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Ferric Cholride and other etchants

:: EPE Chat Zone ­:: ­Radio Bygones Message Board :: » EPE Forum Archives 2005-2006 » Archive through 06 April, 2006 » Ferric Cholride and other etchants « Previous Next »

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Amr_bekhit
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Post Number: 170
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Posted on Wednesday, 15 March, 2006 - 08:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Hi all!

Just some thoughts here. I used to use ferric chloride when making pcb's a while ago, and then switched to another type of etchant mainly because of the staining effects of ferric, and also because the other type says it's safer. I'm don't know what this particular etchant is called, but the datasheet says it contains Sodium Persulphate and Sodium Hydrogen Sulphate. On the tub, it says Press and Peel etch powder.

Anyway, I've recently come to the conclusion that this really isn't the best option for a hobbyist, my reasons being as follows: I've noticed that when I make a solution of the etchant the bottle I store it in starts to swell after a few weeks. Loosening the cap causes the bottle to emit the tell-tale sound of gas escaping. I reckon this may be becuase the solution is decomposing over time, like hydrogen peroxide does. This is bad because, as a hobbyist, I don't exactly make PCB's on a daily basis and so when I next come to make a PCB, the solution has decomposed and barely effective. And as for the staining, well, it may not stain, but it bleaches like hell, although in all fairness, I guess I ought to wash any spillages with loads of water first but...

So I've gone back to the ole' ferric chloride. From my little experience, it keeps in its bottle so I can use it as often as I need. Any thoughts?

--Amr
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Cherrytree
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Posted on Wednesday, 15 March, 2006 - 10:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

}
Hi Amr,
wish I could help there amr, but never made a PCB ever... but if your happy with the previous chemical, I would stick with that.. thats only my opinion ok.. good luck..
From
CT.
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Obiwan
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Posted on Thursday, 16 March, 2006 - 12:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

You should try hydrogen peroxide and muratic acid.

Very good, and very cheap. Doesn't stain. And if you're concerned about it, you can regenerate it also.

Hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach), goes for about a buck or two a bottle here, and you can get a gallon of muratic acid at the home store for a couple of bucks.

I've had very good sucess with it. It's almost clear so you can see what you're doing (turns a slight green, but still clear). And "scrubbing" the board while you etch it makes it go that much faster.

Ferric is just too nasty for me. You're right about the stains, and you can't see while it etches. If you make it from a powder, it can boil over badly or even scald you. And I don't think it lasts very long.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Jpcote
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Posted on Friday, 17 March, 2006 - 06:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

>You should try hydrogen peroxide and muratic acid.

Obiwan, if I wanted to make a batch, what proportions of hydrogen peroxide and muratic acid would I use.

Are these chemicals sold at 100% pure or is the hydrogen peroxide 35% for example?

Is the muratic acid used for pools?

If I were asking for these chemicals in a local store up here, I think the clerk would ask me these questions. I know nothing about them and I am just trying to get informed.

Thanks,
JP.
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Grab
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Posted on Friday, 17 March, 2006 - 12:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

AFAIK, sodium persulphate goes off over time. Ferric has many drawbacks, but it's pretty much stable over time, so your bottle/tank of ferric will keep for ages.

Graham.
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Obiwan
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Posted on Friday, 17 March, 2006 - 02:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

They were standard off the shelf stuff. I think the acid is used in pools, but not sure. I normally find it near the concrete section, or near a bunch of other chemicals.

And the HP is normal 3%. This is a volume measurment, so if you needed a higher percentage, you can just use more.

The Muriatic Acic is something like 38% hydrochloroic acid.

As I remember it was two thirds HP and one third Muratic Acid.

I believe that this is called Copper Cupric or something etchant. There was a lot of info on the web about it. I'll try to find some links if I still have them.

But as I remember, to regenerate it, you just had to "oxygenate" it again. Some used bubble tanks and some used some chemical.

After a while, you had to get the copper back out of it, and some people were even recycling it. But I'm not sure how they did that part of it.

But it pretty much lasted forever.

While you're etching, if you feel it's not going as fast as it once did, you can add a cap full of HP to it to get it going again, as this adds the oxygen to it. Sort of regenerating it.

I think it keeps a long time, if not, it's cheap.

