Hey guys, in this post I will show you a detail description on how to make a professional Printed Circuit Board (PCB) at home. First of all, below is the part list that you will be needing for this project.
  • Toner transfer paper or adhesive paperback glossy part or glossy paper
  • Single side(single layer) copper board
  • permanent marker
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • handsaw
  • scissors
  • laser printer
  • alcohol
  • water
  • UV solder mask for PCB
  • solder flux
  • iron
  • ferric chloride solution
  • Transparent film
So, as we are making a flight controller using Arduino, you guys might want to check the design we made in an earlier post for the designing of the flight controller circuit HERE.

Once you have your designed circuit, print it on a glossy paper with a laser printer, I normally use the backside of adhesive paper (Sticker paper) and sometimes some heat transfer paper which you can find on the part lists above.

NOTE: Make sure to print it actual size

Once you have your printed circuit, cut it to size. Place the paper on the copper board and mark the size using a pencil. Do not cut it oversize. This will add up some weight. Cut it a little, like 2 mm than the design so that we can use abrasive paper to remove them later.

Once we have marked the size, take a ruler and draw a line for a precise cut. You can cut it with a Dremel or a chopping board. If not, you can use a handsaw to cut it but don't be too harsh as it can damage the copper layer.

The board should be clean for the best result. If the board is not clean, the toner transfer will not be good. So make sure to clean the board with alcohol and dry it with tissue paper.

Once the board is clean, its time to make the circuit. We are going to use the toner transfer method. We will need iron for heat.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remove water from the iron if you are using water-based iron.

Now heat the copper board for about 4 or 5 seconds and place the designed circuit on the board and place a plain paper above it and hold one side of the board to keep the circuit in place. Then, iron the other side. Apply heat and pressure for about 30 seconds. When the circuit is stuck on the board, remove the plain paper and apply heat and pressure all over the board for about 4- 5 minutes.

Once It is well stuck after applying heat for 4 - 5 minutes, wait for it to cool for about 5 minutes. Then drop it into a bowl filled with water and let it soak.

Once the paper is completely soaked in water, remove it and rub it with your finger. Note that you should not scratch it. Just rub the paper off gently. Scratching with a nail will damage the circuit track.

So this is what we should get. Make sure to check for residual paper trace between the tracks and remove it else it will create a short circuit.

Check the circuit well to see if there is any scratch on the track that creates an open circuit and correct them using permanent markers.

we will now see how to remove unwanted copper from the circuit using the etching process and also apply a UV solder mast to the PCB to give it a more professional look.

So now we have to pour some ferric chloride solution into a bowl. Then drop the copper board into the ferric chloride solution.

After dropping the board into the solution, shake it well until you see all the unwanted copper are gone. It usually takes about 10 mins for a concentrated solution. I usually place the bowl on hot water to heat the ferric chloride solution to speed up the reaction.

Once you see all the unwanted copper are gone, remove it and rinse it with water.
Then use steel wool or fine abrasive paper (sandpaper) to remove the black toner from the circuit.
Make sure that all the black toner are completely gone and rinse it again with water then dry it off using tissue paper and this is what you should get.

However, this is not where it ends. We should check for short circuits and continuity in the tracks.

Use an ohmmeter and check for the resistance in the tracks for continuity and different tracks if they are short circuit. Once this is done, we are good to go for the next process. The next thing we should do is apply the solder mask to the circuit, This will prevent the exposed copper from oxidizing and give it a better look.

Please check the next page to see how to apply UV solder mask properly and the precautions we should take to give it a professional look