Let's Make Robots!

Gathering experience with homemade PCB

Oi, yesterday and today I have been trying to make a homemade PCB using Eagle for designing the PCB and printing with a laser printer onto some glossy advertisement paper from junk mail. After several attempts I still haven't gotten a good transfer of toner to the PCB (check images) and I'm wondering if I should just design my PCBs and then send the design files off to Olimex for production

dsc00773.jpg

The leftmost board was made using normal magazine glossy paper which is about as thick as normal printer paper. That paper seemed to stuck a bit too much to the toner - I did try that type of paper once more (middle board) and heated it a bit longer than before but still the transfer was incomplete. On the rightmost picture I used thin glossy advertisement paper and that seemed to wrinkle up when exposed to the heated iron and the final board was both filled with cases of lacking traces and traces that were smeared into the surrounding ground layer.

Close but no cigar! I did find out that in order to print on the glossy thin paper I needed to tape it to a normal sheet of printer paper so it wouldn't jam in the printer.

I might give this another go but Olimex is looking better and better by each failed attempt!

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My printer uses ink so I just go and have it copied on a regular zerox on regular paper.

Two tips:

Iron the holy-living-shit outta it! --Be sure to go over every line with the tip of the iron as well as a good "full-coverage" smush of the whole board. I use the hottest setting. I can't stress the ever-living-shit outta it part enough.

Next, soak it for ever! --At least over night. After that, just use your finger to GENTLY rub off the paper. GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY!! I have found it works well if you do little circles with your fingertip rinsing often. Be patient, be patient.

You need this stuff. It's brilliant. Here's a UK supplier. I'm sure someone near you is selling it.

The toner doesn't stick very well to this paper, so it transfers easily to the board.

PS - if you want to salvage those boards you already messed up, don't stand for hours scrubbing with a ScotchBrite pad: get yourself a pint of trichloroethane. It's the stuff Tipp-Ex thinner used to be made of before they banned it.

Oh, wait a minute. They banned it. I don't know where you'd get it. I got mine ages ago and I think a pint would be a lifetime's supply!!

Thanks for the tip, boa! I will give P-n-P a chance before I resort to getting the work done by Olimex.

I was really surprised how tough the toner wass to scrub off the copper! (I have loads of copper so I didn't bother finishing with it) I do work at the technical university and I think they have some funny chemicals somewhere on campus, so... :-D... hmm... that just got me thinking... maybe it would be possible to actually do the pcb at the electronics department at the university! Well worth investigating methinks!

Send me your messed up boards and I'll send you one of my double-sided ones!!! (They're not that big. Only about 3in x 4in. I wonder where I stashed them?)