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Thread: Homemade Circuit Board

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    Homemade Circuit Board

    Alright, so I don't have access to/don't feel like buying the 'proper' material used for making circuit boards online (don't even know what the 'proper' material is). I have an idea to build my own, but wanted to get some opinions first.

    My take on it is (and I may be wrong) that the only real purpose for the board is to contain the components in a neat, safe manner. Right? So the material is used to be durable and resistant to things like heat from a soldering iron.

    So if I use just a normal plastic board, with say some bolts to act as 'turrets' wouldn't this work? I've heard people argue over and against certain materials, but never really understood why.

    Any opinions on the matter would be great, thanks.

  2. #2
    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    How permanent do you want this solution to be? I prototype tube circuits using wood and copper plated nails, a method that pre-dates me by easily 40 years, and for that it's great, but I can't say I'd want that inside my amp day in/day out.

    Also, typical plastics will melt when you heat up the bolt to solder in the component. I'd probably go the extra bit of effort and get the right materials/use commonly accepted ways of doing this sort of stuff.

    If you want turret board material, it's called G10. If you want copper clad board for circuit boards, you're looking for copper clad FR4. G10 can be purchased from specialty dealers, or "generic" places like McMaster Carr. Copper clad FR4 can also be found at specialty places, or the big electronic retailers like Mouser, Digikey, Newark, Allied, Jamco, etc.

    If this is a small project, perf board can be purchased at RadioShack, or you can buy strip board (vero board) from the big electronic retailers.
    -Mike

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    Well it's a small(ish) project, and I was planning to use this means as a final product.

    My biggest concern is the melting thing. I have a semi-thick plastic, and I plan to solder high up on my makeshift turret so I don't think it will melt. I'll just take a small piece and do a test run to see what happens.

    But as far as buying material outright, is Radioshack is the only 'common' store that would sell suitable board material?

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    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    I have never seen perf board sold anywhere in stores but RadioShack.

    The other thing to consider is whether or not you can solder to your makeshift turret at all. Soldering with rosin core solder only works on certain metals. I would run that test along with the plastic melting test.
    -Mike

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Eyelets work well if you don't want to use turrets. I would only use eyelets or turrets for tube applications. For a small, low voltage, SS project I would use perf board. You will not save any time or money IMHO trying to Mcgiver it. Get the right stuff and avoid the headach, frustration, and waste of time. And....when you are done you will know how to do it right. It really isn't expensive at all to do it right.

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    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    Eyelets work well if you don't want to use turrets. I would only use eyelets or turrets for tube applications. For a small, low voltage, SS project I would use perf board. You will not save any time or money IMHO trying to Mcgiver it. Get the right stuff and avoid the headach, frustration, and waste of time. And....when you are done you will know how to do it right. It really isn't expensive at all to do it right.

    I second this motion. Eyelet board is really easy. You just need boards and eyelets. For tools you need drill of correct size, and punch. You don't have to be really precise in where you drill the holes, unless you are making an exact replica of something. You can get all kinds of colors and sizes of eyelet board.

    Just one place among many to get material. Dig the colors:

    http://www.turretboards.com/
    Last edited by JHow; 03-05-2010 at 11:01 PM. Reason: I remembered something...

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    Okay, you guys have convinced me

    After looking at the link JHow provided I see now that I can get the board/eyelets for under 20 dollars anyway. So I'll just order these. My components won't be arriving for a while anyway, so I can wait for these to arrive.

    Last question though, with the proper turrets, is installation the same as eyelets? I mean can I just punch the ends to flare them on the board?

    Thanks for all the help everyone.

  8. #8
    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    If you go way down on the watts site he has "handy amp info" and then a staking tutorial. Turrets need something to hold them (staking tool) while you stake the other end. Naturally, watts has the tool, or you might be able to make something on your own that does the same.

  9. #9
    Junior Member godi's Avatar
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    Circuit board

    I used wood for circuit board with great success Look at : Twin Tweed Deluxe (5E3x2) and scroll down to the reverb unit.

    It is very economical and can be very pleasant to look at with nice piece of wood. I also tryed with plexiglass and no, this stuff don't resist to the heat very well. Wood is a winner !

  10. #10
    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by godi View Post
    I used wood for circuit board with great success Look at : Twin Tweed Deluxe (5E3x2) and scroll down to the reverb unit.

    It is very economical and can be very pleasant to look at with nice piece of wood. I also tryed with plexiglass and no, this stuff don't resist to the heat very well. Wood is a winner !
    If you use wood with any heat at all it will char and become conductive eventually.

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    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    If you use wood with any heat at all it will char and become conductive eventually.
    Technically, yes, that is true, but in my experience, and I'm a heavy handed soldering iron wielder, it's not easily done. Meaning, I've never charred a nail hole when trying to solder to the nail.
    -Mike

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by defaced View Post
    Technically, yes, that is true, but in my experience, and I'm a heavy handed soldering iron wielder, it's not easily done. Meaning, I've never charred a nail hole when trying to solder to the nail.
    The problem is not from the soldering iron but from the heat generated by the components themselves over time. Most pcbs in consumer and some industrial electronics are made from a combination of paper and resin. They're cheap, flexible, and work well in wave solder machines. I don't know many times I have had to cut out an area that has become burnt and conductive to jumper over it to effect a repair. Wood, paper, cardboard, anything like that turns to carbon when heated and therefore becomes conductive. IMHO it is asking for trouble if you want reliability, especially if it is a high voltage and/or high current circuit and especially for any output device or power supply components. It's a really bad idea for tube stuff. The classic example is trying to pull a tube from an integrated socket and ripping out part of the board because it has become brittle. Wood will dry, char, split, shrink, get brittle and become conductive over time. But...whatever floats your boat.