Oh yeah, it will do a nasty number on aluminum also.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Pwillard
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Posted on Monday, 20 March, 2006 - 04:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I use the Muriatic Acid and Peroxide as well (The Hydrochloric Acid solution is commonly used as a Cement Etchant, used to prep for before painting)

In fact, everything I now do, I learned from here: http://www.fullnet.com/u/tomg/gooteepc.htm

READ IT.

NOTE: Do it outdoors. The initial fumes that occur when the solution is mixed 1/3rd Muriatic Acid with 2/3rds Hydrogen peroxide are rather nasty. Wear rubber gloves as well.

I prefer it for it's clarity as well as it's speed and the fact that it does not need an elevated temperature to perform optimally.

The solution is fine if kept in plastic, but is made pretty harmless when diluted with lots of water.

ONLY use it around plastics, or metals you don't care to mess up. This solution is otherwise known as a metal pickling solution ( Pickling is the removal of oxides from the surface of metals by converting these to soluble compounds ).

Pete
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Sounded_simple
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Posted on Monday, 20 March, 2006 - 11:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

For larger PCBs if you can afford it and you can wait the best thing is to get it made by someone like PCB pool.
The results are better than with chemicals plus you dont have the mess (I have ruined more than one stainless steel sink myself)

Its not for everyone but if you combine a few pcbs onto one file it can be worth looking at.
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Amr_bekhit
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Posted on Monday, 20 March, 2006 - 07:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I agree. I've seen those companies when I was doing a search for free PCB software, since they nearly always provide some software to do your PCB's in. I reckon the only reason why I do it at home is simply because I enjoy it. Mind you, I'll keep that it mind...could come in handy one day.

--Amr
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Obiwan
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Posted on Monday, 20 March, 2006 - 08:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I'd like to try it one day, but I guess I would wait until I have something "worth" doing.

Most of mine are one shot deals, like that LC meter or something.

If I had a board that I needed several of, I'd really consider it.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Pwillard
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Posted on Saturday, 25 March, 2006 - 02:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

AMR,

I have beome completely fed up with the free PCB tools available.

If you are doing "one-shot" boards as I do, you may eventually want to invest in some tools geared to hobbyists. I struggled for a long time with the limitations of Eagle PCB and finally tried ABACOM's SPLAN and SPRINT LAYOUT.

I would never spend more than $100 for software I use for hobby. Abacom seems to know that.
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Mikehibbett
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Posted on Saturday, 25 March, 2006 - 05:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

>I struggled for a long time with the limitations of Eagle PCB

I find eagle cad fantastic. OK, the freeware version is only 1/2 eurocard sized and two signal layers, but that hasn't been an issue for me yet. The free plug-ins that you can get for it are great too. I particuarly like the 3D PCB image generator - takes a .brd file and gives you a POV ray file that you can render. Like this one here of a board that I recently generated:

www.drivesentinel.co.uk/imgs/magreader.jpg

Generated automatically with just a few mouse clicks.

If there are any other limitations you have come across I would like to hear about them, in case I just haven't hit them yet :o)

Mike.
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www.drivesentinel.co.uk - Home build GPS Speed Camera Detectors
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Joe
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Posted on Saturday, 25 March, 2006 - 09:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Mike,
How did you do that with Eagle?

I use Eagle and havn't seen that feature. It looks really cool...

Joe
Do one thing each day that scares you – work here !
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Mikehibbett
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Posted on Saturday, 25 March, 2006 - 09:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Hi Joe.

It's a 'user language program' that you can download, copy to your eagle cad directory and just run like any other ulp. You can get it here.

http://www.matwei.de/doku.php?id=en:eagle3d:eagle3d

Mike.
-----
www.drivesentinel.co.uk - Home build GPS Speed Camera Detectors
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Magnum4
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Posted on Saturday, 25 March, 2006 - 10:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Hi Guy`s,
Afraid I too use Eagle, I have the student Licence, But I bought it just for one PCB, Anyway I have it should I ever Need it again
I agree with Mike I find it very powerful and after the initial learning curve its easy enough to use. There are a few annoying things but thats the same with everything.I really wouldnt hesitate to recommend it, and look athe ULP`s in the download section for many usefull add ons.
HTH
Regards,
Jim
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Pwillard
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 04:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Heaven forbid we discuss anything but Eagle and Pics here... ;-)

I was merely mentioning that there are hobbyist geared tools that do a fine job.

