How to Etch Your Own Circuit Board at Home

Introduction: How to Etch Your Own Circuit Board at Home

How to make a PCB using pre-coated positive photoresist fibreglass (FR4) board. How to develop using UV light and Potassium Carbonate solution developer. And finally etching using Ferric chloride

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    8 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    ues velum, really cheap and transparent- use it to burn Tshirt designs on a screen

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your prompt reply and for clarifying that you used Sodium Metasilicate in your developer, and not Potassium Carbonate.

    Tomorrow I will get some Anhydrous Sodium Metasilicate powder, and I will try to come up with the right concentration using the MSDS for that MEGA developer. It states that it has 33% by weight, so I'll make that solution and then dilute it with 9 parts water as you suggest. Since my chemistry knowledge is limited, I'm not sure if it makes any difference if the powder I buy is anhydrous instead of pentahydrate as I've found it's used.

    I wish I would have known about Sodium Metasilicate before I started making my own PCBs, developing them with of course, Sodium Hydroxide. I've ruined the traces of many PCBs using that. lol.

    Oh, one question:

    -Would you happen to know what effect this new developer has on a piece of aluminum? Would it dissolve it like NaOH?

    Thanks again for your reply.

    Hi Andrew,

    I tried doing this using Potassium Carbonate and it didn't work. I used 200 mL of distilled water with 4 grams of Potassium Carbonate, meaning about 2% Potassium Carbonate solution. The temperature of the developer was between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I used MG Chemicals Positive Presensitized boards. I left the board even 20 minutes in this developer and nothing happened. Are you sure you are using a POSITIVE presensitized board? Every reference I've found of using Potassium Carbonate suggested to use it on a NEGATIVE dry film.

    You also mentioned that you bought your developer from Rapid. I checked their website and the only developers they sell are those made of Sodium Hydroxide, and the Universal Developer made of Sodium Metasillicate. Are you sure it wasn't this developer that you used?

    If indeed you did use Potassium Carbonate, could you please mention the total concentration?

    Thank you for making this tutorial. I've been wanting to move away from NaOH for a long time.

    andrew mcneil
    andrew mcneil

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction
    Suitable for use with all alkaline developed, positive photo resists and fully aqueous dry film photo resists.
    Available either in dry crystalline form, sufficient to produce 500ml solution (1 litre when used with Fotoboard 2), or as 1 litre of concentrate, to make 10 litres of working solution (20 litres when used with Fotoboard 2)
    Developer gives a long tank life and fast developing time
    The shelf life of the solution is considerably greater than the crystalline form and should be kept in undiluted form in an airtight container
    Safe to use: contains no sodium hydroxide
    I have only used it in liquid form mix 9 parts water to I part solution. In this concentration it will develop the board in less than a minute.
    There is no need to use distilled water. The only reason to use distilled water is if you have a jet spray etch tank. As tap water will build up lime scale and block the jets.
    Also the tubes in my light box are uv the same as on a sunbed.
    I used to work in a large school and I made all the boards for the school ( around 6000 a year) using this method.
    Here is a link to the board I use:
    You will not find a respectable electronics supplier selling a sodium hydroxide based developer. In fact they will go out of their way to too advertise the fact that their developers do not contain sodium hydroxide.
    People have used sodium hydroxide as a developer and put videos online showing this. But it is far too aggressive to use for this and you will waste more boards using it.
    Hope this helps you.

    andrew mcneil

    hi i use a Fellows fusion A4 paper guillotine. got mine of ebay for £18. they sell them on amazon but you will get one for less of ebay.