Easy to follow guide on making PCB by using photo etching method

Still struggling with various PCB making technologies and cannot do it right, you should try Photo Etching method which is becoming more and more common among radio amateurs. All materials needed are easily accessed. Probably the hardest part is to obtain UV light source. But you can find tons of sources on the internet how to build one.

PCB Photo etching method

Yourtronics posted a nice and easy to follow guide on how to make simple PCB from the beginning. Each step is well described and followed with photo. Interesting thing is that they used Ink-Jet printer for transferring mask to transparent paper film (I always use Laser printer for this), but seems that results are great.

Another interesting image attracted me – UV light source.

UV light source for PCB making

They use an old ATX computer case, where UV emitting mercury lamp is placed. (The only thought came to my mind – why not to use any working computer where usually spare slot for CD recorder is left. As UV source there could be UV LED grid powered directly from computer power supply. So you could save space on your desk and solve power problems).

I think if you are moving from through hole to SMD technology – Photo etching method is the only one choice as in SMD terms – track and plate sizes are way to small for other home technologies like toner transfer with iron or drawing with marker.

3 Comments:

  1. Thx for the great review ScienceProg!

  2. You say you cannot get small enough sizes for SMD with toner transfer. This can only mean you used poor technique. Many people use toner transfer and get down to 7-8mil tracks.

  3. I’ve used TT for several projects over the years. My experience is that it produces mixed results. Due to shrinkage from the heat of the iron, however, I usually end up with a slightly distorted result. Its been okay for single sided thru-hole boards, (and a few SMD parts), but in general I don’t think its worth the trouble. Just my two cents.

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