JWC's Homepage

Hello

I'm JWC. This site is mostly a repository for my projects. I'm a firm believer in learning by building.

Blog: Plans for Home PCB Fab

One thing I really miss about being back in Boston is MITERS. I only belonged to it for a few years, but I really enjoyed my time there. I spent a good summer perfecting DIY PCB fabbing, succeeding at both single-sided and double-sided boards, with trace widths below 10 mils.

Now that I’m out here in San Francisco, I haven’t joined a hackerspace yet. But I want to start producing PCBs here at home now in order to get moving on some projects I’ve been procrastinating on.

Here are sort of my plans for collecting the tools to fab PCBs.

Laser Printer

The process I use is toner-transfer and etching. So, I need to find a small laser printer that can print at 600 DPI. I was thinking of something cheap from Amazon, like this one from Canon.

Transfer

In the past, people have used irons to perform the actual transfer process. However, it’s hard to regulate the heat and pressure in this manner. So, recently, people have started using laminators, and that’s what we used at MITERS.

The GBC H220 is generally recommended for this purpose, although it’s hard to find. It requires some modification to pass PCBs through.

Etchant

I like ferric chloride over muriatic acid.

Shaker

A laboratory shaker is useful for speeding up the etching process. Without it, you have to sit and stir the tray constantly. I found a few fairly cheap ones on eBay.

Drill Press

I still work with a lot of through-hole components, so I plan to buy a mini drill press. We had this one at MITERS.

Paper

One last thing: choosing the right paper is tricky. I think we used a type of glossy paper from FedEx. I’ve seen people use glossy photo paper and magazine paper too. I plan to experiment with different types of paper.