Here are some tips and pics on how I designed Black Vermin's new PCB. Just click any image to enlarge.
1. Of course, prepare the things needed... like the picture below.
2. This will be the "look", when cut properly.
3. When you're done with the cutting, prepare the things needed to etch your design on the PCB. I've used Radio Shack's "dry transfers" (etch resist). It's cheap but very useful, handy and easy to use.
4. I don't use any software programs whatsoever to make PCB designs. I just look at the schematic diagram and etch the whole thing with ease. I also take my ruler and draw lines on the PCB to center the dry transfers, for a neat work.
5. Dry transfers are very easy to use. Just place it on the PCB (where your design is) and use an empty or blank ballpen to scratch down the transfers; and peel it off carefully. That's it! You also have to use a small cutter blade (be very careful) to cut the transfer lines according to your design. And by the way, you can also use a transparent tape (3M Scotch Tape is the best!) around the border of the PCB and serves as the ground (or something like that). You can't see the tape in the pictures 'coz it's kinda invisible. :-)
6. Now, prepare a large basin or a container. Put the PCB in it and pour enough ferric chloride chemical into the basin. Shake the basin gently in back and forth motions or left and right motion. This will dissolve the unprotected copper side and the ones with the dry transfers will remain after this process. Do the shaking for a few minutes and check the PCB once in a while to see if the unnecessary copper skin is removed. The one shown below is only an example, just to show you. I forgot to take some photos before it was done (submerged in ferric chloride). But anyway, you'll get the idea.
7. When you're done, rinse the PCB with water (at the faucet) to clean it up. Wipe it and let it dry. Remove the dry transfer remains by using a sticky tape to peel it off. The PCB must be clean. You'll notice some small undissolved copper dots, and these should be removed by using a small cutter blade. Scrape it off lightly to remove it. This copper excess may cause some shorts to the circuitry when soldering the components.
8. When it's all removed, get a used dry toothbrush and brush the whole PCB (copper side). If you want to be more cleaner or shiny, get an eraser (I've used white or transparent ones) and erase the whole copper side of the PCB. You can erase it hardly but carefully to improve the shiny effect. Brush it again with a dry toothbrush to remove the dirts.
9. Presto! All you have to do is to drill the PCB for your components. Shiny as a gold, isn't it?
10. Drilling time! After drilling, use a small file or very fine sandpaper to smoothen the holes at the copper sides of the PCB. Just file it gently and lightly! Then rinse it with water afterwards. Wipe it and let it dry.
11. Double-check / examine your work everytime, before soldering the components. Make sure that there are no shorts and broken foil pattern/s.
12. Now, take a break......sit back and relax!
Goodluck and have fun! :-)
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