Introduction: PCB Making Guide

There are many ways to make your own homemade PCB's, They all work, but some better than other, some faster than other, ones are cheap and others expensive....
After several attempts, i found the way of making PCB's, wich is the cheapest, easiest and fastest for me.

I hope this instructable will help you to decide what's the best method for you, because there are so many to choose.

Step 1: Materials

Formaking the circuit you will need:
-A copper board.
-The design printed with a LASER printer on glossy paper, antiadhesive oven paper works the best!
-An iron or a laminator.
-The etching solution (Hydrochloric acid + Hydrogen peroxide).
-a plastic flat container.
-Steel wool or fine sandpaper.
-Acetone.
-A Dremel for the trough-hole components.
-The components.
-A soldering iron.

Step 2: The Board

Firstly, cut a piece of board with the size of the circuit plus abot 3mm per side.
Then scratch the surface with some sandpaper to make better the toner transfer.

Step 3: Toner Transferring

Place the paper with the circuit design on the board and make sure it fits and there isn't toner out the board.
Then fold the paper wrapping the piece and hold it together with tape.
Iron the toner side for about a minute or slide it 10-15 times in a laminator.

Step 4: Removing the Paper

Put the circuit under the tap and wet it until the paper softens. then rub it off to expose the toner circuit.

Step 5: Etching

The etching is the most important step, so do it carefully.
First, fill the container with the etching solution (in my case Hydrochloric acid + Hydrogen peroxide).
Place the circuit floating in the solution with the copper facing down.
Check the circuit each minute to see how it goes.
When the last copper trace disappears, dry the circuit to stop the acid action.

Step 6: Cleaning the Board

Rirst, remove the toner with acetone. Then you can polish the copper to give it  better appearance.
Clean the polish and the remain toner with a paper moisten in acetone.

Step 7: Drilling the Holes

If you're using trough-hole components as me, you'll need to make holes in your PCB. Learn how to do your own LED ring here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-LED-ring-for-dremel/
With a Dremel equipped with a fine drill bit, drill the holes for all the components.
Then, with a round tip mill, make "funnels" to make easier intalling the components.

Step 8: Final Steps

Tin all the parts where a component is going to be soldered. Then solder all the components in place and clean the remaining flux or resin.

If you liked my instructable, please vote me for the Laser Epilog challenge.

Comments

author
Stefano2800 made it! (author)2017-04-14

How did you choose the PCB? I mean how much current can it withstand? how to choose the proper one?

author
Andre82693 made it! (author)2017-04-11

Hi and thanks for your help
I have a problem with finding the right paper for this project . Do you have a brand or model number of paper you have used that works well. I am using the Iron on method with MG Chemicals Ferric Chloride etch

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2017-04-11

I use either smooth glossy parchement paper (not easy to find) or i just buy adhesive paper rolls. The backing they come with is very good for toner ransfer, as the toner comes off extremely easy. No need to wet the paper after ironing, just peeling it off is enough.

author
Andre82693 made it! (author)2017-04-11

Hi and thanks for your help
I have a problem with finding the right paper for this project . Do you have a brand or model number of paper you have used that works well. I am using the Iron on method with MG Chemicals Ferric Chloride etch

author
Alexander heron the inventor made it! (author)2016-06-24

where do you get the acid thingy.And will inkjet printer works?

author
Professzore made it! (author)Professzore2016-09-13

Hi,

Inkjet printer will not work (different kind of toner/paint, different way of printing etc.). Only laser.
Etching solutions is usually available at local electric shops (where normal components are available: resistors, leds or even plain PCB boards). Note that it is not available for on-line orders in most countries due to postage restrictions.

author
manicmonday made it! (author)2015-09-12

Do you know if bubble jet ink will work?

