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Circuit board etchingJan 2014
In the course of building my All Terrain Vehicle (A.T.V.), I've mastered the art of photo-resist circuit board etching. To share my experience with the world, I produced a video tutorial which covers the process from the beginning to the end.
To reach more viewers I uploaded a german and an english version. Here is the english tutorial:
Q&A from the comments
Q: Can you tell me what to store the Ferrous Chloride in?
A: I put it in a glas container with a lid. The FeCl itself comes in a thick, opaque plastic bottle, so that should work as well.
Q: Which gloves do you recommend?
A: I recommend gloves gloves that are rugged, not the one-time-use gloves. These are thinner and are punctured more easily.
Q: Which developer did you use?
A: I use the Bungard 72110 developer. A 10g pack is enough for several PCBs. Link to the product
Q: How and on what do you print the circuit?
A: On standard printable transparencies for overhead projectors. Use an inkjet printer with ink-dispensing set on maximum.
Q: How hard is this for a beginner?
A: When I etched my first PCBs it took a couple tries until I had a usable PCB. As a beginner you not only need to get to know the process of etching but also need to design your circuits in a CAD program. That is why I recommend that for your first attempts you try to etch a black and transparent pixel image onto your raw PCB. This way you can perfect your etching skills before learning how to use a CAD program.
Q: Where and how to I dispose of the chemicals?
A: The etchant and the developer are hazardous waste and need to be disposed of properly. Your local waste facility should have a drop-off for this kind of waste. I recommend you collect the used etchant and developer in large bottles so you don't need to make as many trips.
Q: Is a homemade PCB as solderable as a perfboard?
A: Yes. A freshly made PCB is actually easier to solder than a perfboard which has been laying around for a while (and has oxidised).
Q: How much will a homemade PCB cost me?
A: That is a good question. It depends on the size. I will calculate for a 4 inch by 3 inch PCB (using the products from Jameco which are listed in the description of the english video):
- The raw PCB: $7
- The developer: $3
- 6oz of Ferrous Chloride: $5 (is enough for 3 such PCBs, can be stored in enclosed container for longer periods of time)
This is without tinning the PCB and omitting the tools which are reusable. The price per PCB then is around $15. As you can conclude from the parenthesis, the price per PCB will go down if you make several at once.