@David : I have always run Tiny Cad with VeeCad and whilst the two do not forward and back anotate they seem to co-exist well.
I have just downloaded FreePCB and this is supposed to link with Tiny Cad output, so I shall now be trying this out. FreePCB is also linked to a Free router software so all this will be in the melting pot with me over the nex few weeks.
I must say that I didn't pursue the photo technique much further, soon reverting to good old ink & brush - at least as long as spare time for hobby lasted, that is, not for long.
Now in my daily job as an EE, sometimes during the prototyping stage of a new project when I need small PCBs made in short time and low cost, I have them made at a CNC mill service. Results are excellent, down to 8mils trace width / clearance.
Admittedly, tne new DIY techniques as toner transfer, P&P, and the like, are very intriguing. I ought to give them a try some day.
@dhlocker1, thanks for that info and link, I'll bounce over there when I have a second and take a look. Forums like that can often save you hours of experimentation and sometimes tears (as in wailing and gnashing of teeth :-) when you have problems with an existing tool or are trying to select a new one.
I'm surprised that this thread has not included mention of Kicad (a free (as in Free Beer and Free of License restrictions)), a suite of ECAD programs. Far better than Eagle (IMO - I never really "got" Eagle) and nearly as simple as Design Spark, without the vendor tie-in.
The homebrew PCBs Yahoo! group also has a wealth of information and knowledgable people. <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Homebrew_PCBs> who all do toner-transfer, positive and negative photoetch, isolation milling, and etching with FeCl, CuCl, Ammonium Persulphate, HCl/H2O2, strong coffee, ...
I do an occasional board, but nowhere near as many as I'd like. Kicad, toner transfer (with inkjet paper), HCl/H2O2, hand solder are my usual toolchain.
I have used the heat transfer method with many variations. I have also used the paper you have shared in your link. I used the TTP without the toner foil which provides the protection. The results were quite poor (given the cost of these products).
I have also used the iron rather than the laminator, which will make a difference. Obviouslu, one needs a good laser printer for this method to work as well.
I have used other (cheaper) glossy papers in the past and they have also worked well. I must warn that while getting rid of the paper, you will need to be patient while soaking and gently washing the paper off the PCB. If you rush this stage, you will damage the carbon tracks printed to the copper board!
I think the suppliers of heat transfer related products oversimplify the PCB developing process. This process does give good results but you need a lot of trial and error before you can perfect the technique to suit your needs.
No problem using the Bishop tape directly on the board, except that the edges are sometimes fuzzy because the glue seeps out from underneath the tape. A little scraping with an XActo knife fixes that. I use the knife to separate the pads on IC and connector patterns too. For very fine lines the Rubylith tape is better.
Actually the BEST of all DIY stuff was direct rub-down patterns that were like Letraset. The European one was called Ceresist, in the US Vector made it and called it Vectoresist. I wish they were still available.
I'm glad there are some other DIY PCB tragics out there. You should give the photo process a go if you can get Positiv20 or (better) presensitised boards. Get yourself a picture frame a bit bigger than the biggest board you will want to do. Remove the back and if necessary stick or otherwise fix the glass in place. Fix it on to a bit of wood a bit bigger again, with a hinge on one side. Where the picture should be put a bit of foam to hold your board against the glass. Get some way to hold it down while you're exposing (I just used a nut and bolt arrangement). You then have your exposure frame - just put the board and the positive on top of the foam and carefully close it. as above, 5 min for Pos20 or around 45 sec - 1 min for the presensitised stuff. Depends on the sunlight where you are. I'll try post a pic if you wish.
I tried Bishops direct on the board once - don't you find the etchant seeps underneath it? (mind you I got that with my old FeCl3 / HCL etchant which could probably dissolve stainless steel.... :-)
Blog Make a Frequency Plan Tom Burke 17 comments When designing a printed circuit board, you should develop a frequency plan, something that can be easily overlooked. A frequency plan should be one of your first steps ...