Introduction: New Life for Old Printed Circuit Boards.

This intro tells why I did this. If you don't want to be bored by my story please skip to step 1

Hello, my name is Nic. I'm in grade 10 and I have an interest in electronics. But I have a lot of restrictions. I live in Canada in a town where there is no electronics shop other than "The Source" (Radioshack was bought out by The Source) which sells overpriced components that aren't the greatest quality, I'm far away from A1 Electronics which is a brilliant store in missisauga. And There is no Electronics course in my high school. But this hasn't stopped me.

I scavenge for parts from broken electronics I find around the house or that are given to me from friends, I am self taught thanks to books I've bought and Make:'s "Make: presents" series. But my biggest problem has been circuit boards,

The source does sell perf board (protoboard, or hole board, same thing) but it has a tendency to burn and it is a bit expensive compared to the A1 perf board, and the source doesn't sell copper clad board or etchin. So I was looking at the piles of PCBs I had acquired from Electronics I had taken apart and I thought "could I make them into my own circuits by taking advantage of the board somehow".

And so I figured out that I could help Reduce E-Waste and solve my circuit board problem at the same time.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

For recycling PCBs you will need

1) An old PCB
2) A soldering Iron
3) A desoldering pump, or desoldering iron
4) Rubbing Alcohol and a rag
5) A Dremel or rotary tool with a sanding disc
6) Some very small drill bits
7) Exacto knives and a utility knife
8) Solder to Tin your iron
9)A continuity tester
10) a Sharpie marker.

Step 2: Desolder the Board

Desolder all the components on board and do not put the components out with pliers because it will still leave behind excess solder. We want a clear board. Use a desoldering iron or a desoldering pump to remove the solder. Oh and don't forget to save the components.

Step 3: Clean the Board

After desoldering clean the board of gunk using the rubbing alcohol and rag. Rub the board with the rag until its clear of stuff like flux or glue or anything other than solder.

Step 4: Sanding the Board

Now get your dremel and attach the sanding disc bit and start to sand the board so the copper is revealed try to leave as little copper covered as possible. If you do not have a dremel sandpaper can be used to do the same thing but it may take a little longer. I also suggest you do this in a well ventilated area with a dust mask cause I don't think that green dust is terribly good for your lungs.

Once you're done clean the rest of the dust from the board with more rubbing alcohol

Step 5: The Two Methods of Using the Board

Once its clean we can use the board to solder parts to. But in order to make a circuit we need to plan it out and edit the board a bit.

But first I'll explain the two methods

The preset Method: The preset method is using the preset contacts and holes on the board that can be mixed and matched to make a circuit.

The slice Method: The slice method is where you use the exacto knives to cut the contacts and use the drill to drill part holes

You can mix these two methods to make your circuits effectively.

Step 6: The Preset Method

The test circuit I us is just a LED circuit with a nine volt battery, 1000 ohm resistor and a red LED. I started by looking at where the contacts led and finding close contacts where parts could be soldered. Use your sharpie to mark your circuit on the board. then simply solder the parts on. Use the continuity tester to search for solder bridges

-requires little work

-placing larger pieces with complex leads such as IC sockets can be troublesome and can be left up to luck with the board you choose.
-solder bridges can be common if two holes are close to each other

Step 7: The Slice Method

The slice method as I call it. Is where you use the drill and the knives to edit the board and build the circuit layout.

-The circuit is better designed and can be set to your preferences

-Time consuming

For my example I'll use a mix of both methods because its the most effective way to make your circuits.

Step 8: Building My Example

I started off by scoring the board with a utility knife so I could make the board smaller and more compact and less confusing.

Then I used the exacto knife to cut a contact into two parts. Whenever you cut a contact always use the continuity tester to check if you cut the contact successfully.

after cutting the contact I drew out the holes to be drilled with a sharpie.

I then set up my dremel with the smallest drill bit and drilled on the marks

Then for instruction sake I drew out how I would link the circuit so you can get the idea on how I do this.

Step 9: Use Your Old Boards and Reduce E-Waste

Now go out find some old PCBs and do some circuit reworking and help give them new life and reduce e-waste.

Although this may not be as good a copper clad boards and etchin it still works well for me so enjoy and I hope you enjoyed y first instructable.

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