Great tip for making PCBs.

Jaggermax

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I don't mean to deviate from discussions on Deer Cams, but this may be useful for a number of us. For those of us that like to make our Deer Cam PCB boards, I came across a great tip.  I have been using the toner transfer paper from DynaArt for my PCBs.  However, the stuff is $3 bucks a sheet and if you screw up alot like me, then you can burn through the whole pack real quick.  Instead, use regular glossy inkjet photo paper.  I have tried the HP glossy photo and others, but the best is called Jet Print "Graphic image paper, Glossy".  It works just as well as the DynaArt transfer and only costs about 75 cents a sheet.  KMart has it on sale right now at 20 sheets for $5.  For additional info on the process, check out http://www.fullnet.com/u/tomg/gooteepc.htm

(Edited by Jaggermax at 8:56 pm on April 24, 2001)


(Edited by Jaggermax at 8:58 pm on April 24, 2001)
 



Tinhorn

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Jaggermax

I got a "Page Not Found" Error on your Link?
 

Archilochus

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Hi All,
I've been using Xerox "color inkjet photo glossy paper" instead of the toner transfer paper.  Lots cheaper and seems to work even beter than the toner transfer stuff - less chunks of toner missing out of the transferred traces.

Good Luck!,

Archilochus
 

jayber

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I wasn't able to find the Jet Print Photo, Graphic Image Paper - Glossy.  However, they did have Graphic Image - Matte finish.  I've tried the photocopy method using the darkest setting, but can't get a complete transfer.  Some of the circuit shows great while the rest is nonexistent.  Could it be the paper difference?  Anybody have any other suggestions before I run out to K-Mart to see if I can find the paper there??
 

Archilochus

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Hi jayber,
I'd think you could get away with using most any *glossy* photo paper.  I'm guessing the matte stuff does not release the toner as well.
Try these steps, I've had great results - even down to 15 mil traces!

1) Copy at the darkest setting on a *high quality* photo-copier (I've heard laser printers work better).

2) Heat-treat the circuit before transferring it - "burn" it with a heat gun - not a hair drier.  You want the traces to turn glossy.

3) You want to really cook the toner onto your PC board.  Clothing irons don't really work that well (not so far for me anyway)   I use a tool that was made for transferring artwork onto cloth.  It's like a cheap soldering iron with a wide, flat brass plate attatched.  I follow that with a regular clothing iron just to get any spots I might have missed.

4) Let it soak - patience is required.  The paper will slip right off if you soak it long enough.  

5) After removing paper, gently rub the PC board with your finger tips under hot water to get the slimy stuff off the board.  This also will break off any loose toner, so you'll know where to touch up the traces with a Sharpie marker.

Good Luck!,

Archilochus
 

jayber

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Thanks......back to the store to find the Glossy stuff tonite!!
 

Jaggermax

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Stay away from the matte finish paper.  I does not release the toner as well as the gloss paper.  Pretty much most any glossy paper will work, but I found the JetPrint is the easiest to remove in the water bath.  It pretty much fall off the board after a minute or two.  

Like ARC. metioned, I also started with a cloths iron and sometimes had problems with getting the toner to stick to the board.  It was really just hit and miss.  You have to find one that can supply 350 to 400 degrees consistantly.  

I found a really old cloths iron (one that is simple just a big block of steel with no cord) and placed it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  I then took it out and press is on my board and pattern for one minute.  This worked very well and I have not had any problems since.  I am also about to try a sandwich press with an adjustable temperature setting.  I will let you know how it goes.  
 

jayber

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Wow, I found the Jet Print - Glossy paper and it made all the difference in the world!  It appears that my iron heats up pretty well......maybe too well!!  Peeled half the thickness of paper off right-away, but after an overnite soak in soapy water it still was a struggle for the remainder.  Excited to see how well they will etch compared to the old marking pen!
 

Matt in MO

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Wow. You guys are my heros. But if you were a slacker like me where would you go to have a complete circuit built (board, components, potted in a plastic case with male spade connectors and potentiometers protruding) in quantities of 1,000 or more?

Oh, and how do you remove potting material from someone else's work to see what they're doing? Is that unethical?

Thanks
Matt in MO
 

jayber

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Update:  Boards are etching really well!!  

Matt in MO,
When you figure that one out let us all know!  Heck, I'd be happy to find someone locally to lay the runs......soldering the stuff is easy (now)!!  HaHa
 

Archilochus

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Hi Matt,
Sure it's unethical.....But they probably just copied someone else, so go for it :)
You'll probably find a code protected micro-controller under the epoxy.  Not so easy to reverse engineer any more.  You could try and read IN /OUT states on the micro...if the circuit still works after etching the epoxy off.
The circuits are really fairly easy to design...probably less work to start from scratch than it is to reverse engineer some existing circuit.

Do a search for "circuit board manufacturers" to find companies who'll do your boards.  Many do "one-offs" for not too much money.

Archilochus
 

Jaggermax

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Matt, it all depends what you are tying to "reverse engineer" as to if it's ethical or not.  I know first hand because I design a lot of the components that go into ATM machines and I have to intentionally pot all of our ATM boards because hightech crooks are always trying to tap into the lines and steal data and code.  

I know there are some laws protecting certain potted circuits that operate on programmable memory.  However, if it is a descrete circuit and is simply potted to protect it from the elements, then I think it is fair game.  Circuits are not really considered proprietary, however, the software and code used to run the circuit are.  

Also, if you are interested in getting circuit boards made, there are tons of board houses out there on the net.  1000 boards or less is usually considered a small run and you are going to pay a fairly high price for them in addition to the tooling for silkscreening, soldermask, etc.  I would recommend ExpressPCB.  I am having them make 100 boards for me right now and a 2.5" x 3.25" board will run about $8.  Hope this help ya.  Good Luck.  
 


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