How to make PCB at home easily

easy steps to make PCB at home

Did you know that you can make PCB easily at home? Say you have designed a simple electronics circuit that uses 555 timer and now you need to make a PCB. In this post, I will share you how you can make PCB at home in just few steps.

What we will have at the end is shown below.

fig: completed 555 timer board

What you need essentially?

  1. Laser Printer
  2. Glossy Paper
  3. Ferric Chloride
  4. PCB copper board

That’s it. You need these for reasons I will explain along the way.

First make your circuit. Mine is shown below drawn in Proteus ISIS.

555 timer schematic
fig: 555 timer schematic

This simple circuit just turns on/off the LED at specific rate. The circuit here is not important because this is tutorial for making PCB at home.

Now create the PCB layout(mine is shown below).

PCB layout

Now print the layout onto a glossy paper using laser printer. Mine is HP Laser Jet P1102. I got this printer specially for PCB printing and this printer model was recommended by many on the internet. Also this is a cheap printer compared to others. The resolution was set to 600 DPI.

Your PCB layout printed on the glossy paper should look similar to the following one.

PCB layout on glossy paper

You may notice that the power traces and signal traces have the same width but for this simple illustration it doesn’t matter(at least to me). I was interested more into other aspect(the PCB copper trace via home made printer).

Now we have to stick(glue) the pcb layout art from the paper onto the PCB copper board. How we do this? Now there are two methods I hear. One is the cold and the other is the hot method. Here we will do the hot method.

Place the artwork in the paper facing the copper board. Then (at first) with very hot cloth iron press onto the paper from the top so that the paper sticks(I mean glue) to the board. Then afterwards press harder and harder onto the paper with the hot iron so as to glue the artwork onto the board and the toner(ink for understanding). The aim is to transfer the toner from the paper onto the copper board using high temperature.

This process is shown below.

press paper and board with hot iron

Now this step is the hard part. It requires experience. You might ask how long should you press and you may not know whether it would work after pressing for say hours. This requires experience. The duration I would say is around 15 to 20 minutes but you have to agree that it depends on factors like the kind of iron you have(say), the glossy paper material(for example). Another hint I would say is that you will see the black toner appearing through the paper as it gets very(very) hot. And you see brownish color appearing due to high applied heat.

Then rest for a while, that is, let the board glued paper cool down for say 7 to 10 minutes. While it is cooling down, you should prepare warm water.

After some time of cooling dip the board/paper into the warm water.

dip board into warm water

Then slowly and steadily peel of the paper. What you should have is the toner printed onto the copper board as shown below.

etching required

The dark bluish lines are toner printed on the copper board. This will save the copper beneath it. Other shinning copper have to be removed which is the next step. Now you should check whether there is any disconnection in your circuit path. If there is well significant broken traces you will have to start again. If you reach this point then you are good to go, you have made your own PCB at home because the rest is easy work.

Now we have to etch the copper that we don’t want. Put the board into Ferric Chloride and water solution.

etching PCB board

Then after a while you should have your first printed circuit board made at home.

PCB at home

Now whats remaining is to drill holes and solder the components onto the board. Mine is shown below.

The backside of the PCB.

Then the finished home made circuit is shown below.

completed 555 timer board

Finally I tested this circuit.

testing home made circuit

So it is not hard to make your own PCB at home. The main thing is about experience. Here and there you might have to use different glossy paper(they come in different weights), different laser printer etc.

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