Thanks

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2015-09-13

I think it won't, tones is a polymer composite that melts onto the paper during the printing (or transfer) process, ink doesn't work that way.

author
sathees31 made it! (author)2015-08-20

Thanks a lot! It was really geniune. I was looking for a copper board to buy; Is there any thickness recommended??

author
DiYDesignNewb made it! (author)2015-07-06

Love this guide. As someone who's started dabbling in DiY/hobby tech design stuff this is really helpful. Also works well with some other info I've been pouring over like this: http://www.elex.co.nz/services/pcb-design/ . Though I think it's about time I pulled my head out of books/guides/texts and started cutting some copper :P Anyone have any links to other resources or step-by-steps I should use too?

author
diy_bloke made it! (author)2015-06-12

I use this method for a long time already, goes perfect. Still, i observed something odd: when I used the printer ink that came with my printer it went well. after I bought new brandless ink the toner transfer didnt go so well.
Now I am not saying you shld buy expensive ink, on the contrary as I have only tried it twice since I bought new ink. But I am wondering if others have the same problem.
Maybe it is just a matter of adapting the heating, as my new ink seemed to melt and smudge

author
schabanow made it! (author)2015-06-08

Electrolyte solution is just CuSO4 / NaNO3 = 1 / 2

CuSO4 is bluestone and NaNO3 is cooking salt. Any 20% peroxide! )) The process is smooth, quiet and pretty quick (up to 30 min for 20 C deg.)

Here is an article in Russian - some further details and vivid pictures: http://easyelectronics.ru/travlenie-pechatnyx-plat...

author
tantris made it! (author)tantris2015-06-10

> CuSO4 is bluestone

Also available as root remover for drain pipes.

> and NaNO3 is cooking salt.

Please don't invite me for dinner.

author
schabanow made it! (author)schabanow2015-06-11

> Also available as root remover for drain pipes.
Well we use ax just like as our ancestry did ... or air compressor cleaning + chainsaw then = in most complicated cases. ))

And our bluestone is good for tomatoes' cure for many blights (in mixture with lime and water).

author
schabanow made it! (author)2015-06-08

> ... antiadhesive oven paper works the best!

I'm sure THICK GLOSSY PAPER for INKJET PHOTO PRINTERS works MUCH better than your oven paper. Cause glossy layer impregnated and baked into melted toner traces gives much more thick and robust mask than naked toner itself... Try and compare!

author
cburg made it! (author)2015-06-07

I have been using this same basic method for years, and it works great. This is very good write up of the method. This old dog learned a new trick ... The Paper!

The paper that I used in the past was the cheap photo high gloss print paper from Staples. After testing many other kinds this is what I found worked best BUT not all the time.

I will buy some "Parchment Paper" tomorrow! This old Dog wants to try out this new bone!

Thanks, Great Job!

BTW: I use 40% Muratic Acid and 60% Hydrogen Peroxide. I buy the Muratic Acid anywhere they sell building supplies. It is used for both drain cleaning and brick cleaning. I buy the Hydrogen Peroxide at a beauty supply store. I use 20% concentrate.

author
12203madman made it! (author)2014-04-03

oh and where might i find hydrochloric acid

author
camoraal made it! (author)camoraal2014-06-26

hydrochloric acid is normal pool acid found in general groceries stores

author
bill.harvey.100 made it! (author)bill.harvey.1002015-06-07

Also known as Muratic Acid (aka HCL). Available at any big box home improvement store or any large discount store. Look the pool maintenance section.

author
MrTinkerer made it! (author)2013-05-13

How do you line it up for a double-sided PCB?

author
flagstone78 made it! (author)flagstone782015-06-07

I line up both side by putting a bright light behind the papers and line it up visually. Then i tape the papers together then just slide the board in between before ironing.

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2013-05-13

I've seen that people print 4 dots out of the circuit, they hole them, and hold them in place with something trough them. But you have to make sure that the design of both sides match correcly.

author
MrTinkerer made it! (author)MrTinkerer2013-05-14

what do you use to design your PCB?

author
Wazzupdoc made it! (author)Wazzupdoc2013-05-16

For a first attempt, play with PCBExpress (Google it). It's FREE. There are other sources for free design software, just search a little.

author
MrTinkerer made it! (author)MrTinkerer2013-05-16

PCBExpress did not have design software but ExpressPCB did. testing it out. thanks for the lead.

author
Wazzupdoc made it! (author)Wazzupdoc2013-05-17

Correct, mybad. Senior moment :)

