John Tsiombikas email@example.com
2 March 2012
I'm going through an electronics phase at the moment, and I did a few circuits on stripboards (a kind of perfboard), which are ok but it's always a pain in the ass to wire them up correctly. Btw here's a relatively complex one I did a few months ago. So, I thought it would be awesome to create my own PCBs instead of using messy error-prone perfboards all the time, plus I always wanted to try the laser-printer method for homemade PCB creation back from when I didn't actually own a laser printer.
I didn't want to start with a huge complex circuit, so I decided to make a PCB version of my vsync shutter glasses driver.
First step was to draw a schematic in a schematic capture program, and then design a PCB for it. I've never done this before so it might be crap PCB layout, I don't know.
Then I printed the traces with my laser printer and used a clothes iron to transfer the toner onto the copper board. The transfer wasn't perfect but I went ahead to try etching since I planned to scrap my first attempt anyway. Some time (a lot actually) in an ammonium persulfate solution, and my first home-made PCB is done, hurray! And there was much rejoicing...
Obviously the result was unusable, so I tried again. This time I didn't feel like waiting forever to etch all the bloody copper off the board, so I modified the PCB design, adding a ground plane, and moving parts around a bit randomly.
Second transfer and etching worked perfectly, and I also repeated the toner transfer process for the "silkscreen" layer at the top of the board.
Turns out soldering on a PCB without a proper soldermask is messier than I expected, but it turned out just fine in the end. My new vsync driver board works perfectly. In the end I skipped the vesa stereo connector because I didn't have an extra DIN-3 handy, and I don’t have vesa shutter glasses anyway.
The whole process was fun, but I'm not sure it’s really worth the effort. Next time I'll give one of those cheap chinese pcb manufacturers a try.
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