Eagle is geared toward professionals and the full version is not hobbyist priced if you want to get away from the size limitation. Letting other people create scripts and parts for you is fine if you are patient. Making your own is daunting.

I also own AUTOTRAXEDA (not the free version), and while I find it's user interface much more friendly, it's not got the extensive library that Eagle has.

Both of the above products demand that you invest time learning how to use them. The Abacom tools I mentioned have them beat for their simplicity. (A simplicity many would find faults with, I'm sure)

For a once-off project, simplicity is key to going from test bench to final prototype in a very short time.

pw

(Message edited by pwillard on 26 March, 2006)

(Message edited by pwillard on 26 March, 2006)
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Jpcote
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 06:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Would it be easy enough to use the student version of Eagle and create a single sided PCB and print the board pattern to a laser printer to iron-on a printed circuit board to make a one of.

I have used the student version of Eagle before. I drew a very simple circuit then tried to make a single sided pcb only to be left struggling with a double sided one. Eagle complicated things and put vias and traces on two sides of the board. I gave up trying to use it.

JP
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Terrym
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 07:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I've got several of the big name PCB CAD programs but use ABACOM's programs 99% of the time. I find that, unless you're doing a million layer board for a moom shot rocket, all the big name products are overkill and I just couldn't get along with Eagle at all.
TM
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Magnum4
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 03:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Hi Pete, Sorry If it seemed like i was knockong ABACOM. I really wasnt.
I had a hard time with eagle too early on, But I find it very quick now, Loads of libraries and loads of useful tools like the ULP`s, and it is free with free updates


Jean-Paul , When you go to rout the pcb with the autorouter Just select n/a to the top layer and Eagle will rout a silgle sided board no problem

Yes Terry I agree with you But i only use the simple parts of the prog and it works well for me
If anyone is trying to use Eagle and have a problem post on the board, Im sure someone can help.Same for the Others

(Message edited by magnum4 on 26 March, 2006)
Regards,
Jim
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Pwillard
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 05:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Magnum,

No issues with PCB software discussion, I'm just trying to make it clear that free is not always ideal, and that there are actually some low cost alternatives.

Here's a question:

Is ferric chloride more dangerous or less dangerous than Hydrochloric (muriatic) Acid and Peroxide?

Both seem to have serious harzardous materials warnings.

They seem very closely related since I've recently determined that Ferric Chloride is the waste product of the Hydrochloric Acid Pickling bath used to surface prep steel.

PW
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Obiwan
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 07:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

define "dangerous". I mean, what do you consider "dangerous"??

As far as actual "danger" goes, meaning harmful to human health, I think they're about the same.

But The powdered ferric will boil and splatter and can cause burns. The Muratic doesn't.

That's about the only "real" danger I know of (not counting something stupid such as drinking it).

Ferric will make horrible stains, dangerous if your wife finds out. Muraitic doesn't.

The both work about the same, but Muriatic is much cleaner, and cheaper, and easier to access (common chemicals vs. specialty store).
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Zeitghost
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Posted on Sunday, 26 March, 2006 - 09:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I've used Vutrax for 15 years or so(£4k & counting), CadStar (on a contract in 2001 and where I work currently), Orcad and EasyPc.

Vutrax is easy if you are continually using it.

CadStar is good, easier than Vutrax, but I still don't know how to create library parts... don't like their supplied library symbols much.


My boss at one place managed to make a 63 pin QFP with EasyPc once.

That pcb had lots & lots & lots of green wires all over it, but fortunately the missing pad was on a side that wasn't heavily used.

He also managed to short all four planes together with a mounting hole.

The reason for the 63 pin device was that he didn't like using device footprints & preferred to make the footprint up on the fly...

I could make the dos version of Orcad fly, didn't need to use the mouse for schematic capture at all. The windoze version is ok. Ish.
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Obiwan
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Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 03:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I haven't heard mention of OrCAD in years! I didn't know they were still around.

