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Finally I etched my first board but... :/

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patroclus

New Member
Today I etched my first board. But there was a problem. I used a stadtler lumocolor 313 permanent, but after 20 minutes in Ferric Clorhidre (100 ml water, 40g Ferric), I saw that the drawed line were being erased (! ) :?
So I took out the board and washed it in clean water. Well.. the board still has lines on it, as well as some copper, and there's continuity almost from any part to another... What happend? Bad pen? Bad mixture?
Should I draw again and take it to ferric for 10 minutes more?...
Should I get another pen (let's say Edding 2000) ?

It seemed easy but don't know what to do now.
Thanks for any help in advance.
 

Johnson777717

New Member
I use black "Sharpie" brand permanent markers for marking the PCB. For some reason, these seem to be the best for PCB work. I don't know of any other markers that will work. Also, after marking, you may want to let the ink dry for a couple of hours. Even though the ink feels dry, it still needs time to fully cure, or "harden" so to speak.

What I would do with your almost etched board is to rinse it off in water for a little bit, then use solvent to clean everything off including the markings, and start over. Make sure that the PCB is extremely clean or the marker wont properly adhere to the copper surface, which could lead to poor leads and pads. See if you can salvage the board this way. If not, I would suggest starting over. Make sure that you go back over your markings over and over again, to make sure that the ink is on pretty thick. Dabbing the ink onto the already drawn lines works pretty good because it wont create streak marks.

Also, did you warm the Ferric Chloride up before placing the PCB in to etch? You don't need to boil the Ferric Chloride, but a warm mixture works a lot quicker than room temperature Ferric Chloride. As you may have learned, the ink isn't going to last forever in the bath of Ferric Chloride, so having a quick working solution (Warmed up) is to your advantage.

Finally, by agitating (Rocking, or carefully swishing) the container while the PCB is in being etched works well too. This removes the already etched copper "layers" as the Ferric Chloride works to etch the board.

As with anything, the first try isn't going to really turn out the best, but with continual trials, and getting used to the process, you'll begin to learn the tricks. Don't give up, making nice boards using this process is possible. :D
 

Brocktune

New Member
Try this:

www.expresspcb.com

You can layout your traces with their software, then send them the file and they will make 3 prototype PCB's for you for only $70.

(To get the $70 deal, the boards have to be 3" x 5")
 

patroclus

New Member
Thanks to all respones. About other drawing methods, I like the pen's one, and I want to start with this, as I know many people get bvery nive results, as Johnson777717 says.
Johnson777717, I will follow your advices and try to save the board. This made me feel a little bit bad, but as you said is my first time. I'm gonna have a shower and start working ;)

Ah! What about the mixture? You think 40g is not enough for 100ml water?? At least, I hardly could see the board inmersed..

thanks again.
 

Johnson777717

New Member
Yeah, it does feel bad when things don't work out like they should. Try not to lose hope though.

I think that your mixture is okay, I think the ink from the pen that you used wasn't strong enough to stand up against the Ferric Chloride. Try a "Sharpie" marker and see how it works.

Also, if you're not sure about your mixture, try a test piece. You can cut a small square of PCB, or use a scrap piece of PCB with the copper still on it. Then you can draw a couple lines on the PCB, let it dry and cure, then test it out in your Ferric Chloride mixture. See what happens.

Good luck :D
 

vaineo

New Member
The above method is how i make my pcb's. Just make sure that the copper is very clean before you draw on it, I use a very fine piece of steal wool but that might not be the best method. After you draw the pattern on you should let it dry a little and go over it a second time. Make sure you don't put the pcb in the water before you add the Ferric Cloride. And llike the said use warm water and agitate it continuously.
 

patroclus

New Member
Ups, I did put the board into water just before I took it to the ferric clorhidre container. Anyway, I' already drawed the lines again, and tomorrow I'll try to etch it and see if I can save the pcb.
By the way, the board just now seems to have big areas without copper, but my polimeter detect continuity.. It may be stupid question but.. how do I know there's no copper at all?
 

