Creating PCB’s at home has always been a hassle. The basic methods available include manually laying out the traces with trace transfers (not recommended), photoreproduction (specialized, and expensive), or the use of a laser printer using the toner transfer method. This latter has been somewhat hit or miss for me, with variable results, until I did a bit of internet research and discovered an absolutely dynamite paper. Link. Also check out our primer in MAKE 02.
6 thoughts on “PCB Creation – Printed Circuit Boards for the Masses”
Given the wide availability of PCB services, I’ve never understood the appeal of sloshing the toxic chemicals yourself. Why deal with the mess when you can email your CAD files and get back drilled & screened boards with soldermasks and plated through holes?
It’s sort of like people who still cling to film photography and home darkrooms…
…Or home photo printing
I think the thing with this is that it is expensive to get PCBs done by online or mail order services from CAD files, it takes days, and normaly $30-$40 for a small board, plus shipping. It would become economical once you have a scaled economy, but for the maker, building an occasional PCB for some random bit of inspired project, it is an expense.
Doing it at home is cheaper (by a long way), and gets sooner results. I agree that the toxicity of the chemicals is a problem, and not everyone has a laser printer (Inkjets are far more common).
I suppose in the same light, eMachineShop is a great way to get decent parts custom built, but they are also very expensive, prohibitively so to a home or small business tinkerer.
Hopefully – we will see PCBs, or an equivalent become easier to make and more maker friendly in the future, ie like home photo printing.
OrionRobots.co.uk – Build Robots
The joy of doing something yourself. Although with the costs, it is becoming impractical.
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