The demo I tried out many many years ago looked pretty good even back then, I bet they must have a pretty good product by now.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Zeitghost
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Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 09:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

I think they're the low end offering from Cadence these days.

I was not highly impressed with their 90 day support for a new installation... after that you have to shell out more money for a maintenance contract.

Vutrax (which is British) started off on the BBC B as I understand it.

I've got two versions: the old dos version and the current Windoze version.

There's a free version of Vutrax that you can download & a £75 pin limited version.

I've never made enough from using it to justify the amount of money I've spent on it... :o(
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Obiwan
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Posted on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006 - 08:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

That's too bad because OrCAD had a really nice product. I remember trying to hack their demo product. I got a little bit done, just some basic hidden stuff in the FAT.

They were the first to offere "rubber banding" and the display looked really nice too. Others just had a funky look about them, amatureish or something I guess, OrCAD looked really sharp.

But that was when copy protection was first coming out, like years and years ago.

I would have thought they went up instead of down. That's really too bad.

I'm still using Proteus/ISIS/ARES aka. LabCenter. Mainly because of the simiulation stuff that I purchased.

I have found that 90% of this stuff is just a matter of taste. Some people like it one way, some people like it another way.

You could take the exact same product and color it differently, and then move the menu to the other side of the screen, and the people that loved it before, would hate it now.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Zeitghost
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Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 08:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

When I said "low end", I meant £1000s rather than £10,000s which is what the high end stuff goes for...

Oddly, most people seem to use OrCad to generate schematics and netlists and then import the netlists into Pads or something similar.

I've never used the OrCad pcb layout stuff so I can't comment on it.

I still use the ancient dos version I have for doing quick & dirty schematic diagrams because it's easy to generate new symbols for the library.

All my schematic symbols tend to be square boxes because that's by far the easiest to generate.

Biggest bugbear is the invisible power pin syndrome, but every cad program I've used seems to suffer from that.

I once placed two 7400 gates too close together on the schematic & OrCad connected the two power plane together.

I was not pleased.

I was even less pleased on another diagram when it connected all the lines on an input port for a keyboard together because a line was a little too close to the symbol.... the layout man noticed but didn't mention it so there were lots of green wires on that one. :o(
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Amr_bekhit
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Posted on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006 - 08:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

For PCB software I picked up PCB Wizard from Maplins a few years ago and have been satisfied with it since. I admit, it's no where near as complex and sophisticated as some of the other software you chaps have mentioned, but for someone using mostly common electronic components like myself, it fantastic becuase it's very, very simple to use. Even when I have something a little out of the ordinary you can always improvise with the components and get it working. You can also create your own components too. The standard version costs £35 from Maplins. I'd recommend it to any hobbyist needing a simple to use software that's affordable. I've been recently introduced to the free version of Eagle PCB and absolutely HATED it. I hated the wiring style in the schematic capture and in my opinion has a generally poor interface. Also, when I used it, I had to manually route everything togethor, although I did find an autorouting window somewhere but didn't know how to use it. Mind you, it has a very extensive set of libraries and that picture of yours Mike with the 3D sircuit looks brilliant. Each to his own, I guess, though I'm always open to try better software.

--Amr
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741
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Posted on Thursday, 30 March, 2006 - 07:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Question: I'd like to have a go at having a PCB made by PCBTrain or someone, maybe using Eagle etc BUT aside from the specific learning curve that each SW package implies, I also have little knowledge of:
-How to define board shape
-What layers a simple 2-sided "SMD" PCB would need (presumably copper both sides, tinning on the pads and a conformal coating).

I'd like to be able to generate the gerbers for a dead simple board (eg an SMD to DIL board) and have the confidence that the files I send defines what I intend.

What's a good way to get into this ?
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Obiwan
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Posted on Saturday, 01 April, 2006 - 05:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

You might try exporting and importing a design. See if you can find enough compatible software packages to get it out of what you're using into Eagle or something.

It's really too bad that there's not one common export/import interface like DXF or something.

Gerber might work.
May the Force be with (most of) you.....
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Magnum4
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Posted on Wednesday, 05 April, 2006 - 08:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post

Hi 741,
I have used Omilex to have a couple of boards made. They work from eagle board files. They explain a lot on their site of what is required, have a look I found it very informative.
HTH
Regards,
Jim

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