Tips for building circuit boards

printed circuit board assembly

There are a few different methods a person can use when creating a printed circuit board (PCB), including doing the assembly him or herself. Another method include drawing the holes, pads and wire connection for the circuit and then sending it out to a manufacturer for assembly. Either way, the process of assembly is similar, and it is easier to do by oneself than it sounds.



Schematics

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Before anything can be done in the creation of a printed circuit board assembly, a schematic must be drawn up. This drawing shows exactly how the circuit board is to be built, including specific designs on where wires and components will be placed. Design software is available to help with any circuit board schematic drawings.



Layout

Once the schematic is complete it is time to transfer the diagram into a drawing of the PCB. There are computer programs that will assist in turning schematics into layout drawings. It is important to have patience and take time during this step of the design process.



circuit board assembly

Use a plain board purchased from a retailer that has a fine layer of copper on one side. Print the drawing on a blue sheet of transfer paper and place against the copper side of the board. Place a plain white piece of paper over the blue paper, then carefully iron over both onto the board until the drawing is completely transferred onto the copper. Once cool peel away the paper and allow to dry.



Etching

Use ferric chloride to etch away exposed parts of the copper from the circuit board. Make sure to wear gloves, mask, old clothes and safety goggles with etching circuit boards. Once done, thoroughly wash the circuit board under running water.



Holes

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If needed, drill 0.03 inch component holes for any leads needed to attach to the circuit board. Make sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and mask when drilling holes into the board.



Soldering

Once the board is clean and scrubbed, it is time to connect any leads and wires. Using a soldering tool, carefully attach any wires or components to the PCB.



It is possible to someone to assemble their own printed circuit boards. With a little creativity, electrical know-how and patience, the circuit board will be completed and ready to install.