The Saltwater etch process using PIC16F54 microcontroller
The Saltwater etch process
This is a one-off process to produce one printed circuit board by removing unwanted copper by electrolysis in a saltwater solution.
I shall illustrate the process by etching and building a board for 18-pin PIC (for the PC16F54, but any 18 pin PIC will fit in it) in the figure. It has to plug into my breadboard and accept the programming signals from my PIC programmer (just go to http://geocities.com/it2n/circuits.html and look at it).
To avoid battling with signal conflicts, the two programming pins shall not be brought to the breadboard. To play around with the clock frequency, the crystal shall be made pluggable. The Master clear signal will not be brought out.
These decisions mean a board with two .1″ pitch connectors, one with 13 connections and the other with five connections, one pin spaced apart from the rest.
This is a tutorial intended for the absolute beginner, and almost every step shall be illustrated. I’ve even included a video of the etching process.
Decide how large the board has to be
Score a line on the copper
If you bear down with the knife, chances are that it might wander and cut the board deeply where you do not want it cut – and you will be looking ruefully down on your ruined PCB stock. Be patient. Being patient has its own virtues, as life will invariably teach you.
Make that line a deeper groove
Then at each edge, mark the plain surface of the board and draw a line there, too, exactly on the other side.
Score the other side
This is the copper side, with a deep groove.
Groove on the plain side
Break it apart
The cut piece of PCB laminate
Decide how large it has to be
Arranging them all on the board, it seems that about 2″ will be sufficient.
Clean the board
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