PCB Etching Machine. Save Money and Time....




As you can see from the picture. This is my DIY etching machine.
I constructed this etching machine almost 10 years ago(1998)...
Following step is the construction detail..... Enjoy...

Step 1: Detergent Container Being Use As Etching Container... (Recycle...)

As you can see from the picture. I am using recycle detergent container to do the etching. The detergent container measuring L=25cm X W=13cm X H=6cm. By using pen knife, cut out some of the area which is large enough for you to place your PCB into the container. Please leave some space on the edge of the container where you don't want your etching solution to spill out during etching process. This is important because the water will be disturb vigorously.

Step 2: Less Chemical Used (Ferric Chloride)

By using this method. The amount of chemical (Ferric Chloride) use is less. Take this PCB for an example. The PCB measuring 9cm X 7cm. I use a tea spoon of Ferric Chloride dilute with about 70ml water to form the etching solution. It is not necessary to submerge the entire PCB in the solution. This is because when i turn on the power, the motor will drive the etching container up and down motion which will move the water from one end to the other end and vice-versa. It tooks me about 20 minutes to finished the etching.

Step 3: Motor Drive System.

Unfortunately i am not able to show you the step by step on how i created this etching machine because i built this machine several years ago. No picture was taken back then. However, i can give you a brif explanation on how i do it.

1. First of all, i bought few of these wooden bar from local
hardware shop. As you can see from the picture, the thinner
one measuring at 12mm X 12mm and the thicker one measuring
at 26mm X 12mm.

2. Cut the 12mm X 12mm wooden bar in to 20cm length and you
need 12 of them to form the square box structure. I leave a
space of 5cm from the base of the box to form the supporing

3. Cut the 26mm X 12mm wooden bar in to 20cm length. You need 2
of those to be nail at the base of the box so that you can
secure the motor. As you can see from the picture, i use the
wire to secure the motor at the base.

4. I cut out another 12mm X 12mm wooden bar measuring at 15cm
and nail it at the side of the box. This serve to secure the
motor in the vertical manner.

5. I bought two small hinge and make the upper portion of the
etching machine measuring at 33cm X 20cm box by using the
remaining wooden bar and some creativity. This is the
portion where it will move up and down with the drive of
motor. Make sure you lift up about 3cm clearance from
the top of the box and 33cm X 20cm box and then fix the
hinge. The hinge need to be fixed at the center of the box so
that both the end can move freely up and down. As for
the 3cm spacing, you can use the remaining wooden bar and
nail them together to form the desire spacing.

6. I am using the car power window to drive this machine. As we
know that the car power window motor couple with gear head.
The gear head being specially treated and its hard. I am not
able to drill through it. So i use an aluminium bar and
split it in to half to form a semi circle bar. I drill two
holes on the aluminium bar to a spacing that is close enough
for me to put on screw so it can hold the gear head.

7. After that, i use a copper bar measuring at about 11cm with diameter of 7mm. This copper bar need to be hard enough to sustain the weight and move the upper portion of the box freely. This copper bar being fitted in between the aluminium bar and upper portion box. So as to create up and down motion.

8. As for the rest, you are on you own.....

9. You can buy the motor speed controller from local hobbist store. Any motor speed controller with 12VDC will do. But need to take care of the current handling portion. Because you don't what to cook your speed controller transistor....... The motor speed controller i used is a simple PWM with MOSFET which can handle 10A of current..... You can also get the speed controller from internet freely available.....

Do let me know if you need more pictures of this machine.... Thanks for viewing.

Step 4: Video for the Etching Process.

The video shows the etching process. Enjoy......

Do let me know if you can't view the video. I can sent the clip to you via e-mail. Thanks...


Step 5: Driving Mechanism

A close look at the driving mechanism...

Step 6: Power Window Motor and Coupling

Power Window Motor and coupling. I used two screw to secure the driving aluminium block. Its clearly shown in the picture...

Step 7: Simple PWM PCB.

I am using 555 Timer IC for the PWM motor speed controller. It can be found on the internet freely..

