DIY PCB board makers out there?

JuneauMike

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Anyone out there do one-off DIY PCB boards? I was interested in putting a project together and ultimately would like to PCB it, but its not something I can really do where I live. The chemicals too difficult to obtain, the learning curve too steep, the end results not guaranteed.

So anyone?
 

Digital Larry

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I have in the past (using photo resist along with a layout done with tape on mylar, or sharpie on plain copper plated boards can work if you're thorough). The most recent thing I did was a 4 layer board I designed in DipTrace and sent to China to have fabbed for something like $10 each for 10.

Have you considered VeroBoard? I used TinyCAD (schematic capture) along with VeeCAD (Veroboard CAD) to help create some optimized Veroboard layouts. That's all pretty geeky though and probably more trouble than it's worth just for one PCB.
 

JuneauMike

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Ok, so in each case are you designing the PCB and then sending it to them to produce? I've got DipTrace but don't really know what I'm doing.

And @loopfinding, I'm not afraid of SMD. I probably wouldn't what an entire SMD board but being selective I could reduce the size of it, I'm sure.

@Digital Larry, that may be an option but I've never looked at Vero Board as anything more than a prototyping board. They consume real estate fast and I think my OCD has a hard time tracking with the layout if it gets much more involved than a LPB-1 or simple fuzz circuit. I was hoping to have a finished product that is clean and compact.
 
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LightningPhil

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Keeping the panels under 100mm by 100mm and the options simple results in very inexpensive boards.

Quite like OSH Park too, where you get 3 copies and pay by surface area (or at least that's how it was a few years ago). The boards from them are pretty nice.

For software, try designspark from RS components. Free and pretty good. There are many other options at differing levels of cost and complexity.

Have made many, many boards at home. Always refered to it as "poisonous chemical time" and did it in the kitchen - obviously cleaning up ever so well after.
 

drmordo

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I burned a bunch of PCBs about 10-15 years ago. As I recall, you print the circuit on heat transferable paper, then melt it onto a blank copper board using a heat press or iron, then soak it in acid to etch away the excess copper. Pretty easy, really. You neutralize the acid with baking soda then toss. I'd have to google it, but as I recall you don't have to use exotic Radio Shack etching compound, you can use fairly common corrosives.

Frankly, it was harder to drill the PCB than to make it. Tiny drill bits are expensive and break frequently. If memory serves, that was why I lost interest - I was tired of breaking drill bits. I drew up a bunch of PCBs before I lost interest. Some of them I never even made.
 

Che_Guitarra

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Maybe go to Facebook Marketplace and try to get a hold of someone with a CNC at home?

I'd be happy to help myself, but I live on the other side of the world. This is an example of an amplifier board I built on my X carve. Took 30 minutes to make. Could easily scale down to 1/10th the size if needed.

q5lw2MS.jpg
 

WalthamMoosical

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About 30 years ago I did quite a few, for EPFM projects. I used a combination of dry-rub transfer and drawing with a Sharpie for putting the mask on the copper. There are faster methods for the layout (and probably were then also). The etching was not difficult, not really time-consuming, and not dangerous.

However,

Frankly, it was harder to drill the PCB than to make it.

Yeah, that was annoying, even on non-glass boards. If you were thinking of doing a lot of it with surface-mount rather than through-hole, it wouldn't be as bad.

I still have materials for etching PCB boards should I ever get the hankering, but even for a one-off I might be inclined to just learn the software and send a file to one of the "houses" who will do the fabrication, even if I had to pay for 3 copies. I might even do strip board in preference to etching a PCB, and I say that in spite of never having done it before.
 

NoTeleBob

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Ok, so in each case are you designing the PCB and then sending it to them to produce? I've got DipTrace but don't really know what I'm doing.

And @loopfinding, I'm not afraid of SMD. I probably wouldn't what an entire SMD board but being selective I could reduce the size of it, I'm sure.

@Digital Larry, that may be an option but I've never looked at Vero Board as anything more than a prototyping board. They consume real estate fast and I think my OCD has a hard time tracking with the layout if it gets much more involved than a LPB-1 or simple fuzz circuit. I was hoping to have a finished product that is clean and compact.

Point of note: The Original LPB-1 was point to point from the jacks to the pot. Everything floating mid air. LOL.

Came in to the thread because I'm curious about the same... I use perf/Vero options but it gets funky fast. Post again if/when you execute a solution.
 

JuneauMike

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Point of note: The Original LPB-1 was point to point from the jacks to the pot. Everything floating mid air. LOL.
Well mine isn't point-to-point. And really I was only illustrating a larger point with the comparison.
 

peteb

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Here is an interesting thread with plenty of TDPRIers that have experience making DIY printed circuit boards, including one off PCB’s.

here is evidence people can make one off PCB tube amplifiers. It sounds however that the one off PCB tube amp is not a recommended practice.
 

peteb

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I'd be happy to help myself, but I live on the other side of the world. This is an example of an amplifier board I built on my X carve. Took 30 minutes to make. Could easily scale down to 1/10th the size if needed.

q5lw2MS.jpg

That is nice looking board.

may I ask what amp that is?


thanks
 

ahiddentableau

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I've done a few using the blue heat transfer paper onto stock and ferric chloride. It's not rocket science. So long as you are careful and follow the steps you'll get a working board. My good ol' Distortion + was built that way. I used the tonepad layout, it was my first build, sentimental value, etc. It was fine, and I'm sure you can do it.

But @loopfinding is absolutely right. Just get it done by a board shop. The availability and prices make it a no-brainer. You get a better board and, unless you know you're going to do more projects in the future, you will save money.
 

soggybag

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I’ve been designing boards Eagle and having them manufactured at PCBWay.com.

The last run of boards I made 6 different circuits, and ordered 10 boards for each. The coast was about $60 shipped. Really the cost $5 for each board and $30 shipping for the batch of 6.

The results was a cost of $1 for each board w was pretty good. They sent me 11 of each board in the end so the coast a little Lower.

The quality is great. You can also choose the solder mask color and some other options. I always stick with what’s cheapest. The price jumps if your boards are larger then 100mm.

I wrote up a blog post here. Check out my build pages and you can get an idea of the boards and quality.


Here is a Tone Bender PCB I did:

C19D22EC-26C3-46FD-90BF-C0BB6665E45C.jpeg
A78D6890-A155-487D-9E0B-7EC41E4D9832.jpeg
F06F60CD-39AC-4970-BAE9-19EDC1C6081C.jpeg
3C637B40-0F0C-474D-A1DE-99C255348FA7.jpeg
 




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