Press and Peel - Methods Of Making Circuit Boards

Press and Peel Methods Of Making Boards

Press and Peel - Methods Of Making Circuit Boards
Tips By Pete Jenner, Sioux Falls, SD
I think I mentioned that laying out the schematic into Express PCB took the most time to learn, mainly because you have to add your own "custom" components so they don't cramp each other and leave sufficient room between each other on the board. I think all builders should do this because available/on-hand components are different sizes.

When I run out of these .001uF or .01uF capacitors, I'll have to check the board layout again for fit. Your advice: 'stand all the components upright' made everything a little easier. Transfering and etching the boards was also a new experience. There are a million small things to learn (i.e. when ironing, don't press down too hard on the transfer paper--it doesn't help and smears the traces). Let your readears know not to get discouraged. I made 4 transfers to copper PCB before I got one good one. I've also lost boards in the etching process when traces weren't dense enough. Tough. Do it again.


I will eventually try to get all of my electronics to fit into a "professional" looking enclosure. The attached image is a nice box sold by Memotronics(4.4"x2.2"x0.8"). It's small enough to fit 9V batteries, but I think my next transmitter will use the 4x AAA battery box since it also fits nicely and the transmitter will last longer. The boxes are also cheap at $3.49.
One last piece of advice to builders: my best supplier is Dan's Small Parts and Kits. He has almost everything to complete these projects in stock. Amazingly, Dan also answers the phone when you call.
Electronic Enclosure
Footnote: From John
Regarding the frustration mentioned above when someone initially starts out with the "Press and Peel" method of making their circuit boards, let me relate the method that I prefected years ago. First of all, go to your nearest flea market and purchase three or four of the old type flat irons - without the steam holes. Next plug them in one at a time - set to medium and use a temp gage and pick the iron that has the most continual heat range over the entire flat surface.

Next, you will need to make a Master Board out of 3/4 Plywood about a foot square. Make sure it is flat and smooth. This is the board where you will iron on your transfers. Next, prepare your copper board by using "Very Fine" steel wool and clean off the copper side of the board since it will have a thin film on the copper which happens when it is laying around. If you don't do this, your track lines and circles will be spotty and an overall crappy board. After you have cleaned the copper side, wash it using cascade or regular dish washing soap and it will come out sparkling clean. Then dry it with a soft kitchen paper towel.

Next, lay the copper board down onto the plywood and place your film over the copper. You never want the iron to come in direct contact with the film transfer - so place a regular piece of computer paper 8x10 directly over the film. Next set your iron to medium heat and let it warm up for a few minutes. Next, start ironing on the transfer ( computer paper over the transfer ) and use a smooth, continual pressure and iron in a circular motion rather than back and forth, etc.

Timing is everything so write down how long you spent, ie, 5 minutes etc. the temp range on your iron, etc. until your boards come out perfect. I have used this method for over 20 years and have always made perfect boards.

I usually make 5 to10 boards at a time and below I have shown an image from my last "Iron On" and filtered out everything but the layout itself to give you an idea of what my copper board looks like before I drop it into the Etchant tank. This particular board is my master for the XMT Transmitter shown on this site. It is 100% SMD ( Surface Mount ). Regarding "Standing the parts straight up", that makes for a smaller board.

I furthur reduced the size of my SMD Boards by standing all of my SMD components on edge, similar to razor blades rather than flat.

Hope the info Helps. John
FM Transmitter Circuit Board
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