DIY etching PCB's - Toner Method or UV Exposure Method?

Discussion in 'Burnt Fingers DIY Effects' started by joel_ostrom, May 27, 2013.

  1. joel_ostrom

    joel_ostrom Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2006
    Calgary, AB
    Just getting into some tinkering with Pedal clones, want to start etching my own PCB's. I've seen some vids on youtube and read lots of tutorials. Just wondering which is the preferred method among you guys.

    Toner Method - transfer toner from printed diagram to a copper board via heat, using the toner drawn on the copper to draw the traces

    UV Exposure - Using photo sensitive boards with a diagram printed on transparent paper. Using the unexposed trace sections as the traces.

    which is the better method for a beginner circuit board builder?
    Which do you prefer?

  2. Starshine

    Starshine Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Toner transfer never worked all that well for me. I could never get a good clear transfer of the layout and it was a total pain. Some people get great results, but I just never could. Photosensitive boards give much better results and are easier to do. However, they have a couple big drawbacks. First, the materials may be hard to come by and expensive. Second, the chemicals needed to develop the boards are the nastiest chemicals I've ever come across. Don't even think about doing this method unless you have a serious ventilation system you're using.

    I eventually gave up making my own PCB for one completely unrelated reason. I hated drilling all the holes! It's one thing if you're making a Fuzz Face, but wait until you want to build a delay pedal. 100s of holes!
  3. Funhouse42

    Funhouse42 TDPRI Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    +1 to everything said... especially the drilling part:lol:

    I stopped etching my own because of the hassle. For prototype boards I have a guy that gives me great prices, all I do is give him the artwork for the etch. For anything else, I design my own dual sided boards in eagle, then have OSHpark make them. Incredible quality and good prices.

    Etching boards is like most things. It's usually not the cheapest way, and it's a much bigger pain in the a$$. But you have the satisfaction of saying "I made that". Unless of course, you are doing high number of boards, then it might be cost effective. But I pity your eyes after drilling all the holes.

    That's just my opinion of course, YMMV.

    I still use vero for most small or prototype stuff. Hundreds of layouts available on-line.
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