Previously we talked about things like needed components for cheap Arduino clone, Arduino LED clock, PCB, soldering, cutting, drilling, Paperduino etc. Some readers who has no previous experience requested to write a super easy guide to convert them to PCB at home. For then, here is a detailed, step by step guide to convert Arduino like Electronics Projects to PCB at home at cheap cost. This method is mine and I named as Abhishek’s Asian PCB method (GNU GPL 3.0 matter). Abhishek is my name and we using tie-and-die, mehendi steps. That is why Asian. We need a name for easy reference.
We need to imagine that we are at 1950s era not 2017 or later. We need a writing design on those PCB and put the components. We should know some design principle like keep the components in each section grouped together in the same area of the PCB, keeping the conductive traces short, different sections of circuit should be arranged as linear as possible, each section of the circuit should be supplied power with separate traces of equal length (this is called a star configuration). These uncomplicated designs has very less to do with modern electronics PCB. But as we said – we simply want to offer them an uncomplicated way to get their PCB for holding the components and wiring them in 1950s way.
Basic Theory Needed to Know Before Reading This How To Convert Arduino Like Electronics Projects to PCB At Home
PCB essentially a board to hold the components and wire them. Modern PCBs are designed with general these steps (which we will not follow or explain in this guide) :
- Schematic capture using some electronic design automation tool.
- Gerber files are generated for manufacturing.
- Using a PCB fabrication service.
- Components are placed, soldered.
Gerber format is an open ASCII vector format for 2D images. It is the standard used by PCB industry.
We are using 1950s technology – through-hole technology, basic electronic components will be what is described in our basic electronics components guide. Modern PCB uses surface-mount technology – many basic electronic components are different. If you look at breadboard power supply circuit, they use different looking resistors that we use. We do not expect that readers will know about vertical interconnect access (VIA). We simply want to offer them an uncomplicated way to get their PCB for holding the components and wiring them.
Materials Needed to Buy For This How To Convert Arduino Like Electronics Projects to PCB
Not many stuffs, not huge bill –
- You need blank single layer PCB – their one side has copper traces and the other side is plain. They are sold in various sizes at Amazon, Ebay and are not very costly.
- I prefer using molten wax and various clay craft tools to draw and mask the needed part of copper on single layer PCB
- Nitric acid or some chemical material like Ferric Chloride which can chemically react with copper to eat up. Ferric Chloride for PCB etching is sold on Ebay, Amazon.
- Boiling in water to melt the wax
- Nail polish remover to clean the layer
- PCB drill – basically any electrical drill is great, however hand drills are not bad. Cheap PCB electric drill are sold on Ebay, Amazon
For smaller things like our Arduino LED clock, you really can draw the design of PCB by hand. It is time taking, laborious but practical than learning how to use PCB fabrication software. Your brain really know the schematic, it is not very difficult to think how to connect.
Engineers use engineering computation pad. That is costly. You can use graph paper to draw with real size of components, use carbon paper, trace on the copper plate to get an impression.
Somewhat steps are written –
- We will have the connection on copper side and components on side without copper coating. Make this theory clear.
- Cut the blank single sided PCB according to your need. You can use hack saw or simply draw paperknife many times with guidance of a metal ruler.
- Rub the copper surface of the blank single sided PCB. They are coated with substance which is known as conformal coat. It is used to protect the traces from moisture. Test with multimeter to make sure that the copper plate can transmit electricity.
- You can design your circuit on single sided PCB by drawing with molten bees wax or Indian Mehndi cone. There are some pens which shields the layer including permanent marker like Staedtler water resistant pen. You can notice the glass painting stuffs to get idea. This step to shield is your matter. You can use some those softwares (make sure that you are doing for single sided PCB) to design, print it, use carbon paper, trace it on PCB and wax the path.
- Dip on nitric acid bath (suggested if Mehndi used) or some chemical material like Ferric Chloride which can chemically react with copper to eat up. 3 TSF Ferric Chloride power in water, dipping PCB into for approximately 30 minutes reacts with the unmasked copper and removes the unwanted copper. This process is called as Etching.
- Boil in water to melt the wax. If Mehndi cone used, demands olive oil and salt to rub with cotton swab to remove color.
- Use PCB drill to make holes from copper layered side
- Place the components on copper-free side and test
- Add some epoxy based glue on the surface of the bigger components which will remain in contact with PCB (that is a trick). Stick the components on copper-free side and forget for 8 hours.
- Very carefully solider them on back side only
- Cut the extra wires
- Test whether working
Abhishek’s Asian PCB method (GNU GPL 3.0 matter, version 1.0) iincludes the above, for mini-mass production advocates the usage rubber impression stamp to stamp common things. Making stamp is lithography. Easy.