Circuit Skills: Circuit Board Etching with Collin Cunningham

MAKE Magazine is loaded with exciting projects that help readers make the most of technology in creative and unique ways. Contributing writer Collin Cunningham just released this great video that teaches you how to etch your own circuit board. The vast majority of printed circuit boards (PCB's) are made by bonding a layer of copper over the entire substrate, then removing unwanted copper after applying a temporary mask (by etching), leaving only the desired copper traces.

While Jameco sells breadboards for those that don't have the itch to etch, you might want to take a look at Collin's video by clicking on the image below. Of course, an etched circuit board is the most accurate way to build a circuit and gives the designer much more flexibility. What Collin teaches us is that we no longer have to send our designs away to a PCB manufacturer, we can now do it ourselves, and have fun at the same time.

Although there are three popular "subtractive" methods (to remove copper) used for the production of PCB's, this video uses photoengraving. Collin creates a photomask and chemical etching to remove the copper foil and laser-printed transparencies for photo tools using Jameco's etching supply kit below:

The kit (2113244) includes:

1. (2) 3" x 4" Pre-Coated Circuit Boards (156751)
2. (1) Positive Developer (for pre-sensitized circuit boards) (156734)
3. (1) 32 oz. Bottle of Etch Solution (616438)


Collin then drills his circuit board using Jameco's Mini Drill Bit Kit below. The entire process takes less than an hour to complete.

The Mini Drill Bit kit (2113252) includes:

1. Mini Drill Stand (26702 & 26711)
2. Drill Bit (1919561 & 16580)

Mini Drill Bit Kit

Eventually, the drilled board is scrubbed-up and ready for soldering. Finally, as we wrap-up the video, we get Collin's personal endorsement for making your own PCB: "Heart!"