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Topic: Easiest way to make small thru-hole PCBs at home (Read 4479 times) previous topic - next topic

Wawa

I used to do all the above.
All the chemicals, expensive photo board, the work, the mess, and the mediocre result.
Now I use EagleCAD lite (free), and email the Gerbers to a board house in Hong Kong.
Perfect result. US$10 for TEN 50x50mm single side or double sided boards and US$12 for ten 100x100 boards.
Plus ~$15 freight for 1-3 sets.
You can have your boards the size you want, or panelise them if you want more.
It was nice to know how you can make boards, but I will never go back to the old way.
Leo..




mcnobby

I have had limited success with Press-N-Peel blue heat transfer paper, my laser printer ran out of toner, it eas doing great until I replaced the cartridged, after which I couldnt get a single board to transfer from the Press-N-Peel paper.. even with adjustments to time/temperature/blood-pressure/beer !


Then I discovered some paper on eBay, I bought 10 sheets for £0.99p inc delivery from china

I was sceptical about if it would work at all for that price, but it was perfect ! where the PnP failed the cheap chinese copy worked at a fraction of the price

I am now not bothered about trying out new designs, mainly becuase if I waste the chinese paper it is so cheap it doesnt matter, the PnP was quite pricey (about 15-20 times the cost per sheet !)

Chinese Ebay alternative to PnP

DrAzzy

#17
Mar 31, 2015, 10:13 pm Last Edit: Mar 31, 2015, 10:17 pm by DrAzzy
I couldn't get the chinese toner transfer paper to go through my printer, and when I finally did, i couldn't get it off the board without it ripping up the toner-covered sections.

I used to do all the above.
All the chemicals, expensive photo board, the work, the mess, and the mediocre result.
Now I use EagleCAD lite (free), and email the Gerbers to a board house in Hong Kong.
Perfect result. US$10 for TEN 50x50mm single side or double sided boards and US$12 for ten 100x100 boards.
Plus ~$15 freight for 1-3 sets.
You can have your boards the size you want, or panelise them if you want more.
It was nice to know how you can make boards, but I will never go back to the old way.
Leo..
There are all sorts of prototyping houses that we can use. Dirtypcbs will do $14 for 50x50, $25 for 100x100 shipped, ~10 pcs! Plus at least as much again if you want the boards in a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months.

OSH is more expensive, but faster, includes ENIG, and domestic (and fabulous) - you get the boards in a couple of weeks.

Making PCBs at home, my chemical cost is pennies (reusable etchant), copper-clad is cheap (toner transfer), the results are good enough for simple things, and I can have a single-sided board in a couple of hours. It's the last part that's really key in making home etching appealing to me. It doesn't replace sending things out to a fab house, but for cheap, single-sided boards, it's great, especially when you need them to continue on your project. You lose the inertia on a project when you need to wait weeks for the boards.
ATTinyCore and megaTinyCore for all ATtiny, DxCore for DA/DB-series! github.com/SpenceKonde
http://drazzy.com/package_drazzy.com_index.json
ATtiny breakouts, mosfets, awesome prototyping board in my store http://tindie.com/stores/DrAzzy

Wawa

Started off with hand drawing pads and sticking 1mm wide paper tape on bare boards.
Then letraset pads and tracks rubbed onto the bare boards.
Then letraset on transparent inch paper, and spraying/baking photoresist on bare boards.
Then press 'n peel. Ughhh. 
Now I use mostly doublesided boards with SMD parts and ~10mil tracks, and can't get a good results at home with that.
I have had zero problems with Smart Prototyping.
Boards are shipped within a few days.
I always use slow/cheap post. That always takes two weeks to New Zealand.
I always have received the order within 3 weeks.
Leo..


nickgammon

I tried the laser printing onto sheets, hot transfer and etch process. I worked OK, but the big problem was getting the holes drilled. If you are mounting a through-hole part and the holes don't line up (even by a small amount for a 24-pin socket) you may as well give up.

Next time I think I'll use a board production house, if I can get my mind around the complexity of the layout programs.

Now that I've got more luck with SMD soldering, a simpler method might be to do a single-sided board with everything on the top, then you don't have to drill any holes. :)
Please post technical questions on the forum, not by personal message. Thanks!

More info: http://www.gammon.com.au/electronics

CrossRoads

#20
Apr 01, 2015, 07:00 am Last Edit: Apr 01, 2015, 07:00 am by CrossRoads
Let me know if you need help Nick. I've had lots of practice.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

nickgammon

I might take you up on that. It's a bit mind boggling. I've got Eagle installed (I remember trying to use it a few years ago). Once you get up to the 20th layer you get a bit overwhelmed.

And then there is the issue of not just having something that looks nice on the screen but actually works if you send it off to a board house.
Please post technical questions on the forum, not by personal message. Thanks!

More info: http://www.gammon.com.au/electronics

Shpaget

I have to agree with DrAzzy.
Toner transfer is just too fast to be neglected. Most of my projects are single boards, and only sometimes two or three. My largest run was about 20 boards, but in that case the board was absolutely tiny (10 x 6 mm), so again, only one etching process.
After I finish the design, the printing takes minutes. Ironing is also fast (it takes more for the iron to heat up than to actually iron).
As for the cost, 1,2 m2 of vinyl cost me around $6 (and you can make a lot of boards from that sheet). I etch with hydrochloric acid (36%) and peroxide (30%). I "liberated" a bottle of each for free from my mum's lab and reuse it. I expect those to last me a long time.

As Nick says, drilling is the tricky part, but I've learned that using 0 Ohm SMD resistors for jumpers significantly reduces the number of holes. I try to use SMD as much as I can. For the stuff that needs to be through hole, I use slightly larger pads with smaller holes and tin them before drilling. This adds a layer of solder that guides the drill bit to the center of the pad. I use carbide bits from ebay and a very old (and a bit wobbly) drill press. If one or two holes do end up misaligned, in almost all cases pins can be persuaded to go through. I also use slightly oversized holes (if a lead snugly fits in a 0,8mm hole, I dill 0,9mm or 1mm).

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