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Step By Step Instructions for Making A PCB At Home

By on September 1, 2017
make pcb circuit board at home










PCBs or printed circuit boards are an indispensable part of modern lives that are largely governed by electronic devices. This circuit board can rightly be called the soul of any device as it is on this board that the basic design of internal connections resides. One of the most promising ways to have better control over electronic devices at home is to learn making PCBs at home. This activity helps you understand deeply the printed circuit board design of the internal connections, and also help you detect and identify the flaws and faults by yourself.

To start with, let’s take a quick overview of the concept of Printed Circuit Board. Well, a printed circuit board (PCB) mechanically houses and connects electrically the electronic components which are actually made of conductive pads, tracks and others.  These components by the way of etching are picked from the copper sheets and laminated onto an insulated substrate. Since the printed circuit board is made of pre-defined copper tracks on a conducting sheet, these tracks reduce the wiring efforts and minimize the instances of faults likely to happen due to poor and loose connections. The PCB prototyping from Elecrow offers the network designer a readymade platform to place the components and stick them with soldering.

Materials you need for making PCBs at home

Here is a list of materials that go into making of PCB:

  • PCB board
  • Laser Printer
  • Drill machine
  • Ferric Chloride (Etching solution)
  • Cloth Iron
  • Photo paper / Glossy paper
  • Sand paper or Steel wool
  • Black permanent Marker
  • Soldering Iron

Stepwise procedure to build a PCB at home

The procedure is clear and can help you become the master of PCB Prototyping.

Step 1. We need PCB designing software to start the process. This software is helpful in converting the circuit schematic diagram into the designated layout. In this process, the Dip Trace Software for PCB designing is used.

make pcb at home

The PCB layout designed above is fit for a line follower robot and 2 sticks for the placement of IR sensors.

Step 2. Once the layout is finalized, its mirror image is captured in the form of a printout. This print is captured on a glazed paper or photo paper with the help of a laser printer.

Step 3. Following the capturing of mirror image, preparation of a Copper plate in accordance with the layout size is done. The copper plate or copper clad board is taken and cut in the shape of layout design.

how to make pcb

Step 4. Now, this copper plate is rubbed with steel wool or a scrape paper to make its surface rough. This roughened surface offers an ideal interface for sticking this photo paper on which the layout design is printed.

Step 5. The copper plate is placed on the printed design and then the paper is folded as shown in the figure below. Or PCB layout can be cut from the paper and placed on the copper plate with the printed side facing the plate. To keep the print in place, the sides of the copper plate can be sealed with the help of cello tape.

making your own pcb

Step 6. Now hot iron should be pressed against the paper for some time or slow ironing can also be done. The heat helps transfer the PCB design on to the copper plate. Let the copper plate cool. You may also require removing the paper in case it gets stuck on to the plate. This is done using warm water that helps remove the paper without interfering with the design layout on the copper plate. Once the copper plate is taken clearly out of paper, it looks something like this:

how to make your own pcb

It may happen that some lines of the design get faded while scraping the paper off the copper plate. With the help of permanent black marker, you can draw faded lines and complete the whole circuit.

Step 7. So, we reach the point when the circuit layout is now trapped under the black lines. We can get the complete circuit board by removing all the other copper leaving only the black lines. The copper under the black lines only is usable for getting the circuit board. This copper is retained by making use of etching process.

The etching process is carried out by making the etching solution. This solution is prepared by adding 2-3 tsps of Ferric Chloride solution in some water. The copper plate with black lines is immersed in this solution for about 30 minutes. The etching solution reacts with the exposed copper leaving the copper under the black lines protected. The process of immersing in etching solution is repeated till the whole of the exposed copper is removed. Finally, the copper plate with PCB is taken out of the solution and washed with cold water.

Step 8. Now the black lines are removed with the help of cotton soaked in acetone. It can also be scraped off with the help of steel wool. The shinier circuit design surfaces up by doing this. The circuit shows points where the components are to be placed. These points are drilled with the help of hand drill or hole maker like this:

how to drill pcb

how to drill your own pcb board

Step 9. Once this is done, the components are soldered on to this printed circuit board. All extra parts are removed with the help of cutter, and finally, the PCB looks something like this:

pcb board maker

make your own pcb board

So, this is how you can make PCB at home. A word of caution – Be very careful while handling the etching solution and using the cutting tools or soldering the components.

This article was prepared for you by Yi Tang from Elecrow. Elecrow, is a company devoted in open source hardware industry, located in Shenzhen, China. With an on-line store providing open source hardware products and cost-effective one-stop OEM/ODM solution from original prototyping to batch manufacturing (circuit design, PCB prototyping, components sourcing, PCB assembly, testing, packaging, shipping), Elecrow helps makers or startups bring ideas to life, assist enterprises to cope with supply chain job which makes them reduce cost and concentrate on development and marketing.

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  1. Albert

    September 1, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you for the good article Yi Tang. The procedure was known to me. But because I do not have (or want=> toner environment issues) a laser printer, it will not be a useful procedure for me. Add up the fact that no stores supply any boards either (a lot of shops and stores simply have gone). And using Ferric Chloride (also known as Iron III Chloride) is something I won't be using anymore either. The dissolved copper is an environmental problem, and you can't just pour it down the drain (legally) -- you're supposed to take it to a hazardous waste facility. And storing such agressive fluids at home is not smart either.
    It can be read in this good article :!--A-better-etc/
    According to this article you can make a better etchant yourself with products you can buy at every drugstore. AND the product is fast etching AND can be re-used over and over again after it accumulates copper in its chemical solution. And the article also explains in great detail how this works. I hope that this helps a bit from polluting the world.

    • Yi Tang

      September 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Albert, thanks for your kind remind about the potential environmental problem, and I totally agree to protect our environment wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Actually, every step in our PCB fabrication or assembly process is based on environment-friendly, in Elecrow there are professional operators and special devices in the place to deal with the waste materials for safety and quality.
      By the way, if you have any question or problem about PCB fabrication, PCB prototyping, assembly or other PCB services, we welcome you coming to for discussing, also, we are always happy to support you with good quality PCB services. Thank you for commenting.

  2. George Pinc

    September 2, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Hi Jestine,
    I have made many hundreds PC Boards, with proper photo resist,as I have been in development lab. even wit silk screening process, also with Positive 20 system. Also seen this process on interned. and have try it.
    But to be honest, is takes lots of time, and results are very poor.
    I would not recomend someone who is not experienced to rely on it.
    better for begginer to use Positive 20 process. If anybody is interested for details, you have my Email address.
    Regards George

    • Jestine Yong

      September 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Hi George,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.



    September 2, 2017 at 3:12 am

    Good i have tried this method as a matter of fact building audio amplifiers is my hubby and this is how i make my PC for my work in my shop.

  4. Venu Gopal

    September 4, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Super Post ....

  5. Yogesh Panchal

    September 7, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    YI Tang,

    Thanks for the article.

    • Yi Tang

      September 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Hi Yogesh, thanks for your comment, I'm glad you like it, you can come to for any PCB question or support.


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