Are there companies that will etch a one-off PCB for me?

There’s a project that I want to make and I have the artwork for the PCB, plus the parts list etc but I don’t have the equipment to make up the PCB; I don’t particularly want to lay out a pile of cash for a one-off (I’m not too keen about having the chemicals about the house either); are there companies that deal with one-offs for amateur projects at reasonable prices? (All I can find on the net is companies that seem geared up to much higher specifications(it’s just a small single-sided board) or production runs and this is going to cost more than buying the kit myself)

I thought about trying to use stripboard or wirewrap, but the project is a PSU and apart from the fuss of redesigning it for that format, I’d have to be careful about overloading the tracks etc.

I should mention that I’m in the UK, but as it’s only a bare board and the layout is a PDF, it hardly matters, as long as the company is prepared to ship internationally.

As long as the traces are reasonably fat, you might try this.

These guys looked like they would do what you want for not a whole lot of money.

google with “printed circuit board prototyping” turned up a whole bunch of links that look good.

A PDF is not the usual file format for these things but I am sure you are not the only one with a PDF file.

ahh making your own circuit boards, brings back fond memories of when I free time before kids.

express PCB will do what you want for
$50. Hey for that money you could buy a PSU, but that was never the point of home electronics.

If it is a simple PSU then doing it on a perforated board system , or bread board is much simpler, + you can use thick wires. Looks a little messier.

Making your own boards is not too difficult - the only “chemical” needed is ferric chloride (will irritate bare skin but wear gloves), but for a complicated board the best way is to photodevelop it which I have never tried

good luck.

I should have mentioned that the PSU is an AT/ATX computer power supply that accepts 12v as the input (so I can run the thing from a car battery without using a combination of inverter and ordinary PSU and all the inefficiency that implies). There doesn’t seem to be any such commercial product.

The press and peel film looks favourite I think and I can get one of those one-shot etch-in-a-ziploc kits to etch the thing, then dispose of it immediately afterwards.

I’d like to know if you succed. It’s just the thing that I’ve been looking for to defeat some crackers who delight in breaking through anything I concoct.

Talking to the Staples guy a few years ago, we concluded that running directly off of a deep-cycle 12v battery should keep them out.

That was before wireless, though. :frowning:

Still, it sounds marketable. Are you planning?

We use these guys for low volume PCBs:

They’re in Alberta, Canada.

Mangetout: I have used the “press and peel” stuff, works great.

In fact, I have a good bit of it at the house now, as well as all the other stuff needed to make circuit boards.

Maybe I could make a board for ya and send it over.

Anyway, I think I have enough of everything left to make more boards. I am at work at the moment.

btw, my email IS available in my profile.

What is a PSU?

Power Supply Unit. ** Mangetout**, just out of curiosity I’d like to know the general design idea. You could design sevral independent power suplies, one for each voltage or maybe use the output part of a computer PSU and design the input part to charge the capacitors… hmmm

By the way, I used to mess with the ferrous stuff and it stains what it touches and even what it doesn’t touch. For projects which required large copper areas I successfully would cut out copper lines with some tool like a blade saw. It is slower but a lot cleaner than chemicals. I never liked perfboard except for ICs and small stuff.

I’m building a robot which will function autonomously as a sort of ‘guard dog’; I want to take advantage of the expandability of the PC; microcontrollers simply aren’t going to be up to the job; I salvaged a pentium 133 PC in a desktop case which, when I opened it up, is half full of air, so I hacked the case about and I now have a very compact computer which still has all the usual ports, plus two ISA and PCI slots, plus two USB ports, which is going to be great for interfacing all of the control hardware. The device is going to run off a collection of lead-acid 12v batteries (I’m using multiple small ones because I got them surplus and I can spread them out in a layer and hang them under the chassis, which will add stability).
IBM PC power supplies provide +12v, +5v, 0v, -5v and -12v feeds, it would be horrendously inefficient to use a step up 12 to 240v inverter and then use the original AT PSU to step it back down again; I’m buiding a robot, not a heater!

Anyway, I found This site which has some designs for a computer PSU that runs from 12v.

I have 90% of the parts and I have started to assemble the thing, but the PSU is still a requirement.

scotth If you’re serious about that offer, it would be most kind - thanks! I’ll email you to discuss it.

For extremely simple work, electronics stores (eg Radio Shack) supply a breadboard that consists basically of a gridwork of copper traces which you can sever until just the connections you need remain. Keep in mind this is single sided technology.

For anything with plated thru-holes and especially multiplayer technology you need to get a prototype done. Almost as a rule, this is not cheap, and you are going to be asked for artwork. If you need more extensive help, feel free to email. I can give you contacts and tell you what the artwork needs to look like etc.

Quite serious. Just need to check my supplies. That probably won’t happen til tomorrow at the earliest though. When I get off work I will be taking step daughter out for 21st b-day dinner and then to a Dallas Stars hockey game. It will probably be bed time (at least) by the time this is done.

I know I have plenty of single and double sided board. I have plenty of etching solution. I am pretty sure I have sheets of the iron on resist left.

I will just need the pdf file. It is super simple to do, just put the sheet in the paper bin on the laser printer, send the pdf to the printer, iron on to the pcb, and dunk in etching bath.

I have had very good results in the past.

Doing a double sided board is a bit tricky to get lined up perfectly, but doable. I can’t do plated through holes. But, it isn’t very hard to solder both sides of the board where a lead goes through. Plated through is only important if you want to use automated soldering. You can always get around it when soldering by hand.

Scott, that would be so kind; I’ll email you the PDF; it’s only single-sided and the tracks are really broad (they have to be because of the current), and it isn’t desperately urgent either.