Home Brew PCBs

Introduction: Home Brew PCBs

About: An electronics enthusiast... #Complexity simplified

This ible' is for those electronics enthusiasts who want to start making their own PCBs.

A PCB or Printed Circuit Board is an essential part of electronic gadgets and devices that we use in our day to day lives. It is the board on which all the electronic components of a gadget are soldered together to create a mechanical joint adhering to any particular electronic circuit, called schematic of the circuit which defines various connection between different components present in that circuit.

Step#1 : You need to find the perfect/almost perfect materials required for the PCB.
 List of materials required :
Copper board, laser printer, photo paper or glossy paper(i.e. the one you find in those cheap advertisements that come bundled with your newspaper), cellotape, a plastic or glass bowl/box, an old used toothbrush, sandpaper, clothes iron, water, etching solution.

Step#2 : Firstly, take the printout of the circuit(PCB) on the glossy paper using your laser-jet. Cutout the circuit and firmly place it on the copper board(i.e. cut to accurate size for the circuit) and use cellotape to hold onto it. The copper board must be cleaned first using sand paper.

Step#3 : Now use a household clothes iron to transfer the toner from the paper to the copper board. Preheat the iron at the maximum rating and then place it over the copper board. Apply pressure gently against the board using the tip of the clothes iron so that the toner gets transferred easily to the copper board.

Step#4 : After transferring the toner, dip the PCB in water contained in a glass/plastic bowl(no metal bowls can be used). As the paper gets soaked in water, remove paper with the help of toothbrush. Completely remove the paper so that all the extra copper can be removed.

Step#5 : Now dip the PCB in etching solution and constantly rub it using the toothbrush. Within 30sec you will have your custom PCB in your hands. Wash the PCB in constant flow of water after etching to remove extra solution.

Step#6 : Remember to scratch off the toner layer using a sand paper. Rub it gently over the surface.

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Some tips!

    * Use the cheap inkjet photo paper to print on. Its easier to transfer and gives a more clear and sharp transfer.

    * Put light pressure on the PCB with the iron, constantly rotating and moving it.

    * With Max setting on the iron it shouldn't take more than 1 minute to transfer. After that it starts to blur the transferred pattern. (Like in your photograph)

    * Time your transfer durations and change with experimentation to get the best quality.

    * Taking toner off with sand paper might harm the narrower traces. Use Nail polish remover and cotton to remove it.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    After the iron,under the copper it's all black, is it possible that my
    iron is too hot, the iron settings is before steam. What do you suggest?
    thank you!|


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Shouldn't be too hot to darken your board. Perhaps you're using an inferior quality PCB?

    You get PCBs made of different materials. The FR4 Fibreglass is costlier but better, and then there's another slightly browner PCB which is cheaper and gets black much quicker than Fibreglass. It also warps a bit after heating and cooling.