How to Make a Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
- 1 Using KiCAD
- 2 Creating the PCB Artwork (with Film)
- 3 Making the Board
- 4 Using gEDA
For those who want a detailed, visual, walk-through of the KiCad program, this series of 10 youtube videos demonstrates a KiCad project form start to finish.
The first steps in using KiCad.
Eeschema is the first program you'll use, where you'll create a digital copy of your circuit diagram and assign footprints to the different components. This will allow you to generate a netlist, which will be read into Pcbnew.
The Footprint Editor program may or may not be necessary but it allows you to draw new footprints or edit preexisting footprints. Footprints are necessary for every different component of your circuit, so the footprint editor becomes necessary if the footprint for your component is not already in one of the KiCad footprint libraries.
Pcbnew is the program used after Eeschema. Pcbnew allows you to design the physical layout of your PCB and draw the copper connections between the your different components. All the information about the different connections and components is saved in the netlist so be sure to complete and upload your netlist before you begin.
Gerbview is a program where you can upload and view Gerber and Drill files. These files make up the different layers of the PCB and making checking for mistakes easier. Ultimately, you'll use these files to print the different layer transparencies when you make your PCB.
Creating the PCB Artwork (with Film)
While it is possible to use a printer to print transparencies for the different layers of your board, printing the layers on film will yield the best results. Using a printer to print transparencies results in poor resolution, bad contrast, and poor optical density. These three issues are resolvable by developing your artwork on a specific type of film, called lithographic film, or lith film.
To make a film copy, you want to start with a high resolution paper copy. This paper copy will be used later to transfer the paper image onto the lithographic film in a process called "contact printing". The film from the contact print will then be developed.
To create the film print and develop it you'll need to use the darkroom in the Craft Center (found on the ground floor of the EMU). Developing in the darkroom is an involved process with many steps; be sure to read through the whole process before you go and if possible go with someone experienced.
Making the Board
How to cut the PCB properly.
How to properly test and cut glass. This step is necessary if you do not have a sheet of glass to place on top of your PCB during the UV curing Process.
How to set up the UV chamber for PCB development.
How to remove the layer of resist from the PCB.
How to etch the copper from the PCB.
How to drill holes in the PCB and solder the components. If you have surface mount devices (SMDs) this will also instruct you on how to apply solder paste and use the reflow oven.
This tutorial is not as robust as the KiCAD tutorial, but it has some useful resources if you want to use gEDA.