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Ready to brew my own PCB's

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UTMonkey

New Member
Well as the title says, I am at the stage where I would like to have a crack at etching my own PCB.

Could you take a look at the following list and tell me if I am missing something, some bits may seem a bit extravagant but I want to ensure that any problems are because of lack of experience and not having the "right tools".

Processing Tray
Ferric Chloride Etchant
Tin Plating Crystals
Etch Resist Pen
Universal Solvent
PCB Board
Polifix Block
Press-n-Peel
Thermometer
Gloves
Safety Glasses

What do you think? I was wondering about what might be the best container to store the Ferric Chloride and Crystals - any ideas?

Many thanks

Mark
 
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user_88

Member
I would think that a special bottle used for photo-developing chemicals would be suitable for the ferric chloride. A glass container might work, if it is not photo-sensitive.

Just a suggestion ... not experience related.
 

crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
So what container do you use to store a "Universal Solvent"?
 

3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
I would think that a special bottle used for photo-developing chemicals would be suitable for the ferric chloride. A glass container might work, if it is not photo-sensitive.

Just a suggestion ... not experience related.
The liquid feric chloride from radio shack comes in a plastic bottle. Storing it in a metal bottle would be a bad move.
 

jbeng

Member
3v0 said:
Storing it in a metal bottle would be a bad move.
Especially if the bottle is aluminum ... or copper :D

I've stored my NaOH developer and ferric chloride solutions in translucent HDPE bottles for years, never had a problem.

Jeff
 

HarveyH42

Banned
I use a quart size bottle from engine oil (had a leaky car, always laying around), rinsed it out very well. Just seemed like the most chemical resistant container on hand, and I want to etch...

Cheap food containers work well for etching trays. Mostly use them to sort and store parts, but it was about the right size for the boards I etch, and had plenty on hand.

I use toner transfer, a little touch up sometimes with a Sharpie marker. They come in an extra fine point now, bought a couple at Walmart when I saw them about a month ago, but haven't needed them yet. Should have written something on my last set of boards, just to see if the work as well.

Thermometer? Seldom drops below 70 degrees here in Florida.

Solvent, I use Acetone. Cheap, easy to find, and works for most things, even plastic repair... Still have half the can I bought 5 years ago, and use it for a lot of stuff besides electronics.
 

AlainB

Member
You will need some drills to finish your PCB. You will have to be very good to make these holes just holding a dremel in your hands. A holder that convert it as a drill press is better.

Before I was using my big drill press that spin at a maximum of 10 000 RPM. It was working pretty well. Never broke a bit. Now I use a small CNC machine that I assembled from parts found here and there and I drill my holes as the first step, before toner transfer and etching.

Alain

 

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whiz115

Member
what kinds of drill bits you recommend for drilling PCBs? recently i bought a titanium coated one...because the usual black drill bits don't last for more than 2-3 boards... if i don't brake them...they become less sharp and they don't drill as fast as they did...

i have also ordered some cobalt ones...
 

Mr RB

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your suggestions, what do you think of my shopping list?
A very fine tip waterproof sharpie pen, will make finer lines and finer detail touch ups than the PCB pen in those few places you might need it.

A bottle (or 2) of cheap fast dry nail varnish, cheaper than the PCB pen and better/faster for large coverage like ground planes etc. Washes off in acetone and you can also use it for fixing tiny screws, trimpots etc.

If using pressnpeel I really recommend spending $25 on a cheap laminator even if you have to mod it to turn the heat up a bit.
 

AlainB

Member
what kinds of drill bits you recommend for drilling PCBs? recently i bought a titanium coated one...because the usual black drill bits don't last for more than 2-3 boards... if i don't brake them...they become less sharp and they don't drill as fast as they did...

i have also ordered some cobalt ones...
These are carbide drill bits. You can find them easily on EBay. Just look for PCB drills. They are often used and resharpened but I think they are still very good.

Mine are comming from a local flea market. It is possible that they have been resharpened too. As far as the size, I use almost only the bit #63. It is the smallest that I have. I use that size for all the PCB holes and I use the reamers that you see in the picture if some holes are too small.

#63 is very small but sometimes, not small enough. I think that the #68 would be better for IC's.

Alain
 
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jbeng

Member
I would recommend using the Sharpie Industrial instead of the regular Sharpie. I say this because I used to plot boards using regular Sharpies in a flatbed plotter years ago and they worked great. Several recent attempts to use them gave me barely usable boards as the ink washed off (not completely) and the traces were nearly etched away. I can only guess that the ink has been reformulated. I now use the Industrial version with the same plotter and get great results.

