rub it off or you had sawed the excess board, some of the inked areas had been remove unintentionally, you should restore it with a marker and a ruler.

Step 8: Etching The PCB Board

Picture of Etching The PCB Board
There are different variety of etching solution but the most common is Ferric Chloride. Get a plastic container, never use any kind of metal container. Pour th etching solution on your plastic container. Leave the PCB board for about 30-45 minutes in the container. After for about 30-45 minutes remove it from the container, leaving it for a long time will etch the ink protected area so please remove it when it's done.

Step 9: Rinsing The Board

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Rinse the PCB board with tap water, after etching it in the solution. Be sure to wear glover when cleaning it. It is advised to use plastic tweezers, please do not use metallic materials like pliers or your tool will end up like mine's, its rusty.

Step 10: Removing The Left Ink

Picture of Removing The Left Ink
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First you should brush the remaining ink with laundry soap after etching the board to expose the copper part of the board, or you could clean it with a small piece of sanding paper (fine) while give it its shiny finish.

Step 11: Drilling The Holes

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Drill the board with a mini drill a dremel tool will do. After drilling it rinse it again with water. Be sure to drill it on the copper side, since the copper layout will be your guide where to drill.

Step 12: Your Done !!!

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Your Done !!! ^_^ !!!! 

Be sure to clean it before you solder the components.


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I think I might try this! Never tried etching a PCB board...
ASCAS (author)  joespicnictables3 years ago
Try it, its fun!
Good instructable. You've got the right blend of pictures and text.

Just from a principals point of view i would use a glass container for the etching process rather than a plastic one. Glass is less likely to react with chemicals. Even if Ferric Chloride doesn't react with plastic, having a good glass container is useful for other projects.
ASCAS (author)  cyberviper423 years ago
Thank! I'l use glass instead.
agis683 years ago
thanx for this instructable...
lourens013 years ago
Just what I've been looking for. Great for once-off projects.
Good job. :)
profpat3 years ago
nice ible! hope people out there will like it too!
I always wanted to try this. Thanks for the step-by-step. Great Job!
dex38443 years ago
Was looking for an instructable just like this one - Thanks big time
:)
Mr. Scruff3 years ago
great. just what i needed. Thx!
simbu.rm3 years ago
Very good work.....
icekid3 years ago
Nice Job !!!! Works great :)))
n2963p16 days ago

A comment was made below about drilling after etching. If
you drill after etching, the drill may catch the copper and rip the pad
off the fiberglass board. Drilling before means the copper is more
substantial and stable, and won't pull up as easily.

If you do want to drill after etching, make the drill holes in your layout smaller. That way, the drill tip can find the center of the hole easier and you won't have to use the punch. If you drill before and use the punch, the smaller hole mark will help you identify the center of the hole and reduce the risk of getting off center.

Also, try a scotchbrite instead of steel wool. The steel wool introduces dis-similar metals and may cause corrosion. The scotchbrite won't do that and it works just as well.

soujeem17 days ago
cool
tclayton1 month ago
Awesome i always wondered how this was done, definitely gonna invest in materials for this, seems way more efficient than trying to solder loopy wires
shall we use common printer
galeb2 months ago

On step 3 you show both the paper and the PCB as the same, you need to print the mirror image so that when laid down on the PCB the image will be what you want printed on the PCB

YdorR2 months ago
Mr AbAk6 months ago

Nice Guide...

MushfiqS17 months ago

Excellent! Here is a series of tutorials for those interested in learned Eagle. Check it out: http://computeraideddesignguide.com/eagle-pcb-tutorials-design-exercises/

Divergence7 months ago
Is there a way without a laser printer or photocopier? Because I don't have either
akashg18 months ago

this is really good Video. I hope I am going to do it in the first go with some amount of success. Thanks for sharing! I am keeping this page in my reading list.

akashg18 months ago

This is very good! I too am going to try something similar. Thank You very much for sharing. Hope mine will be sharable in first go!

Strickster1 year ago
Great instructable, I'm just not sure about a 12 year old working with acid...

Well, I was 11 the first time i tried acid, and I turned out alright.

Yeah I was 13 before I etched my first PCB. People start younger and younger these days.

TiagoS110 months ago

Great tutorial :-) You should consider drilling after etching tho.

vak521 year ago

Awesome! This helped me out a lot

Dnoel41 year ago

Great! Thanks! Very helpful!

Um, you think, maybe there's a chance this will ruin your metal drain pipes? Yes, I think so. I would rinse it in a large tub of water, and then pour the substance into a large plastic jug, and take it to a hazardous waste round up. OR pour a lot of baking soda into the ferric acid to nutralize it. I am not a chemist, but I think these points are valid, an lab techs / chemists want to chime in here?
try out HCl ( about 30%) and H2O2 ( 3%) in 1:2 ratio and never worry about the drain, as you don't need to throw it away.ever.
ASCAS (author)  shakespeare12123 years ago
yeah it ruins it :))) well since our tubings on our bathrooms in our 1st floor is made out of plastic, it wont be ruined, but the only problem is how do i dispose ferric chloride properly ?? probably it will disintegrate when dumped on the ground :)) still researching on that. hope i find new solution :)) well nice point of yours
osgeld ASCAS3 years ago
I don't think the chemicals are nearly as bad as the copper dissolved in it, a lot of people let it dry out and properly dispose of the dried crud.

as far as drains, this stuff takes up to an hour to eat away a thin copper foil, its not going to do much to your pipes, which are usually lined up with a layer of goo anyway unless its brand new construction.

SY PCB manufacturer here, professional manufacturers single-side,double-side,multi-layer PCB and aluminum PCB.As we

also produce the raw materials .

You can send me the files as PCB Tech-Drawings or Gerber file,I will provide quotation for you.
If I can be of any service to you, please let me know.

Are you sure about Powerpoint? I think it's only to make presentations...
ASCAS (author)  andrea biffi1 year ago
I used to make PCBs with powerpoint (using shapes and lines), it made me laugh, remembering my silly idea last 3 years ago :))

I upgraded to Eagle for double-sided PCBs and Fritzing for designing Arduino shields.
LOL you are great! :-)
thanks for this inscrutable.but,I have a problem and my problem is I can't find the PCB Board.From which store I would be able to find them ?
ASCAS (author)  Iqbal Samin1 year ago
NP! In what country are you in? If you live in America, I'm sure they have PCBs in Radioshack.
ndela roca2 years ago
Can i buy ferric chloride and pcb board (copper board) here in philippines ???
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