I've done everything you described myself (apparently we are exactly the same age and had the same resources), except for making my own ferric chloride. My high school chemistry teacher would give me some. Later as a university student I worked at a small electronics manufacturer and learned of ammonium persulphate. Much better in my opinion.
I still make my own pcbs. However I could never get the photo process to work, positive OR negative. In fact all these years later I still have an almost-full quart bottle of Kodak negative resist. I had the whole works, UV lamps, light table, exposure frame, darkroom with red lights, and it just never worked. Negatives would be fogged, and the traces from the positive resist technique would be fuzzy. So I continue to use up all the Bishop Graphics tapes and IC patterns and the 3M Rubylith by sticking them directly to my blank board then etching. It works.
I've been an ELEKTOR subscriber for 35 years and made many of their "old style" boards. I prefer that approach for my own boards to this day because it uses less etchant!
All this brings back old memories of ferric chloride stains and blue fingers, indeed!
I had a pcb pen, but the results were rather poor, as the ink didn't survive much to the etchant. I had a preference for using a thick, gummy, messy blue ink that came in medicine-like bottles from a local supplier, using the finest-pointed brush that I could find. Results were fairly good at times, even if often requiring a little reworking here and there. I also managed to etch a double-layer circuit a couple of times. I must still have all these somewhere in the basement!
Some electronics magazine included a layout for their pcb, that I transferred (as a drawing guide) from the magazine page to the copper-clad board with the aid of a veeery vaxy, dirty, sticky blue carbon paper sandwiched between the two. Too bad this precious, old fashioned item soon disappeared from the local market, replaced by a new "improved" carbon paper proudly advertised as non-staining, but alas, completely useless for the purpose..
For one of my first experiments with photoresist I managed to have a copy of the pcb layout on acetate, thanks to a relative who had access to a xerox copier at work - they were a luxury at the time. All went quite well, the pcb was etched, drilled, and I begun assembling the circuit, whose main component was a big DIL chip..only to discover that the photocopying process had somehow shrunk the pattern..and I had all the pitches wrong!
Hi Max, Crusty.... I also had a look at Vee-cad and it does look tasty. If I had a dollar for every hour I've spent working out veroboard layouts, I'd be rich enough to buy a couple of rounds. Max, I'll add it to the list. As always, don't hold your breath.....
@David, I like the idea of Veroboard being in the realms of a spark gap transmitter. got myself into a moderate trouble by building a spark gap transmittero on Veroboard and opertaing it, as a teenager.
I have found a good marriage in TinyCad and VeeCad for Veroboard layout. They are cheap or donation supported and do not take up much disk space, so I like them as a tool.
I think I am going to stick with learning to use RS Design Spark for my PCB's, as it's no cost and no limitations at the level I need and the fabrication is resonably low cost. it also has 3D view built in, which I find I need to visualise component placement for mistakes.
I should have an 8 digit alphanumeric display (calculator style led bubble) working on the Papilio One, as a Veroboard shield in my next blog on APP, I will publish circuit drawing and VeeCad layout with the blog.
I think I may like the Fritzing system for PCB design especially as it is open source. Their StripBoard (Veroboard) option, is however very slow on large prototype boards. I do however like the Breadboard to Schematic to PCB approach, they are using.
I also like Eagle but find the free versions limitations to be too limiting.
Hi Grover1.....I've thought about getting some of those SMD adapter boards as I got some very nice SMD audio compressor ICs off some old radio boards. Theoretically I could make my own - Niche PCB designer can do stuff like that - but probably cheaper and less hassle to buy.
I've also seen some shockers with mains on veroboard. I DID do it myself once, but actually stripped a couple of whole tracks off either side of the live one and took out 3 or 4 holes with my cutter, I still was not happy.
For a good veroboard cutter you need a 4 mm Drill, 3mm might leave a trace of copper on the side and then you have problems....And mine's in a nice holder to give you some torque.
Dave you are not the only 'dinosaur' out there! I still use veroboard for prototyping, but the crepe tape, UV light box, and caustic soda / hot ferric chloride baths have not been out for a few years now. You talked about SMD - my solution was to find an ebay supplier of SMD to 0.1 pitch adapter boards to interface to veroboard :-) Though hand-soldering the devices in place has taken some practice...
In my time I have seen some veroboard monsters though, sorry to say but they have been mainly from hobbyists or apprentices. The classic is 240VAC mains wired straight into the veroboard to a flatpack-mounted transformer, with the copper tracks intact except for one small break by a hand-twisted 3mm drill, the tracks then running under the transformer into the secondary low-voltage side!
David - I expect that I had considerably easier access to documents than you did, but I still had to drive an hour and a half and promise voluminous future purchases to get one the the many data books I ended up with.
@Duane... Vero board, to you, would be akin to spark transmitters. Nevertheless for guys like me it has its place. I was looking at Crusty's recommended Vee-cad, which works out layouts for you, and might give that a go.
Ref your documentation searches. I occasionally think about how complicated our lives are with internet and mobile phones and stuff, but then I think of the time I spent trying to get datasheets in those days, As you say, usually it's a couple of clicks now But I still think these things are double-edged swords....