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2013-05-15

I've used photoshop, but there is specific software to do it.

author
kelebrin made it! (author)2015-06-07

According to step 4 Removing the paper. I hold move transferred board into vinegar bath, hold it in for few minutes then paper goes out very easy.

author
theboz1419 made it! (author)2015-06-07

I used to do this with my boards, but the cost and the error rate can be a problem from time to time. Now, I just use OSH Park and I get 3 copies of small boards for less ten dollars including shipping. Three boards of about 2x5 cost about $50

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2015-06-07

It may be convinient, but $50 is more than the whole budget i have for most projects.

author
Mc2mahon made it! (author)2015-05-23

i didnt find copper plate where exactly they available?

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2015-05-24

They're sold on ebay, just look for copper clad boards.

author
cooldharap made it! (author)2014-07-31

It worked for me but everytime i had a fallure that only 10-12% toner is not getting transeferred onto the board ..... it has happened thrice now and the portion not transferred is the same everytime ... what could be the possible reason behind it ? do give a solution

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2014-07-31

Now i use parchment paper to make the circuits with the best results, just print the circuit on the anti-adhesive side. No toner gets stuck in that paper.

author
cooldharap made it! (author)2014-07-23

can u plz give the concentration of chemicals for etching solution ?

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2014-07-23

It can vary, normally i aim to make a 50-50 solution, but i haven't experimented for optimal results.

author
CoreyCoop made it! (author)2013-05-17

What is the mix of acid to hydrogen peroxide, or is it a product off the shelf?

author
achand8 made it! (author)achand82014-04-20

Generally 30% concentrated HCL and 2-3% conc H2O2 in equal quantities will etch the board in 1-2 minutes.

author
Onyx Ibex made it! (author)Onyx Ibex2013-05-17

I use 1 part HCl to 2 parts H2O2. There is a shorter shelf life for this mixture, it generally doesn't last long unless you 'regenerate' the etchant solution. Search online if you are interested in this ;) I would still recommend this process over other etchants.

author
kadris3 made it! (author)kadris32013-05-17

there are many etching solutions available from most electronics supply houses. even the radio shack has an entry. some are shipped as a powder for safety reasons. you may find some with which you can live. good luck

author
kadris3 made it! (author)kadris32013-05-17

there are many etching solutions available from most electronics supply houses. even the radio shack has an entry. some are shipped as a powder for safety reasons. you may find some with which you can live. good luck

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2013-05-17

This mixture produces chlorine gas once mixed, and to bottle a product that expands producing poisonous gases is not the a good idea.

author
12203madman made it! (author)2014-04-03

thanks i will be trying this out

author
sydkahn made it! (author)2014-02-15

on the anti-adhesive baking paper - is that the same as "Parchment Paper?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parchment_paper_(baki...

author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2014-02-15

Yes, i think so.

author
sydkahn made it! (author)sydkahn2014-02-15

FWIW - I just tried a test print on some Reynolds and Reynolds parchment paper with an HP Laser Printer. When R&R claim non stick - they really mean it. You can actually rub the toner off it. I am going to try and iron a pattern on a board - I will be very, very, careful not to smudge the print.

author
aldeen19 made it! (author)2013-07-19

Nice and neat, thanks.

author
guds777 made it! (author)2013-06-17

i was making my own pcb and it was for a smd Mc33035 IC chip and it has very very fine legs, 0,4 mm thick with 0,3 mm apart. And i tried to draw the tracers with a permanent marker, and i tried to paint it on with a varnish fly-tying paint it works well, except it is hard to paint very fine accurate tracers. So what works best for me is to use clear tape, draw the layout on with a permanent marker, put another layer on, then cut it out with ruler, sharp blade and a soldering helper with magnifying glass, it is important. The acid don't touch the plastic tape. If you dont have the glossy paper or the printer then this is my recommendation.

author
robi_ncc made it! (author)2013-05-17

Can I use Sticky Tape's other side instead of “Glossy Paper”? I add picture of it. Pls replay....
Thanks.

Sticky Tape.JPG
author
pinomelean made it! (author)pinomelean2013-05-17

If you can iron it without burning the paper, i supose, so.

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