Other Projects > Making PCBs With Toner Transfer

Why this project?
Toner Transfer Complete

Toner Transer (TT) is a cheap and easy way to make your own PCBs with sending it out to a PCB fabrication house. It also gives you a chance to prototype your design as well. I think it also helps make your projects look a bit more polished.

Note and Disclaimer: Chemicals are used in this project. They are toxic. They will stain your clothes, fingers and more. Use rubber gloves and eye protection. Common sense goes a long way. Be sure to read the MDS for the product you are using to etch your copper boards. And watch out for sharp edges. Oh, and don't run with scissors!

WELL, this was a bit more difficult than I thought. I decided to remake the cricket chirper schematic from scratch and use DipTrace. The free version does upto 250 pins, which is more than enough for most of us. It has been quite a while since I had used it and I Toner to transferbasically had to learn how to use it all over again. However, I did finally suceed and complete the schematic and make the board. The one in the pictures that follow was not a good schematic transfer (I forgot to mirror it before printing and a few other little critical things). I reworked the schematic and circuit layout for the actual project, but as stated above, the one in the picture was thrown away. When I post the Chirper project, I will make the files available for download as well.

*CHANGED*
When printing your schmatics for TT, you need to remember two things: Mirror the top and flip the text, and print to bottom as is. NOTE: This is for DipTrace only. If you are using some other program to create your PCBs to print, you are on your own!
*CHANGED*

I printed the image on magazine paper (I think the page shown is from EWeek). I taped it down to a regular sheet of paper to run it through my laser printer (I have a Brother HL-5240). I then trim down the image and cut a piece of copper clad board (I used single Trimmed PCBsided board here) to fit. I then ran the copper clad with the image on top of it through the laminator. I use 5 passes (one each way, then up side down). You can clean up any missing toner with a Sharpie permanant marker.

I use hot soapy water to lift the paper off the board leaving the schematic toner behind. I made a tool to agitate my ferric chloride solution (it is powered by a 9v battery, through a 7805 and a servo modified for continuous rotation).

I use Ferric Chloride to etch. It is quite versitile stuff. It will even etch brass! There aren't many places in Anchorage that carries Ferric Chloride (go figure) and the premixed (liquid) variety cannot be shipped via postal service. So I opted for the powered version. Follow the directions on how to mix it. IT GETS HOT when you add water. AGAIN: Follow the mixing directions! Once you have it in liquid form, it is a good idea to heat up your etchant before use, as it will shorten the etching time significantly. It should AT LEAST be at room temperature before you start. One of the more common ways to heat it up is to use a hot water bath and set your bottle of Ferric Chloride in it. I have know people who use microwave ovens to heat thier solutions. This is not recommended, especially if you use the microwave oven to also heat food. Ferric Chloride is toxic!

Once it is in the solution, keep it agitating. Be sure to flip the board over occasionally to make sure the Ferric Chloride gets under it (unless your board is only clad on one side). As soon as it is finished, remove and rinse the board. Otherwise you can over etch and the copper under the toner can be eaten away.

After it has been etched, I rinse it off then use some acetone to remove the toner. The board is ready for drilling.

The last couple of pictures are of the corrected and etched chirper board.

 

Toner Transferred
Paper peeled Toner Transferred
Homemade Agitator
Homemade Agitator
Working Bits of the Agitator
Working Bits of the Agitator
Etching Away
Etching Away on the Agitator
Cleaned PCB - Ready to Drill
Cleaned PCB - Ready to Drill
My Laminator
My Laminator

The real Chirper Board after Etching

The real Chirper Board after Etching

The Real Chirper Board Silk Screen Side
The Real Chirper Board Silk Screen Side

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