A printed circuit board (PCB) is a plastic board that is constructed for connecting electronic components together. Before the arrival of the PCB circuits were constructed through a laborious process of point-to-point wiring. But, this led to frequent failures at wire junctions and short circuits when wire insulation began to age and crack. However, now with durability changes they are used, these days, in almost all computers and electronics.
Although most of the time these printed circuit boards look so complex that they are unfathomable, it is still possible to understand them and even create a simple one of your own.
Before you start drawing wires and other components for your PCB is it best to start with a schematic. It is best to figure out just what you want your PCB to be used for before you attempt to create it. There is nothing worse than finding that you have to undo everything you have just created because the idea was not clear in the first instance.
In order to successfully map out your schematic of the desired printed circuit board, it is best to use the right software. There are some really useful computer-aided drafting (CAD) software that can assist in the creation and modification of your PCB. However, there are things to consider when choosing a CAD software package such as the amount of people using it, the ease of its use, its capability and its portability. Once you have the right software and have learnt to understand just how it functions it becomes a breeze to lay out a brief schematic and the initial design of your printed circuit board.
Take time and care to pay attention to the finer details of your desired design. There is no sense in rushing through something to only have to do it all over again when you find a mistake. When you design your board it is good to remember where the finished piece will be placed, any tall components might have to be laid down flat in order to fit. All your capacitors, transistors and LEDs should be marked out perfectly in order to make the initial creation of the PCB flawless.
There are different methods of etching a printed circuit design onto the copper circuit board. But first you need to print out your design for the circuit board. Laser printer ink is the most common material used when printing out the design on glossy paper.
When printing out the confirmed design for your PCB you have to ensure that the circuit is mirrored before printing. Once printed, be very careful not to touch the ink on the glossy paper, not only will it stain your fingers but you could very well smudge the intricate design, when placing on the chosen board. Carefully, using an iron on the cotton (cool) setting place the iron on top of the paper for about 30-14 seconds, ensuring every aspect of the design is covered.
Remove the iron and carefully, as the paper will be hot, submerge the board and paper in hot water for a few minutes. This will help you peel off the paper but leave behind on the copper board the design needed to go to the next stage, etching the printed circuit board.
There are various methods to etch your new PCB, but some require different levels of experience, skills and equipment.
Acid etching requires extreme safety measures and the availability of many materials such as the etchant and it is somewhat slow. This method is good for simple to intermediate levels of complexity circuits. Circuits involving more close wiring and tiny wires usually use other methods.
The UV etching method is used for transposition of your PCB layout onto your PCB board and requires more expensive materials that might not be available everywhere. However, even with the expense this method is relatively simple and is able to produce more complicated circuits with finer details.
Mechanical etching/routing method requires special machines that will mechanically etch away unnecessary copper from the board or route empty separators between wires. It can be expensive if you choose to buy the machine but can be good if you wish to create multiple PCB’s.
The final etching method is normally only used by large companies or some universities. Laser etching is similar to mechanical etching but laser beams are used to etch the board.
Once your printed circuit board has been etched all that needs to be done is adding the components into their spaces. This is done with simple drilled hole and some solder. With these steps and the right equipment it is simple to create your own printed circuit board.
Blog Uploaded: 2nd September 2015