How to Etch a Printed Circuit Board



The first question that I can hear u thinking is what’;s a PCB? PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board, for example your motherboard is one big PCB (just multilayered) obviously a motherboard is way out of our league, however with some household equipment and some chemicals we can make ourselves some great casemodding PCB’;s. Just think of fading LED’;s, homemade fan controllers, and anything else you can come up with. In this guide I’;m going to explain how to make a usable PCB. With this step by step guide you can make you own in no time, here’;s a list of things that will be needed.



Plastic TweezerClick here for a larger image 




Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is for guidance only. The application of this tutorial can differ extensively based on the particular items involved. The information on this site is provided with the understanding that the author(s) and publisher(s) are cannot be held legally responsible for any injury or death that may result from this or any other article at OCmodshop. With this being said be sure to understand what you are doing before you attempt what is being shown. If you have any questions about any aspect of the article please contact the author or another experienced individual before proceeding.

  • A sheet of printable transparent film (for overhead projector usage)
  • 2 plastic or glass containers to hold the liquids.
  • Plastic tweezers
  • 0.8mm, 1mm, and 1.5mm drill bits
  • Water
  • Acetone, or nail polish remover (contains acetone)
  • A face toner, or any other UV-A light source
  • A blank PCB with UV photo layer
  • Some Hydrogen Peroxide (35% concentration but lower is also good)
  • Some Hydrochloric Acid (10 % concentration)
  • Caustic soda, which is also referred to as Sodium Hydroxide.
    The first thing we need is a design of what you want to make. There are all kinds of programs for that and you can even do it by hand. I’;m using the program called EAGLE, you can find it Protective Layer Art on the photosensitive layer Click here for a larger image Click here for a larger imageFrom here on begins the actual Etching process. The board itself is made of multiple layers of glass fiber, also known as an epoxy board. First measure what size board you need and saw it off using a hacksaw. The blue plastic layer is the protection layer of the copper and photosensitive layer. If you damage the board don’;t use it because it will turn out bad. Don’;t remove the plastic layer until the very last moment when where going to expose it to the UV light. Remove the protective layer, and place your printout the way you want it, and again take notice that it’;s mirrored.
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    1. Terry Rollo

      January 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Just buy whatever you are trying to make new off the shelf at Walmart! Why are you nerds trying to "make stuff" anyways?

    2. John Marks

      June 21, 2011 at 12:57 am

      Just get the board made professionally. It's not expensive these days, and cheaper than keeping the etching chemicals and buying a UV light (plus experimenting with the exposure time).

      There's plenty of small outfits that will do one offs and small volume PCBs for you.

    3. Owen Davies

      June 21, 2011 at 12:57 am

      Can go simpler than the photo-sensitive layer + UV light route. Back in the day we had bare copper, used an exacto to cut adhesive circles and strips and stuck em where we wanted traces. Dip in acid, clean, remove tape and you're done. Board w copper + tape + acid = PCB. Biggest danger was leaving tiny gaps between pieces of tape allowing the acid to cut off one part from the next.

    4. Joe Marx

      June 21, 2011 at 12:56 am

      So… Why is the last picture in each of the series of a giant Pokemon with the word Mudkip next to it?

    5. karthik electrocom

      June 21, 2011 at 12:56 am

      some pages are not fully updated

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