Did you know that you can make your own printed circuit boards? With the use of common materials and by devoting a few minutes, you can already create high quality PCBs.
Here are the things you will need:
•Goggles and Gloves (Protective gear)
•Ferric Chloride (FeCl3) – You can find it in any electronic store or online
•Printable Plastic Film (Transparent)
•Ink Jet Printer
•Fine Steel Wool
•Copper PC Board
•Design your printed circuit boards.
The first thing you have to keep in mind is the design of your circuit board. With the use of computer applications, such as AutoCAD, you can plot the components and generate a design depending on the type of board you want to use. You should also be aware that there are two types of boards that you can create: either a two-sided PCB or a multilayer board. Make sure you know your board well to avoid future mishaps.
Note: Your design should have one on top and one on the bottom. Some boards have identical top and bottom designs.
After you have designed your board, you can now print it in a transparent paper. However, you should choose the right setting for printing on this specific paper for a perfect finish.
•Prepare the Printing
Go to the printing options and look for media type. Choose “transparent paper”, “photo glossy paper” or “high resolution paper”. (Whichever is available) Paper source should be in “Auto Sheet Feeder” option. Print quality should be “standard” if you only have black cartridge installed then follow the next steps. On the other hand, if you have black and white cartridges, choose high. And dismiss the next step. The color intensity should be “manual”. Set both contrast and intensity on the highest setting.
•Print the Design
After you have set the right options, you can now print your design. Some people would first print the design on a separate paper just to check if it is already okay. If you are already satisfied, then print it on the transparent paper.
Note: On the print pop up box, select “black” before hitting ok.
Make sure that you know the kind of transparent paper you bought. Some papers only have one side for printing. The correct side should feel sticky and the opposite side should be smooth like plastic. Be mindful of these things because the print will not stick on the copper board if you used the wrong side. Do not touch the design right after the printer released the paper. Let the design dry off for about 5 to 10 minutes.
•Cut the design
Cut both the top and bottom designs with proper space at the sides. (Preferably 1 to 1.5 inches) If you have printed the designs with enough space, cutting would not be difficult.
Cut your copper board based on your desired size. Make sure that the printed design will fit the board. Then remove the oxidation layer by scrubbing the top and bottom sides with fine steel wool until the surface becomes shiny.
•Embedding the Design on your Printed Circuit Boards
Turn on your iron on the highest setting. (Without steam) Place your copper board on a flat, wooden surface. Place a plain white paper on top of your copper board. Place the iron on top and wait for about 5 minutes. Remove the iron and the plain white paper on top. Slowly lower the design on top of the copper board. Make sure that the entire design is on the board. Again, place the plain white paper on top of your design and iron it for about 5 to 10 minutes until the PCB design is fully transferred on the copper board. Once you are finished, let it cool off for a few minutes and peel off the transparent paper. You can use a black permanent marker to cover broke lines.
Safety Precaution: Be careful in handling the ferric chloride. Wear goggles and gloves. And make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when etching. Read the safety instructions on the bottle to avoid any accidents.
Put a small amount of Ferric Chloride on a piece of sponge and gently wipe your board. The FeCl will wipe out the copper. When you notice the fiber glass is showing, then you are almost finished etching. Once you are finished, you can wash away the remaining solution with water and wipe it with paper towels.
Brush your copper board with a steel wool to remove oxidation. After that, you can already drill holes on your printed circuit boards.
See how printed circuit boards are easy to do at home? Save money from buying similar pieces of boards because now, you can print your boards yourself.