Jeff
 

BrownOut

Banned
In my last attempt to created fine-pitch PBC, I had a problem while attempting to drill the pads. The process drilling tended to tear the pad away from the board, runing all my hard work. I though it might be better to drill before etching.

Am I the only one who has that problem?
 

AlainB

Member
I would recommend using the Sharpie Industrial instead of the regular Sharpie. I say this because I used to plot boards using regular Sharpies in a flatbed plotter years ago and they worked great. Several recent attempts to use them gave me barely usable boards as the ink washed off (not completely) and the traces were nearly etched away. I can only guess that the ink has been reformulated. I now use the Industrial version with the same plotter and get great results.

Jeff
Yes, the Sharpie Industrial is better.

Unfortunately, they don't make the extra fine tip anymore. Last fall, I phone to the Company because I could not find it in Montreal and they confirmed that fact to me. It is discontinued!

Too bad! But my informations are from last fall. Maybe they started to make them again! Who knows!

Alain
 
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jbeng

Member
AlainB said:
It is discontinued!
I hope they didn't discontinue the extra-fine tip. Did you mean the ultra fine tip (with a metal nib)? I would prefer to use that one, but I've never seen them. I just a checked couple sites online and saw the extra fine tip industrial for about $1.25 US each or a case of 12 for $12-13 US.

BrownOut said:
The process drilling tended to tear the pad away from the board...
I've had this happen when the drill bits are dull. Also high rpms are a must. Are you using the same type of carbide bits as in AlainB's photo or are they normal steel bits? Steel bits dull quickly drilling pcb's.
Also, how much copper is to be left around the finished hole? If the pad is only slightly larger than the drill, the copper can easily be torn off during drilling.

Jeff
 
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BrownOut

Banned
I hope they didn't discontinue the extra-fine tip. Did you mean the ultra fine tip (with a metal nib)? I would prefer to use that one, but I've never seen them. I just a checked couple sites online and saw the extra fine tip industrial for about $1.25 US each or a case of 12 for $12-13 US.


I've had this happen when the drill bits are dull. Also high rpms are a must. Are you using the same type of carbide bits as in AlainB's photo or are they normal steel bits? Steel bits dull quickly drilling pcb's.

Jeff
I use high-speed steel bits. They are made to drill a variety of metals.
 

AlainB

Member
I hope they didn't discontinue the extra-fine tip. Did you mean the ultra fine tip (with a metal nib)? I would prefer to use that one, but I've never seen them. I just a checked couple sites online and saw the extra fine tip industrial for about $1.25 US each or a case of 12 for $12-13
I just check the Sharpie site:

Sharpie® | Sharpie Industrial Fine & Extra Fine

It is said that the extra fine is available. I will call them next week to see and get the latest news.

Alain
 

Wp100

Well-Known Member
Hi Mark,

Will just add views if I may..

From your list,

The developing tray - stores like Wilco have loads of different sized plastic pet litter trays for pennies and cheap themometers

The tin plate crystals - have never used them, but from what I have read in ET posts they are either rather nasty chemical to use and / or very expensive.
Tinning with your iron can do a good job, or solder the items on the board as soon as, then use a pcb spray to stop the copper oxidising.

Buy a fine point Permanent Marker like the CD pens sold in Staples etc - they are good for touching up broken tracks proir to etching

A little bottle of pure Acetone from larger chemists / supermarkets for about £1.30 is a good solvent /cleaner.

The Ferric Chloride, if you can buy from Farnells or Megga, then Meggas 5lts of Ferric at about £20 + carriage is far better value and its just ready to use - well needs a little water for copper actually - about 6lts really. It last for years so will be fine stored in its plastic bottle.

PCB drill /s -the tungsten are better, but standard ones will also do the job.
I've haven't got a high speed drill, just use one of the old bench pillar drills.
For starters 0.8mm, 1.0mm and 1.2mm are handy sizes .

Press and peel - works ok-ish, used it for a few years, until I found you could laser onto magazine paper - which actually gave better result than P&P.

However with both of them if you start, as Iam sure you will, doing really fne tracks for micros and some smd parts, then trying to hold them with the papers is very difficult. Even with a fine point touch up pen you cannot easily make good two t12 tracks close to each other.

As I've started to move onto finer work, I've found the only way is the UV method, sounds expensive, at the end of the day it does cost a little more but you would never get the results without it. Can send you details of my led uv system if interested.. might be something to progress onto after the P&P / paper method - all the etching stuff is just the same so nothing will be wasted - I still use the paper stuff for 'heavy' circuits like psu's etc.

hope some of that helps you...
 

AlainB

Member
I called the Sanford Company and they confirmed to me that the Sharpie Industrial Extra Fine marker is discontinued.

Alain
 
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