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Sweden
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Hello,

I would really like to be able to make my own PCBs, but I'm not allowed to do what at home because of the corrosion(i think thats the name) and I don't have any other place to do that in.

Does anyone know any OTHER way to do custom PCBs?

Jan

P.S. PCB services won't work because they are to expansive for me.
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Phoenix, Arizona USA
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You can route a PCB using a CNC machine.

You could also route it by hand with a dremel tool and some patience - but it will be ugly, and the by-hand process isn't suitable for fine-pitch components.

Is the concern over the need for corrosive chemicals itself, or because of ferric chloride in particular? Because there are other means than ferric chloride (which is pretty nasty stuff), but they all require some form of corrosive chemical to work.

One method which I have seen used to make parts out of thin metal plate, and could possibly be used for etching a circuit board, is electrolysis. The only issue is that all areas that need to be removed must in some way stay connected during the process. I'm not sure how well it would work for PCBs, but I've seen the results for sheet metal parts in which the component layout was transferred to the metal via the toner-transfer method, so something like that may work. Copper sulfate would be needed, though (which is poisonous, but fairly safe when handled properly - just don't eat it - its sold as root killer, btw). You'd also need a hefty power supply.
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Torino, Italy
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I get my PCBs here: http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order  .. that's pretty cheap..
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Sweden
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Fabio: Would be great if I lived in the US and not in Sweden. The shipping costs and customs would be to high.

cr0sh: 1. What's a CNC machine? 2. I will try with my dremel as soon as I can get my hands on some boards. 3. Yes, the problem is the corrosive. 4. Has someone tested that "electrolysis" with PCBs?

Thanks for the answers,
Jan
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CNC - Computer Numerical Control - in this case a dremel mounted on an XY frame, so the computer mills the grooves between the teacks. They can usually take the Gerber files generated by your pcb-layout program
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Let me guess. CNC machines cost more then if I would use a PCB service 10 years? :-)

JanD
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Torino, Italy
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Nope, shipping costs and customs are cheap.. I'm in Italy and I get my PCBs there..

"International mailing is a flat rate of $15 for USPS Priority Mail, or $5 for standard first class" .. That's nothing.
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About how much do you usually pay for 160mm/100mm (euroboard) including shipping and customs? So I have something to compare with.

Jan
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Torino, Italy
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$5 per square inch, plus the above shipping, no customs.. do your math.

Quality is impressive: http://www.varesano.net/files/IMG_0946.JPG
http://www.varesano.net/blog/fabio/freeimu-alive
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 07:42:22 pm by Fabio Varesano » Logged

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Depending on how complex it is, you could use stick-on copper tape and just layout your design that, soldering all the joints together when done.  You can buy sheets of prepunched holes, tape in various widths regular foil if want to cover a broad area.
Here is an example to give you some ideas about terms to search to find a supplier in your area.

http://www.web-tronics.com/cf-2.html

I don't know what you're making, but I wirewrap a lot of my projects together as the expense of doing a 1-time PCB is either not worthwhile, or too time consuming when I was working full time (solved by being laid off recently, which brings me back to point #1!).
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Fabio: No customs? So only $5/inch + $5 shipping? I think they are going to get some orders soon.

CrossRoads: I have already looked on such tape, but it seamed not as a good idea because I have some designs what are quiet complex.

Thanks for the help everyone!
Jan
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Who is telling you that corrosion is the problem? If you use ferric chloride solution, you can stick your hand in it with no bad effects (other than staining your hand yellow!). PCB etchants are designed specifically to work on metals, not flesh. You don't stick your hand in PCB etchant and only pull back the bones, like it was a tank of piranhas!

The worst that could happen is you stain some carpet yellow.
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I don't know, it's' my dad who says corrosion is the problem.

JanD
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I can imagine people not wanting chemicals like that in the house.
It doesn't have to be dangerous in all aspects, it's still a hazardous chemical.
If I would do stuff like that at home, I would probably take it out to the shed and leave it there. That way if it spills or anything, all that happens is my shed going yellow.
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I do mine on the stainless steel sink in the kitchen.
Ceramic sinks would be just as resistant in case of spills.
I do my etching in sealed food containers to prevent spills.
You can leave the chemicals in the sealed container till you need them again.
Food grade plastics are proof against the etchants just make sure anything used is marked "not for food use".

Ive seen no staining or marking on the surfaces and as its on the drainer if anything does spill its easy to dilute and wash down the sink.

Gordon
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