Homebrew PCB Reference Material

Articles that have helped me with the practical aspects of making PCBs at home.

Reliably making good solder joints without damaging the PCB or components isn’t difficult, but is much easier if you understand the basic principles. Some well-constructed videos describe how to select a tip / temperature / wattage, where to place the tip and solder,  and how to move them – and why.  There are good examples of what you should see happening when you’ve got it right – or wrong. The only omission is SMD components, presumably they weren’t common when the videos were made. See Pace Basic Soldering Lessons 1-9. But try not to snigger at the pronunciation of “solder”!

When you can’t be bothered with making a PCB, there are a range of available techinques (pt1pt2, pt3 slides at the front, slides plus notes at the back), none of which involve solderless breadboards. I prefer Manhattan Techniques since they give surprisingly good results; that article is a useful mix of theory and practice.

Circuit Board Repair and Rework Guide, is remarkably clear and complete, and an excellent example of why a good illustration can be better than a photograph.

Making Your Own PCBs, is a good overview of several techniques, with sensible references to other sites containing more detailed information.

Make High-Quality Double-sided PCBs at Home contains good photographs showing poor results – and how to avoid them.

RA vs No-clean Flux discusses different types of flux.

Inexpensive Tools for Surface Mount Soldering outlines what’s available, so that you can select what suits your needs.

A concise informative video about how one person mounts SMD components on a board.

A video from “mikeselectricstuff” with many practical hints and tips when assembling SMD boards.

SMD Soldering Troubleshooting is an excellent guide to what can go wrong, and how to prevent or cure it.

PCB Design Perfection Starts in the CAD Library is an excellent series of tutorials about pad sizing and much more, marred only by Mental Graphics’ desire to have you register.

PCB Layout Checklist is a useful sanity check before getting a board manufactured.

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