Where are Some Great DIY Printed Circuit Board Layouts?
December 30, 2008 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a medium-sized run of printed circuit boards that'd be most cost-effective for me to silkscreen/photo-etch at home. I'm pretty sure I got that part covered... lots of tutorials available [1, 2, 3, etc]. It'd be a shame, though, to build this setup and then not use it again, so I'm wondering where are some great repositories for (all types of) PCB layouts? Added difficulty: Would like reasonable descriptions of "what they do" and how the boards are likely to be employed.

So: I'm no dummy, but I'll completely cop to not being any type of electronics whiz. That said, I've been able to make some pretty cool stuff in the past just by RTFM and following directions. I can do very little to create new circuits, but if I see something done, I can usually do a decent job of tailoring it to my project.

I know Eagle, ExpressPCB, etc. come with large libraries of pre-made circuits, but I'm afraid that with few exceptions, the lack of a (strong) nudge in the direction of "use this to do this" leaves me a little out in the cold.

I formulated this little tweak on a google search that gives me the type of files that'd be useful for my endeavor, but no context. I'm comfortable working in almost any raster or vector format, though I'd prefer to stay away from non-free proprietary filetypes.

Where are good spots to find amazing circuits/projects designed and shared by creative people? Looking for all kinds, but I suppose the application that most interests me is lighting (though I've been looking for an excuse to branch out from this). I'm also valuing simple/elegant/useful over complicated/esoteric/theoretical. Thanks for any direction or help you can provide.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Limor (ladyada) has some neat projects.
posted by exogenous at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2008

Response by poster: Does she have PCB layouts on her site? I'm not finding them.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 9:25 AM on December 30, 2008

Response by poster: (Ah... found them. They're under the "Download" link in the individual project pages. Good find).
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 9:26 AM on December 30, 2008

If you're looking for lighting stuff, USB-DMX offers Gerber and PDF/Postscript layouts for their OpenDMX compatable USB interface, and Semitone's Open Dimmer Project will handle the dimmer end of the whole thing, but I haven't found their specific PCB downloads yet. There are other projects of this sort out there, but these seem the most current. Good luck!
posted by Orb2069 at 9:52 AM on December 30, 2008

as an aside, if you run out of pcb's to etch, you can always do straight up artistic etching. i've been messing around with it at home trying to etch things like spiffy mailbox nameplates and house numbers. home depot or other large home improvement stores generally sell little pieces of copper roof flashing that work well for this purpose.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:16 AM on December 30, 2008

Runoff Groove has a whole bunch of guitar effect and amp projects.

By the way, I'll save you a whole bunch of grief - dispose of the used etchant carefully. When I was a teen, I made a run of 50 PCBs from scratch and when I thought that the etchant was spent, I flushed it down the slop sink in my parents' basement with a great deal of water. Clearly not enough, because it slowly etched a several holes in the copper drain line. Oops.

Cupric Chloride might be a better choice than Inro (III) Chloride.
posted by plinth at 11:20 AM on December 30, 2008

Open Circuits is a good site for PCB footprints with descriptions.
posted by Laen at 4:39 PM on December 30, 2008

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