The Return of the Dead Flatbed Scanner





Introduction: The Return of the Dead Flatbed Scanner

How a dead scanner can return as a printed circuit board UV lamp. Keep that cover closed !

Step 1: Forewords

I made this Ultra Violet bed to make printed circuit boards a few years ago without in mind, so rather than a step by step pictorial description of how I made it, I'll provide you with a few pictures of the finished work and hints on how you can do the same. Hope this will help anyways.

First of all, safety. Notice that this is a mains powered device so maximum care must be taken in the design to insure that for no reason someone may come into contact with live parts. If you are not sure about medium voltage (mains) electrical wiring practice ask a friend or someone else whom is.

Step 2: Inside the Case

Just a reminder first: 100/220 ac mains can be very dangerous! Oh, I think I already told so.

First thing I did was to disembowel the scanner, after all what I needed was the case with glass and cover. No electrical parts where reused. Of course you may want to save the motors, belts, screws, head parts...You know, almost everything.

Then I opted for 3 tubes (around 8 Euro each), with ballasts and starters (6/7 Euro for each set). The switch, fuse holder and mains socket I scavenged from somewhere.
For the bottom plane I used a tin sheet. This acts as a sort of mirror/diffuser for UVs.
I used also some scrap aluminum bars from kitchen furnitures, their colour in the pictures tell it. Spacers and screws as required.

Now, the pictures show the electric diagram and the interior of the UV bed.
The circuit is based on three TL5 8W wood light tubes. Each tube is powered by its own ballast and starter . The number of tubes can be increased at will. The circuit is provided with a safety fuse and a power switch. A power socket (taken from a PC power supply) complements the circuit.

All metallic parts inside that have an external metallic counterpart electrically connect to it, must be earthed i.e. connected to the ground line. This is an important safety measure: if something goes wrong and the metal inside becomes 'live' the safety switch or fuse you have in your home trips off and no one is injured. Otherwise the external metallic part may become live without anyone noticing until touched. In my case, since I used a metallic bottom and metallic spacers and screws to hold it to the case, I bolted the metallic bottom to the ground.

As I am writing I think that I should have bolted to ground the back panel which is metallic and can be reached externally as well. I'll do so.

Step 3: A Few More Details

A few details now.

Grommets must be used where the wires cross the metallic plane so as the plastic insulator of the
electric wire does not wear out against the metal plane.

The fuse must be rated for the lamps used. In my case 3x8W 220Vac require a 0.5A fuse.

The tubes, ballasts and starters must be rated togheter. Too high rated the ballast and the tubes
get burnt, too low rated and the ballasts burn. Ballasts are typically rated with ranges e.g. 4-20W.
With different wiring and rating one ballast can serve two tubes. Check with the ballast supplier.

As a second thought, I think I shouldn't have removed the scanner's head. I should have mounted one single tube to the moving head of the scanner and use the stepper motor and belt to move the head back and forth.
To provide a uniform lighting the head should have been moved with a non-uniform speed (arcsinusoidal, or inverse sin function, I am guessing). Exposure time would be given by the head-lamp scanning faster or slower as required. But that's another story

One final important notice: UVs are dangerous to the eyes, so do not stare at the tubes when lit.




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    thank you for the big help

    good diagram, although where i come from green tends to mean ground, so i might've chosen a diff. color for circuit wiring. Otherwise though nice layout. Yes by all means ground every metal part that's not part of the conducting circuit.

    3 replies

    Yes, absolutely true. I actually remember seeing in South Africa a wired panel with green ground wires....I made an unfortunate choice of colour indeed ! Thanks for pointing that out. Ciao 5Volt

    Are these the same lights that will kill algee in fish ponds?

