Toner transfer for PCBs

Last Thursday I read on Dangerous Prototypes forum about doing making PCBs by printing on vinyl and heat transferring to PC board, then etching. Vinyl was reported to transfer 100% of the toner easily, better than the sheets designed for the purpose. Since I was in need of a board, Andrew had recently gotten some vinyl at the space, and there’s a laminating machine there, it seemed worth a try.
The process is simple: laser print the circuit on some vinyl sheet that’s glued to a piece of paper, then run both the printed piece and a blank board through the laminator to transfer the toner to the copper. Paul Reich just finished a circuit board design that looked pretty challenging to etch, so that seemed a good test.
Initially I worried that putting the vinyl through the laser printer might be a little risky. Running a few small patches through didn’t show any obvious issues. The vinyl for the vinyl cutter isn’t ideal: it could be a little thinner and it’s nearly opaque so it’s hard to see whether the image is on the board.
The first quick test was quite encouraging.

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Although far from perfect, in the areas that transferred the detail was quite good. Since the board hadn’t been cleaned and the board was only run through the laminator once, results were better than expected.
Saturday back at the space, I thought to try some other materials instead of borrowing the supplies for the vinyl cutter, and try some ways of cleaning the copper. Browsing the hardware turned up some Con-Tact low-tack shelf paper that seemed to be vinyl, as well as steel wool and polishing compound to clean the copper.
The shelf paper didn’t work out, as it didn’t stick to paper enough to go through the printer. Steel wool and polishing compound both appeared to clean the copper pretty well.
After some further experiments, Paul and were able to make a couple of double sided boards that were good enough to use for some of the tests we were hoping for.

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WOYB – Prototyping arduino sensors

Workshop 88 member Jim Williams shared these breadboard photos for our “What’s on Your Breadboard series

This board had a electret microphone with preamp on it, for use in an arduino class that we ran. As you can see, he eventually put the circuit onto a PCB.

Image credit: Jim Williams

Image credit: Jim Williams

The second breadboard shows that sometimes a breadboard is just a convenient way to connect one sensor to an arduino. In this case, it was an ultrasonic rangefinder that Jim wanted to test with the arduino. He reported that it worked well.

Image credit: Jim Williams

Image credit: Jim Williams

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WOYB – Intervalometer

DSCN0002 SmallOne of our newest friends of Workshop 88, Lewis, posted this awesome project he’s prototyping on the breadboard.  It’s an intervalometer for a camera. Here’s how Lew described it:

“The camera is too new to hack, so I made a holder out of 1/8” plywood for an RC servo that would slip onto the camera body and could be held in position with a couple of thumbscrews.  An Arduino micro controls the servo and handles the timing.  The project is still in the breadboard stage.  I’ll probably add an LCD and either an encoder or joystick switch so that I can change the time interval when I’m on the road.”

 

Thanks, Lew!  What’s on your breadboard?

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WOYB – Tiny85 BlingBoard

Workshop 88 member Jim Williams shared a few of his breadboards with us for our WOYB feature.  Here’s one:

Image credit: Jim Williams

Image credit: Jim Williams

He says: “This is the proto for a Tiny85 “bling board”, trying to run as much stuff as possible on a Tiny85. It will be the opening demo for the Tiny85 class (which will actually happen Real Soon Now).”

Stay tuned for details on that class!

What’s on Your Breadboard?

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New feature: What’s on your breadboard? (WOYB)

Every maker that dabbles in electronics has a breadboard or two (or three, or fourteen) with current and prior projects on them.  In the spirit of sharing with our community, we asked on the email list a simple question: “What’s on your breadboard?”

Over the next few days, we’re going to feature some of the replies here on the blog.

First up is Workshop 88 member Karl who shared a photo of his breadboard with an array of LEDs on it. His project is developing a countdown timer with a visual representation given by the LEDs. He pointed out the button which never seems to stay on the breadboard.

Image credit: Karl Knutson

Image credit: Karl Knutson

Thanks for sharing, Karl!

What’s on your breadboard?

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More on the toroid “cheat” hack

Remember Jim’s toroid hack that he posted here last week?  It was featured on hackaday, which was really cool to see.

Jim updated his post to his own blog to include some measurements of the effect of breaking the magnet to get the wire wrapped on to it.

He used a simple RL circuit to measure the inductance of the toroid. Very neat to see some values to compare the glued vs. unbroken magnets.

Thanks, Jim!

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Toroid winding

Inspired by Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru, when Jim was faced with the near-impossible task of winding hundreds of turns of wire through a toroid core, he cheated. :)

By cleanly breaking the core in half and gluing one half to a spindle chucked in an electric drill, the winding became fairly easy.  Super gluing the halves together afterward produced a magnetically and physically sound toroid again.

Several folks at the space helped Jim with his experiment, holding wire, counting turns, operating the drill, and of course taking pictures.  Many thanks to Ti Leggett for his efforts and skills as the photographer.  There are more details in Jim’s project notes, but here’s the video:

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