ParticleMan

New Member
I recently etched a board in Ferric Chloride, except it took 3 hours to fully etch. Could this be because the FeCl was old? Or was there something wrong that I was doing?
 

patroclus

New Member
3 hours?
I think that is TOO much. Maybe the mixture was old or you esed it many times, or just you put so little Ferric.
The lines were still there after 3 hours??
 

patroclus

New Member
Eh, it worked :)
After 15 more minutes, al copper was gone and the lines were still there.
But the first try did bad things. Some lines are partially broken, though my polimeter tells me that there's still conduction. I suppose I'll try to drill, and If I succed, I'll try to repair the defective lines with solder.

By the way... any advice for the drilling part? I've never done it before.. at least not with 1mm and this small. I have a Dremel tool, and some 1mm drill bits for metal. But I have no vertical support or press...
 

Johnson777717

New Member
Wow, three hours. Was the Ferric Chloride warm and did you swish it around during that time? This helps emmensely.

As far as drilling, I don't have a press or a stand to drill my holes, I simply drill them normally, as you would with any hole. Here's some tips:

1. If you're finding that the drill bit is traveling off of the point that you want to drill, use a small screw driver, or similar item to make a center punch. Use hand pressure to make the indentation of where you want to drill, before you drill. Don't pound on the screw driver because you may crack the board. This should help keep the drill bit in one place, while you start drilling.

2. Drilling with a dremel tool works well.

3.Try using a flat piece of wood to place the PCB on while you are drilling, that way you dont ruin the surface that you're drilling on in case you accidentally drill through too far.

4. Drill slowly and smoothly with the dremel at a medium RPM. Apply only a little pressure while drilling, the drill bit will do the rest of the work. This will create nice holes with the least amount of burrs.

5. Drill from the copper side, through to the uncopper side. This way, the burrs will end up on the uncopper side, and wont mess up the pads that you have spent time etching.
 

patroclus

New Member
Johnson777717 Thanks, all went just fine. the only difficulty is making the drill bit not bounce when it touches the surface. One way of solving this is to put the drill bit on the surface before you turn it on. The only problem is that you have to start/stop continually the drill, but works great.

I had some problems fixing the defective lines with solder, because it sticks to the copper not filling the "holes" (tiny, though). I used flux, but didnt get much better. I hope it works. Now is just solder the components.
 

patroclus

New Member
I started soldering the components but this is getting hard, because solder sticks to the iron, and it's hard to do a good joint. So far, the few joints I've done are not great, and I have to use the iron more as a paint-brush than as a iron :)
As we all know, this is not good. Before I used PCB, in universal perforated boards, all joints came out clean and good. Maybe it's because the copper pads are quite small, and the drill holes 1mm (maybe too big),...

Now I cannot solve the problem but, is there something I can do in order to get better soldering joints? thnks.
 

vaineo

New Member
I'm not sure if it's the same for you, but when the solder only sticks to the iron with me it's because the area i'm trying to solder to isn't hot enough.

Also did you clean the board real good after you etched it?
 

patroclus

New Member
Yes, the board was perfectly clean.
About the temperature, I can stick the iron tip to both parts, the component leg and the copper pad, for 5 or 6 seconds, and still. When I have to solder diodes, I cannot wait more than that..
 

vaineo

New Member
well you could use a heat sink on the diode if thats becomming a problem, have you tryed using some flux too.

Also i'm not sure if it matters, but how thick is your solder, I use 0.8mm with the flux in the core. and a 23W iron.

Other than that, i'm not sure why its not sticks, might want to try cleaning and tinning the irons tip.
 

patroclus

New Member
I use 1mm solder, and two irons, depending, 14W or 30W. Bot work more or less the same. Flux seems to ge things a little easier, but not much...
Iron tips are always clean and tined.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
It sounds as if your board isn't clean enough, copper is an exceptionally easy material to solder, but it needs to be clean. If you are having problems, it's obviously not clean.

How have you tried to clean it?.
 
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