PCB Prototype
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PCB Prototype:

Rather than spending somewhere between $50-$300 for a prototyped PCB (printed circuit board), I found Tim in the ITLL building near the engineering center could help me out. The final cost $8. The amount of time spent - a whole lot more than expected.

I finally got around to building something that resembles a product.

Well, a little more like a product.

The PCB is just the yellowish board with a bunch of copper lines etched onto it.

Here is a good shot of the traces and the various parts - all hand soldered.

The layout is designed in a software package. The 'artwork' of lines is printed onto special photo paper. The paper is heated onto a sheet fiber glass with a solid layer of copper on top. The artwork is transferred onto the copper this way. Next, the copper is submerged in an etching solution to 'etch' away the copper that is left exposed (not covered by the ink). The trick is to pull the board out of the solution before the traces that should be there begin to etch away - a difference of only a few seconds.

The functionality was excellent. It would have worked immediately had the PCB been professionally made. But because Tim and I did this with 'home brew' equipment (only around $2000) some of the traces were bad and had to be patched.

And only after three days of trouble shooting did I find that one of my 'patches' was bad so I simply jumpered over it with a short piece of wire.

The control header attached to the LCD eval board.

A nice profile shot. Very small stuff.

It worked. Funny, I didn't really think it would. I guess I'll have to keep working on it. Hah!

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