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Thread: Laser Printed Circuit board

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Laser Printed Circuit board

    Not sure this is worthy of being in the 'Showcase', but it's my first real useful project I've made with my little laser.

    Just for a refresher, here is my laser. It came with a 500mw laser on it, but I upgraded to a 2.8w diode model.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The basic method is to paint the pcb, and use the laser to burn off the paint where you don't want the copper to be. Once the paint is burned off, then you remove the copper with ferric chloride.

    I've got a little wifi module I want to hook it up on a breadboard. The problem is the module is not really breadboard friendly, so I drew up a little breakout board in Inkscape.

    It's a black and white bitmap, that I run though a program that converts it to G-code to do the etching.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is the PCB after lasering, and a light brushing to get rid of the paint residue
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    Here it is after I removed the copper and drilled the holes with the header and pins that I'll be soldering to the board.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And After I removed the paint with a little acetone and put the components in place.
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    All that's left is to solder it up.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  2. #2
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    How clever!
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Sacramento, CA
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    So cool - that looks very pro!
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  4. #4
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    May 2007
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    Nicely done, Brent!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  5. #5
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    Now I need to learn how to use some real circuit board design software!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  6. #6
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    Well, Had a slight design flaw. Falls into the measure twice, cut once category. The board ended up covering all of the holes in the breadboard!

    Time to see how small I can make the traces now.

    Not a bad thing, It's all about the experimentation.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  7. #7
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    Dec 2006
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    Yorktown, Virginia
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    Awesome! Even if it didn't fit, you proved the concept.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Connecticut
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    If you're looking for software, check out DipTrace. For the things you're doing, the software is free. It is by far the easiest to use software out there for PCB design, but despite that it's very good. Part of what I do for my business is design guitar effects pedals and this is what I use. Of course I have the "Standard" paid version, but the free version is exactly the same except you're limited to the number of pins and layers (500 pins, 2 layers...PLENTY for most hobbyiest uses) and only for non-profit use. If you download it and need help, I'll be glad to help too. Standard Gerber file output is actually GCode of sorts (very similar, but different ), and there are some science projects out there for converting it actual GCode a CNC mill can use...and maybe there's something for a laser. I don't know. Of course, you could always just print to PDF and work as you currently are. You can also export to DXF.

    Here's one hint that could save you some time on larger boards, and may actually results in cleaner etching. You don't have to remove all of the excess copper. Just etch around the traces leaving some reasonable clearance. .015" perhaps, or however much you want.

    I haven't heard of someone using a laser to do this. It's essentially fancy photo-etching process. Neat idea!
    Last edited by John Coloccia; 09-03-2015 at 10:28 PM.

  9. #9
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    Reno NV
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    I was able to trim it down with a dremel to fit, but I'm burning a new version right now. Be interesting to see how well the smaller traces will work.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    I see a bit of copper "fuzz" in the lower left, do you think that is due to your etch or your mask?

    The only way I've tried something like this is the iron on laser jet mask ala: http://www.instructables.com/id/PCB-...laser-printer/ - not exactly how I did it but pretty close. If the ink transferred cleanly it was a really crisp mask, the ink didn't always transfer cleanly of course

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