last modified: Saturday 18 June 2016 (UTC)
author: Hales
markup: textile

Simpler PCB etching/making techniques for simpler boards

Normally I use a toner-transfer technique to mask my PCBs before etching. It's quite a bit of effort to go to if I only want to make a simple board, however.

Background for the task at hand

I needed to make a board to hold a fuse and some terminal blocks. My pre-drilled veroboard would be perfect, but I wanted to have some better isolation across the board (ie remove the copper from large areas of it).

Presumably the techniques on this page work the same on ordinary copper clad board too. Please excuse some of the blurry photos.

Method 1: Drilling the the copper out

Slow. Difficult. Annoying. Probably weakens the board considerably. I didn't get any further than this.

Method 2: Nail polish

Nail polish does not get dissolved by my etchant.

First I marked out the copper I wanted left using a permanent marker:

Then I painted this will green nail polish. The polish mixed with the marker and required a couple of coats, taking quite a bit of time. It also liked to go everywhere you didn't want it, so I had to clean up its edges with a knife. It also smells.

Result after etching:

Not bad. Unfortunately I then have to deal with the nail polish. Acetone dissolves it:

Now I have to deal with getting rid of a pot of ugly acetone, nail polish and permanent marker mixture. Yuck. Onto the next alternative!

Method 3: Cut tape

I covered the copper side of the board with a single piece of duct tape and poked my components through to make some holes:

From this I could judge what tape I wanted to cut off using a stanley knife:

I covered the other side of the board with another piece of duct tape before etching to make sure that the acid did not attack from behind. I also poked the holes in the tape gently closed: this seemed to be good enough of a seal during the etching.


Obligatory tentacles

Found growing on the steel lid of my etchant jar:

It's taken many months for them to get this big. I should have left them alone.

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