Step 8: Bottom View and Future Improvement. Enjoyed....

This is the bottom view of my PCB Ecthing Machine....

Thanks for viewing...

I will be adding a stopper switch and timer control in near future.
This will allow the PCB stop at a predefine position (PCB and chemical separated) and etching time to be control. This is good because one can leave the etching machine unattended until the whole process over or come back next day.



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34 Discussions

felipe magtanggol

2 years ago

can you post the shematic diagram or circuit diagram


3 years ago

thx a lot sagutric , i made it like yours, and work well nice share

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

kindly post the circuit diagram..i needed it so badly...thanks in advance


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Hi there. The battery i use is 12VDC and the current consumption for the motor about 1A or less as i am using PWM at low speed. Assuming P=IV. The power is 12Watt. Thanks.


11 years ago on Introduction

What the heck would I want to Etch my PCB's in the first place. this is the first mention I've ever heard of it? Do it remove nasty solder bits?

9 replies

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

no, etching is to prepare a plain copper pcb to be used in a project. insteadof using prototype board and jumpers, one basically draws the pattern of the circuit with permant marker on to the plan copper board, puts it in the etching solution (in this case ferric chloride) and keeps it moving for a certain amount of time. the point of this instructable is to show what one person had done so that he didn't haveto keep the solution moving, he made a machine.

and i find it hard to believe that you are putting down this man, when you yourself haven't even heard of PCB etching, when if you type it in that search box up there, you will find many instructables on it.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Good LORD are you thick. Here you are criticizing people for saying "It's my first instructable" when you haven't even written one yet. You go further and completely rail on his project when you don't know what it's for- then you blame him for being so ignorant. Get a grip! You're the problem!


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Thank You Kind SIR! I was hoping to get my first instructable done, but see I am a perfectionist to a little extent. I want it to be perfect. Pictures, Tags, Steps, tools, etc. When the economy gives an upturn and I can stop working 70 hrs a week, I'll get it done. Until Lets all have fun with the comments Box! Its for Opinions. And I do believe they are still free round these parts, part. Eat Some Today!


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

So, you demand this man a no-excuses-first-class-Instructable and then you give us a pile of your own excuses. And why would someone want a PCB etching machine? Because etching circuits by hand is too expensive and time-consuming. Get some character instead of acting tough to look like you have it.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

so to fully utilize this Instructable I have to go elsewhere to learn what the heck its for. I think you would naturally want to turn people on to this IDEA, therefore you'd want to spark interest in the Non-etchers as well as the seasoned etchers. Now that you've explained why I might want to use this, I might look at it in a more Postitive light. I never knew you could custom PCB boards without a ton of solder or a multi-million dollar factory. If you search for 5 Star Instructables you will see good ones too.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

i think the reason he didn't post <strong>how</strong> to etch is becuase there are already many good instructables on how to etch, and he might have thought it would just be extra pointless writing he would do, when people could just click on one of the many links right next to his instructable. he also probably made the assumtion(sp?) that the person would know what PCB etching is, if they somehow navigated to his instructable. <br/><br/>and if you have an interest in PCB etching try <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Stop-using-Ferric-Chloride-etchant!--A-better-etc/">this.</a> i haven't actually etched pcb's before but that one seems to be better for the enviroment and cheaper in the long run.<br/><br/>than you for responding like a civilised person, i know many people who would have freaked out on me if i said that to them.<br/>


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Hi Mate. Thanks for all your comment and advice. I really appreciate that. Thanks.


11 years ago on Introduction

nice instructable dude, good idea to save etchant! Yah, that box looks like it has been through some better days.


11 years ago on Introduction

Oops! That URL doesn't string long enough so here it is in two lines. Join them together without a space! www.pulsarprofx.com/PCB/a_Pages/5_Support/5b_ Tips_Tricks/Tips_Tricks.html


11 years ago on Introduction

Check out a much more efficient and faster way to etch at: www.pulsarprofx.com/PCB/a_Pages/5_Support/5b_Tips_Tricks/Tips_Tricks.html