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New guy to electronics

Thread starter #1
Hello, I am a retired engineer (not electrical), live in the UK and have started with electronics as a hobby.
I stumbled on this site by accident and was impressed with the wealth of information it holds.


Well-Known Member
Hola Prof,

Any project in progress?
Thread starter #5
Thanks guys.
I am working on my first project, a scoring machine for the game of darts.
I decided to base it on an atmega 328, and maxim 7219.
Bought display 7 segment leds, an arduino uno, maxim 7219 etc.
Patched up a prototype using veroboards and programmed the arduino, and now it works just fine, even makes a sound if user errors and plays a tune for a win.
Now working on the physical construction.
Made the keypads, using Cherry MX keyboard switches mounted through 1.5mm aluminium plate.
Made the front panel from the side of an old computer case.
Cut and fitted red tinted perspex in the display windows I had cut out.
Working on trying to make the circuit boards at the moment.
Thread starter #7
Blatant advertising link removed - Moderator
Wow impressive web site, thank you Downey Jin that is very kind and generous of you.

I am really struggling with the pcb fabrication, well to be precise the etching of the boards. I am using a combination of hydrochloric acid and peroxide with mixed success, when I have a new mix it works fine but a second attempt the next day and it is extremely slow.

I am using DipTrace to draw the layout, mostly manually routed traces, and have learnt the hard way because of the slow etch I have had to rethink my trace widths to make them as wide as possible to allow for some undercutting due to the slow etch.

It seems to me that in order to make precise boards you need a fast etch process, so my first question would be what etchant do you use ?

Any tips you can give me would be appreciated.

I am new to electronics and am trying this out for the first time, at the moment I feel out of my depth, but I will persevere.

Thanks for the kind offer.
Last edited by a moderator:


Well-Known Member
Welcome prof!
Your first project sounds pretty impressive - I'm assuming you have programming in your background!
The "standard" stuff to use as etchant is ferric chloride, which is a naturally occurring salt which very usefully dissolves copper. Harmless when new, but the copper makes it toxic so it's nasty to dispose of. Makes brown/yellow stains too. From what I've read the hydrochloric / peroxide mix is the future, especially for hobbyists. There's a growing body of knowledge about it on the web, you just have to hunt. There's a few tutorials about it on www.instructables.com.
Don't worry too much about undercutting unless you are doing very fine traces or it's taking hours.
Thread starter #9
Thanks throbscottle, yes I have used programming going way back to teletypes and paper tapes, basic, fortran, visual basic, now c++, also used html and css for web pages.
I had seen that instructable which prompted me to try it out.
Here is a picture of my project in all its glory, or lack of it at the moment, made the enclosure today.
Thread starter #10

OK so my first project in my new hobby of electronics is complete.

I am not sure I enjoyed the whole experience, although the enjoyable parts outweighed the frustrating parts I think.

By far the worst, most expensive, and messy aspect was trying and failing repeatedly to etch photo sensitised circuit boards.

I’ve since bought a hp laserjet 1320 to try the other toner transfer methods, so I can try ordinary clad board.

Yes, I also made a lot of silly mistakes, for example in designing the circuit board to hold the microprocessor and led display driver I changed two pin numbers on the micro-controller simply for track routing convenience, but completely forgot to make the change in the software. So when I came to switch it on nothing at all happened and had me scratching my head until I remembered.

I think I need to start more basic projects as I feel well out of my depth when things don’t work as planned.


Well-Known Member
Really very impressed :) Well done! Most of us started with much simpler things...

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