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Circuit board etching

Jan 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:

English version

Direct link

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):

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.