Intro: Homemade Circuit Board From Junk! (NPCB)
Welcome! Do you want a custom circuit board for your needs? How about making that board paper thin? What about free!? This is a creation for all of you geeks, hackers and hobbyists out there! This is the Not Printed Circuit Board! (NPCB)
I don't have chemicals or copper clad or a laser printer to make a Printed Circuit Board, So, I'm going into this project with the minimum tools and supply's that any self professed geek should own.
Today, I'll teach YOU haw to make A Not Printed Circuit Board! I also plan on starting a series of tutorials called NPBC using these boards. These might include a Raspberry Pi 3 Video Adapter, Arduino, radio's and even fan suggested designs. You draw, I make. But, that's for the future.
I am only making a simple flashlight for this tutorial, but you can apply this method to any number of hacks and builds. (Notice in the pictures above that I can even bend the circuit board!) So what are you waiting for? Let's start!
Step 1: Get What You Need
Do you want a circuit board? Then you need the following.
(Pic 1) A roll of aluminum foil.
(Pic 2) Index cards. A paper plate can also be used. Just make sure that the paper is of a descent thickness.
(Pic 3) Some painter's paper tape. This is used in holding the circuit's in place.
(Pic 4) A hot glue gun. (Optional, but really helps later)
(Pic 5) A sharp knife for cutting the fragile aluminum foil.
(Pic 6) A pencil for drawing your circuit diagram.
(Pic 7) Scissors.
(Pic 8) A multimeter.
(Pic 9) Some telephone wire. Any small thin wire will do.
(Pic 10) A drawing board. (Drawing, gluing, soldering, protect-your-table block of wood)
(Pic 11) Electrical Tape.
Step 2: The Drawing Board
So what is a circuit board if it has no design? Nothing. You need:
1: An index card.
2: A pencil.
3: The Drawing Board.
(Remember, always draw thick circuits unless you are really good at cutting small and thin pieces of aluminum foil.
Take your index card, pencil and drawing board and draw the design for your circuit board. What do you need? For a simple Battery-to-LED circuit, (For example, look at Pic 2) you would need to draw the pathway for the battery, a on/off switch, and the LED. For a more complicated circuit, you would draw what was needed.
Once you have debated as to what you wish to draw, and done so, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Cut the Foil
As seen above, I drew a simple flashlight circuit. Tear off a large sheet of aluminum foil to cut away at. Notice the thick cuts for the foil in picture 2. Cut the foil with scissors or a razor for more precise cuts. Use your circuit drawing as a template. Now lay the pieces of cut foil over the drawing. Once satisfied, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Keep It Together, Man!
So you have your nice aluminum circuits ready to be used... As soon as they are held in place. Look at picture 2 to see that you must use electrical tape initially to hold the circuits in place. When that is done, add your components like an led bulb. (I got mine from a junk flashlight) Make sure that you leave any connections that you will need exposed. Tape the wires in place. (Pic 3)
When all of your circuits are held in place by the electrical tape, go ahead and cover the rest of the paper with the painter's tape. Trim off any edges that are sticking out. Notice in picture 4 and 5 that I left the battery, light bulb and on/off junctions exposed to where I can gain access to them easily later.
Picture 6 shows that you can now add any wires and secure them in place with tape. You can also use the hot glue gun to hold the wires in place. Or, if your soldering iron is available, solder them in place. Keep in mind that the aluminum is thin and likely to burn away if the soldering iron is too hot.
Add the on/off wire, battery wire and finish taping over the paper. Picture 7 shows what my completed circuit looks like. Picture 8 shows you just how thin this board really is, compared to a 9 volt battery.
Step 5: Testing
Now plug it in, and try it out! Use the multimeter to check for any loss of power in the circuits.
Step 6: Use Your Device
Now, you have a paper thin (Not) Printed Circuit Board! This was only a simple demonstration of what you can do with this easy method of making an electronic circuit board. I made mine so large for the camera. You can trim it down, come up with better ways of constructing the board, or make really complex and cool inventions with this.
I made a trip wire that i could tape flat to the wall a few years ago. It would start making a high pitched "Intruder" alarm if someone walked through my door. Sadly, it got lost in a move from my old home. But, you can make flat camera's with this, proximity sensors and a sound bugging device! This would be a viable option because it can literally fit in the pages of a book.
Above, I had to cover the LEDs because they were so bright! No electricity was lost between the battery and the bulbs.
One day I hope to use his method to make a simple computer by hand! Please share what you come up with and enjoy your day. Thanks for reading!