Developing a PCB in your own home may not be as complicated as some tend to believe. All of the equipment necessary is available at a modest cost, and in some cases free. Let's a take a look at the steps in creating your own printed circuit boards.

Following the Dry Transfer Method to Create PCBs

Most of the supplies necessary to create your own PCBs are available at grocery stores, department stores, electronics and hobby stores, and, of course, the Internet.

Required Materials

- CAD software for PCB design

- A PCB laminate board coated in copper

- Photographic paper (Glossy)

- Laser printer

- Clothing iron

- Etching solutions (for best results use Ferric Chloride)

- Abrasive scrubbing pads (kitchen or bathroom)

- Paint Thinner or Acetone

- Exacto knife or razor blade

- Paper tape

- Double-sided tape


1. Find a free, or low cost CAD software program to create to your PCB layout.

2. Cut the PCB laminate roughly to size by scoring with an Exacto knife and bending along the groove to break. Exact trimming can be done after the board is finished.

3. Now you must take the copper side of the laminate and using your scrubbing pad, remove oil or dirt that could hinder the etching and transfer process. If you so choose, you can use a minimal amount of mildly abrasive cleaner. Dry off the board

4. Print your PCB design layout onto the glossy side of the photographic paper on your laser printer. Use your printer highest quality settings to ensure the best possible image.

5. Cut out the design so it fits the laminate board. Attach the side of the paper containing the image to the copper surface of the board by using the paper tape.

6. Take your clothes iron and turn it to the hottest setting available and turn off the steam. Using the double sided tape, you will want to secure the board to solid, heat resistant surface. Using the iron, apply heat and pressure evenly around the board for a period of sixty to ninety seconds. Avoid leaving the iron in one place too long or it will burn the paper. Wait for your board to cool down.

7. When the board is cool enough to touch, immerse it in room temperature water for about a minute. When paper softens, gently rub off the paper. You will be left with reversed image of your circuit board.

8. You will want to remove any left over paper by gently scrubbing the copper with the kitchen/bathroom scrubber.

9. Place the board on-edge into the etching solution so that the entire board is covered. Ferric chloride is an extremely corrosive solution and will stain anything it touches so please use pliers or tongs to avoid any contact with clothing or skin.

10. Let your board rest in the solution for around 10 minutes and continue to stir it regularly.

11. At 10 minutes check the board. If the board needs to be in the solution longer, leave it in for up to 5 more minutes. Continue stirring the solution and checking the progress.

12. After the board is etched, completely rinse it off with water.

13. By using a couple drops of acetone you can remove the residual toner.

14. Trim the board, sand the edges with high-grit sandpaper and it is ready for drilling and assembly.


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