home made boards

Hi :slight_smile: for informational purposes, and future reference, I need insight into transfering the printed circuit board tracks onto a blank pcb for etching..

Now options that are a no no for me are: laser printer toner. we have a inkjet printer, and that is it. so th eiron on toner trick is a no go.

to put it bluntly, i have a sharpie pen, and chemical etchetant. I have to draw my boards by hand, and scratch the overlaps with a sharp soldering tool tip (not an iron, some sharp pointy thing). and no ordering custom boards from an online company either.

I have made a few boards already this way, one of them housing an atmega168 to drive a servo.
Another for a rs232 to ttl converter (its on my forum), and another for my R2 robot im making(its only a bridge atm with power distrib).

But as i progress things are gonna get more complicated and the risk of pitting and undercutting will be greater and less acceptable.

are there any suggestions that will help me, and any other people trying to get round this, that can be given?


To use the toner transfer method you don't have to own a laser printer. You can print with inkjet and make a photocopy (Xerox) on glossy paper, or transparency. It's inexpensive.

But if you want to make a lot of similar boards you can use silk screen method (the same used to paint t-shirts, with a different ink), or its variation without the screen.

There are many sites with this kind of info.

the cheapest and easiest would be preferable :smiley:

I guess you'd have to have more patience than me, but you could print it out on an inkjet, then use a scalpel / hobby knife to cut out all the traces, then put the page over your board and fill in the exposed areas using the sharpie.

I think Adilson is right though - would be easiest to find a photocopier in a local library, or just ask a local print shop - they would do a single A4 page for a few cents.

i thought about, and quikly dissmissed :D, the scalpel method :smiley:

I've tried just about every method from drawing the pattern with an etch-resist pen (turns out there's no such thing), to photoresist to toner transfer.

Toner transfer worked quite well (I only ever used the blue press'n'peel). I wouldn't recommend any of the others, but for all the effort (don't forget drilling the holes) and how sloppy the final result works, the only way I'd even consider now is a professional boardhouse.

For a 1-off, it's easier to just use perf board than to go through the hassle of making a board, and if I want several a place like gold phoenix is quite cheap.

i only have plain one sided copper clad board

i cant get anything else right now. i dont mass produce boards anyway :slight_smile: not atm :smiley:

Any special reason you're not just using perfboard? It works fine for me with "production runs" of 1 to 10 items.

I saw info about special papers, but here in Brazil we don't have nothing like this to buy. So my choice is inkjet (or directly from digital file to) photocopy using transparency (I've heard another guy here that used glossy paper or Couche Paper), and iron to transfer. My tip is to make at least 6 copies (you can put many "boards" in one A4 paper, to just pay one copy), and test with different timming, temperature,...

I used 1.5 to 2 minutes in higher iron temperature, or 4 or 5 minutes in 20% or 30% temperature level (I think this last is better). Let it get cool, and remove the transparency/paper. If not good, remove the toner with a steel straw, and try again, changing the time/temperature.

The correct timing temperature can be achieved when the toner don't melt (too hot/too much time) or it doesn't transfer (too cold/too little time). Small defects are acceptable: you can use a pen (for transparencies) to redraw the defective wires/pads.

Good luck.

Any special reason you're not just using perfboard? It works fine for me with "production runs" of 1 to 10 items.

I got a kit from Maplin wen i was living in the uk, that had a tray, feric cloride, a pen, and some sheets of board.. it was the cheapest and all i could get at the time. I have the board and pen remaining, (the FC got left behind after it was ruined by my bro)

there is nothing wrong wit tis board :slight_smile: and i quite laike making my own pcb this way since i am using a better etchetant :slight_smile: (cupric copper cloride?)

its just the marking out of the tracks, and etching without pitting and stuff, i can only draw so well :smiley: