Homemade PC Boards

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

Control the two digits representing minutes; this circuit includes two shift registers, 30 resistors, and 30 LEDs. (All told, a particularly simplecircuit, really. ) Here`s the schematic: As I came closer to completing the circuit design, it occurred to me that trying to solder all of these components on a simple prototyping circuit board would be onerous at best. (If you`ve ever done this kind of thing before, you know what

Homemade PC Boards
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

I`m talking about!) Typically, prototyping boards have a matrix of pads for placing components, but no embedded traces connecting components to each other (or, if they have pre-printed traces, they are usually not in the most useful places). So I began researching designing a printed circuit board specifically for this circuit. There`s a plethora of freeware available to download for this purpose; many packages come with schematic drafting software as well, and are able to link the PCB design to the schematic, which greatly assists with ensuring traces connect the correct pads. The package I chose was ExpressPCB and ExpressSCH; I like the interface and the company provides low-cost PCB board printing, if you`re willing to wait a little while for them. (For the record, I`m not endorsing their product or their company per se-it works for me, but it may not work for you. ) Then I got restless. I didn`t want to wait the month for ExpressPCB to print and ship my board. I wanted it right now! (I mean, the name of the company is "express, " after all. ) I remembered that a few months ago I had stumbled on a website with some crazy scheme for home-printing PC-boards, using some complex combination of laser printers, acids, and duct tape or something. So I did some additional researching and discovered that printing a PC-board at home is much simpler than I imagined, and significantly cheaper than having a professional shop do it,...

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