Build Your Own PCB Bubble Tank!




Introduction: Build Your Own PCB Bubble Tank!


Instructions on how to build your very own bubble tank for etching all those homebrew PCB's you have always wanted to make!

Step 1: Getting the Basis for Your Tank...

The first thing you should do is get a plastic box of some description for your tank, then a heater for it, then something to use as a rack... its crucial that everything that goes in this is non-metallic by the way... lastly you need an air pump.

The heater and the pump Im using was salvaged from an old fishtank...

Step 2: Making Your Rack...

Ok, I used two cocktail stirrers as my rack... I melted the ends of the stirrers to form a kinda V shape for holding the board, I cut two holes for the rack and one bigger one for the heater. This will allow us to mount the equipment in the lid...

Step 3: Putting It All Together :p

The last step is to run some hose from your pump down through the lid and across the bottom, ensure the hose at the bottom of your tank is perforated and the end is sealed, this will create pressure in the tube forcing the air out through the perforations causing bubbles!

Unfortunately I cant find my pump at the minute so Ill have to add a photo of that afterwards, anyway good luck!



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    16 Discussions

    I haven't tried it, but I will :p Ferric chloride is quite easy to get in Ireland, Peats and Maplin sell it to the public, and then there are places like Radionics who will sell in bulk, the only hard part about it is getting rid of it responcibly (sp?)

    Ill be starting to use this tank soon for manufacturing PCB's for my PIC robot, a digital trainer, a PIC trainer, a CNC milling machine and a few other bits so it will be put to good use quite soon with loads of chances to experiment :p - for more information.

    2 replies

    I've just ordered some stuff from maplins 'N18KH Etchant Neutraliser ' which claims in turns used etchant into 'a cake like material'. Presumably not edible cake, but to dispose in the normal rubbish.

    If one uses the bubble tank and just add leds one can have a nice lamp.

    I think your idea is easier for me.Cause at the moment I wont have time to search for a heater and air pump.

    i like it a lot but i dont have ferric chloride so the hydrochloric acid and hydrogeb peroxides gotta work well]

    im probabily gonna sound like an idiot, but what exactly does this do?? you fill it up with water and...

    3 replies

    Stonehenge360. People who assemble their own electronic circuits sometimes make their own printed circuit boards as well. The process in short is something like this: You use a photo-sensitized copper-clad board, imprint the desired design, then etch using ferric chloride solution (this is where the instructable above comes into play - bubbling speeds up the etching process). You can drill the component mounting holes before or after the etching. Once ready, you can solder the components in place & so on.

    fill it up with ferric cloride, heat it up with the aquarium heater, and pump air through the solution to agitate the ferric cloride, thus making it etch faster

    Nice vertical tank! To make my etchant tank aerator I used the top of an old aerosol can glued to a piece of tubing that fit well onto its bottom. I then found another piece of tubing that fit over the first piece of tubing and stuffed the other end of that into a schrader air valve. That hooked up into one of those 12 volt air compressors for filling up tires. As far as for heating the tank I made a sort of a bain mare' arrangement for that. I used a large pyrex cassorole dish I picked up at a thrift store for like a buck. Filled the bottom of that with pebbles, the rest with water. Put in another dish, I use Stouffers entree plastic trays for the actual etchant tank. The whole casserole dish I have over this electric grill thing I found at the town dumps. I find about 100F a good temp to have ferric chloride at to etch well. I also have one of those dial/stem thermometers like for checking food temps in a test tube filled with water to keep some sort of an eye on the temperature. I am going to try the hydrogem peroxide/ hydrochloric acid mix because lately FeCl hasn't been working as well for me as I would like it to. Along with agitating the etchant, I believe the introduction of oxidizer (air) into the etchant solution is a great aid in getting a good etch. When things are going very well I could get a good etch in just a few minutes. BTW to hold the board I would drill one of the side mount holes and put a tywrap through that then I have plastic hemostats I grab the tywrap with.

    so is this to make bubbles in a fish tank?

    Dude! Kick-ass! Have you tried the 1 part hydrochloric acid : 2 parts hydrogen peroxide etchant mix? The stuff doesn't stain your fingers or nothing, and boy is it easier to get than ferric chloride!