Have you ever wondered about the fact that we are always surrounded by electronic gadgets?
From waking up to a phone alarm to getting your favorite ice cream from the freezer, we are surrounded by electronics when we go about our daily routine. But have you ever asked yourself, what do electronics consist of? Of course, you did! No? At least once you would have thought about it! It’s electronics! Human brains make artificial brains for their convenience! It’s all the designing, from the shape to its material to everything else in between.
What would you prefer? An ENIAC computer as large as a room or a computer as small as a tablet? I hope you all agree with me, you would prefer a tablet! That is only possible with small electronic components.
Yes, we have electronics embedded on a small board, which is known as the PCB.
Designing seems quite interesting, well it is, but this design that I am talking about here is PCB! Printed Circuit Board, also known as PCB, electrically connects the electronics components via conductive tracks, allowing current to flow through it, which is etched on copper sheets.
So, let's talk about it. Here, for making a PCB hardware, we need two things:
The part where the schematic and printed circuit board design pattern has to be designed as per user requirements. I have used Diptrace software, it is basically a CAD software where I made the schematic diagram for my project, and on the basis of that schematic diagram, we could make an organized design. Diptrace has four modules: Schematic Capture, PCB layout, Component Editor, and Pattern Editor, wherein, we have used only the first two.
Here, I have made the L298N motor driver PCB for our robot Encoder motors, which also has interrupt interfaced with NRF51-DK.
For constructing a PCB, other than the components, one also needs the copper sheets where the components would be mounted and the copper solution, where the board would be immersed for etching the copper onto the non-conductive substrate.
PCB IN MAKING:
So, after our PCB design was ready, we got it printed on the toner transfer paper. Now, the size of our PCB, that is, the outline in our design was (63.67) x (43.03) mm. We have to mark the dimensions on the copper sheet with a marker and get it cut by drilling it, keeping the rotary drill bit. After getting this cut, one must clean the copper sheet with toner (Acetone) and then keep the printed design paper on the copper sheet in an upside-down manner, it must fit perfectly on the snipped sheet.
Now, for getting the tracks and the design transferred to the copper sheet, we must keep the copper sheet at a high temperature up to 180-220 degrees Celsius and the temperature must be elevated for about two to three minutes. If the temperature has been transferred properly, the paper on the copper sheet must be removed with the help of water slowly, and this might take time, so one requires patience for this.
At this point, a good question to ask is, can the design on the board be seen clearly?
After that, we have to immerse the printed board in the copper solution for some time, till the non-conductive substrate is clearly visible and only the design gets printed. In other words, only when the copper is etched completely onto our design and in the part of the board where it wasn't required it is removed, by being diluted in the copper solution.
Now, the points where the components have mounted like capacitors/resistors/transistors, etc, that must be drilled in two steps, with a hand manual drill called as PCB push hand drill (Micro drill), for marking the point where the drill with the help machine has to be done. It just provides external support. And after doing that, drill it with the PCB drill machine with a 0.8-1 mm drill bit.
After successful drilling, mount all the components and solder them.
Figure 1: The making of PCB
And here it is, the PCB is ready for use. A view of our PCB layout on the Diptrace software can be seen below:
Figure 2: Diptrace PCB layout
With a PCB board, there is a circuit so I can easily solve any issues that may arise. If you are interested in learning more about PCB, check out A Practical Guide to High-Speed PCB Layout.
For complex PCBs I suggest to use a cheap PCB vendor - i.e. from China.For simple once I use my CNC for isolation milling the traces - like other makers do as well.You can build a simple one for that purpose like the PCB Cyclone
This is a good start, but I prefere KiCAD for schematics and layout w/o limitations.https://www.kicad.org/