    Hi 5Volt, the all green wires remind me of a past employer of mine. In an attempt to "Spend a Penny to save a Pound" one of the geniuses in engineering sold the idea of changing color coded wire loom to all white with (you won't believe it) the connection info printed on both ends of the wire. One needed a magnifying glass to read this stuff 24 ga. wire makes for a very small type point regardless of font! The result of the 3 year exercise was "A Pound was spent including the Penny"! ARGH, management what would we do without them.

    i'm also quite confused as to which type of UV light i should be using. I take it that this is a Black light one, although i see this person ( using tanning Bulbs. Which one will expose a board the fastest ? Which one is most suited to this application ? Thanks a lot in advance

    Was wondering if you could tell me the exposure times for this setup and the exact model of the bulbs thanks


    why not fit a cutout switch(so lamps extinguish when cover is opened).

    labtech you did think of it. sometimes you just feel as if you were there when the project became reality. eh? ideas float in the air and when someone moves on making one we all benefit or not. a connectiveness of sorts.

    in the usa

    green is ground
    white or gray is neutral
    black is hot leg or #1 in multiphase
    red is " " #2 " " "
    blue is #3 in 120?208 multiphase
    orange is # in multiphase or a high leg in a Delta
    brown is # in

    hey its been so long that my brain is in the wrong phase. sorry look it up and be careful.

    remember that if you are not grounded shock potential is minimized or eliminated BUT trickle currents can still shock the doggy doo out of you.

    stand on a dry insulator if you MUST work on a live mains situation

    try not to do work without another person close by

    try to learn to give CPR as coronary arrest usually occurs in electrocution

    And generally if in doubt DON'T $#% with live circuits.


    Great project. The only criticism I have is; Why didn't I think of this?

    This would be really cool by using a scanner with a transparency hood and having UV tubes in the hood as well. That way, you could expose 2-sided boards without the risk of accidental movement when turning the bord over to expose the second side. All the the ballasts and starters could be housed in the lower casing, while just having the tubes in the hood. I think I'll get that old scanner out of the attic and have a go! Thanks for the idea, it had never occurred to me before.

    1 reply

    Or, if you had 2 identical scanners, you could take the covers off both and hinge them together, face-to-face (with UV tubes in both, of course.) Also, add an interlock switch to kill the UV when the cover is opened. Also, get a spring wound timer switch like on a bathroom heat lamp to set a repeatable exposure time.

    nice idea, yea. Can someone tell me if i can do this,in an non working scanner ? by using bulb's or floureocent tubes' if there is someone who likes to help, e- mail me : thanks to you all Buddies. jerry.

    1 reply

    Of course you can do this thing to a working scanner. Using a non-working one is more cost effective though. Read the full instructable and learn how. Click on "view all steps on one page". Ciao

    Thank you everybody for the interest shown. I didn't think to an instructable on how to actually make PCBs, Sumguysr summarized well and Googl-ing gives excellent results. Yes, I read that visible, strong light gives results with PCBs as well. Makes sense as many common light sources do emit in the UV as well. EEPROMS are hard to find, better luck with EEPROM-based microcontrollers. Not sure about the wavelength required by EEPROMs but I think that these should be erased just fine, didn't try, though. OSKAY, UVs are reeaaally cool ! But nobody should indulge in staring UVs, the damage is the one you do not notice until late. After a few seconds your eyes start sending painful signals. Interesting experiments include (wearing wide sunglasses) looking at crystals and common stones, invisible dust and stains, fingerprints and, well, everything. You'll see a lot of new things. It's like listening to ultrasounds (?) or listening to Infrared sources (??). Well, on this, sooner or later. For now, just Google around. How about replacing the visible tube of a battery operated portable camping light with a UV tube ? Not good for PCBs but great for looking at things in a much different way. Ciao e a presto 5V.

    2 replies

    BTW you are confusing EEPROMS with EPROMS. You don't erase EEPROMS with UV Electronically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory You erase EPROMS with UV erasable programmable read-only memory For optimum erasure time UV light must have a wavelength of 235nm But I'm still 95% sure your box would erase EPROMS since you can leave em outside in the sun to erase em....just takes way more time!

    Not confusing, just mistyping and not reading again! actually EEPROM-based microcontrollers would be slow as a dog ! Ciao 5Volt

    Very nice way of recycling an old scanner for photo resist etching purposes!
    You could also use it to erase eproms =)

    2 1/2 thumbs up! (where does the half come from? nobody knows!)

    1 reply

    im afraid it wouldn't work to erase eproms. eproms require near band ultraviolet light, which will not work for exposing photo resist. Who cares though, uv erasible eproms are ancient.