Transferring the PCB Mask to Copper Clad Board
There are three popular methods of creating PCBs at home:
- Using a photo-resist pen to hand draw the PCB mask on copper clad board.
- Copy the PCB mask to a transparency sheet, then using specially sensitized PCB materials, transfer the image on to the photo sensitized PCB material with light.
- Use iron-on transfers to get the PCB mask on to copper clad board.
We have found that the best method for most home builders is option three, so we will be mostly discussing that method here. There are other internet resources that discuss option two if you are interested.
We don’t know of an easier, more reliable way to get the layout on to printed circuit board than with Techniks Press-n-Peel Blue Transfer Film. They have a wonderful How to page for beginners. It may seem expensive, but if building PCBs is an on-going hobby, it will be well worth the price. It can also be purchased from most good electronics catalogs in packages of 5 sheets. Follow the Press-n-Peel Blue instructions to get the layout onto the copper clad board.
Keep in mind that if you use a transfer method, you need to use the reverse image of the PCB mask. This is why all of the PCB images on www.generalguitargadgets.com have the PCB images in reverse. Print out the “Ready for Transfer” board layout PDF file for the project you want. You can print on a laser printer directly to a sheet of Press-n-Peel Blue or print them out and photocopy to Press-n-Peel Blue. See the instructions that come with the Press-n-Peel and the links we’ve provided on my “Read-This-First” page to see how to do the iron on transfer.
If the Press-n-Peel does not completely transfer, which sometimes happens, we use a Speedball Painter (Fine) to touch up any area that didn’t transfer. These are available at craft or fabric stores. It draws a fine line with heavy paint that dries quickly and is the perfect solution for touchups. Any color will work. Sharpie pens are sometimes recommended for this, but we have never found them to work very well. The etchant usually eats through the sharpie ink, at least to some extent.