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    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by defaced View Post
    How permanent do you want this solution to be? I prototype tube circuits using wood and copper plated nails, a method that pre-dates me by easily 40 years, and for that it's great, but I can't say I'd want that inside my amp day in/day out.
    This is why prototype electronic circuits are sometimes called "breadboards". The first breadboards were exactly that, your mom's breadboard with some thumb tacks pushed into it.

    Breadboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    However, as others have stated, wood isn't the best of insulators. It can absorb moisture and so on. Having said that, Tesla made the formers for his giant high-voltage coils out of wood, and if it was good enough for him, who am I to complain? Or then again, maybe he'd have used electrical fiberglass, G10 or whatever, if it had existed back then. And, he was working in the dry climate of Colorado Springs.

    I think the poor insulating properties of wood would probably be an issue mainly in precision circuits. It might cause weird noises in your amp's first stage every time it rains, or whatever...
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  14. #14
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I find wood works well enough, but after slicing tomatoes, the conductivity issue really flares up. So watch out if you play salsa music through your breadboard amp.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  15. #15
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Brings a whole new meaning to "working on your chops"...
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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    Gotcha, thanks very much.

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    Old Timer defaced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    The problem is not from the soldering iron but from the heat generated by the components themselves over time. Most pcbs in consumer and some industrial electronics are made from a combination of paper and resin. They're cheap, flexible, and work well in wave solder machines. I don't know many times I have had to cut out an area that has become burnt and conductive to jumper over it to effect a repair. Wood, paper, cardboard, anything like that turns to carbon when heated and therefore becomes conductive. IMHO it is asking for trouble if you want reliability, especially if it is a high voltage and/or high current circuit and especially for any output device or power supply components. It's a really bad idea for tube stuff. The classic example is trying to pull a tube from an integrated socket and ripping out part of the board because it has become brittle. Wood will dry, char, split, shrink, get brittle and become conductive over time. But...whatever floats your boat.
    Um, what was that all about?...

    Quote Originally Posted by defaced
    I prototype tube circuits using wood and copper plated nails, a method that pre-dates me by easily 40 years, and for that it's great, but I can't say I'd want that inside my amp day in/day out.
    -Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by godi View Post
    I used wood for circuit board with great success Look at : Twin Tweed Deluxe (5E3x2) and scroll down to the reverb unit.

    It is very economical and can be very pleasant to look at with nice piece of wood. I also tryed with plexiglass and no, this stuff don't resist to the heat very well. Wood is a winner !
    Polycarbonate clear is more resistant to heat. The only problem I have had is the board cracks if you are too aggressive when flaring your terminals.
    By the way, I like the look of your builds!
    Alan. (Anvil Amplifiers NZ)

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    Maybe I'm just nieve, but you lost me on the 'slicing tomatoes' remark

    But wood would be a handy and easy-to-get material... what about the formica someone mentioned, where can I get this? Isn't that countertop material? So maybe a Lowes or some such?

    I'm too much of a sucker for homemade crap I guess. I said before it would cost next to nothing to buy the proper stuff and here I am still trying to jury-rig my expensive amp...I'm hopeless

  20. #20
    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    You know, we didn't mention it in this thread, but tag strips and point to point are perfectly usable for smaller circuits. I started fooling with tube radios before I started on amps and many multi-tube circuits were accomplished without any sort of board.

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    I don't know about tag strips, but isn't point to point is simply wiring everything together within the chassis? Looks kinda like a bomb went off in there?

    If that's the case, the original amp that I'm building from (an old PA) was wired in this manner. Looked rather messy. I was going to do this, but since the wiring diagram for the amp I'm building uses a board, I figured I'd use one as well. Not to mention how much neater it would keep everything.

    But it is a really simple amp, with no bells and whistles so to speak. The four imputs are the biggest mess as far as the amout of components needed to stick in the thing. It's a two-volume, one tone little fender basically.

  22. #22
    Supporting Member tubeswell's Avatar
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    I use switchpanel from a local electrical wholesaler (the stuff you do use for mains voltage wiring jobs) and brass eyelets. Each board costs about $10 max. (incl standoff mounting nuts)
    Building a better world (one tube amp at a time)

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    Senior Member JHow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brokennarsil View Post
    I don't know about tag strips, but isn't point to point is simply wiring everything together within the chassis?
    Yep. Pretty much. Its harder to do - but done right it works fine - and done really right it's almost an art form. It takes a lot of planning.

    Quote Originally Posted by brokennarsil View Post
    The four imputs are the biggest mess...
    Those inputs look redundant to me, in that they don't offer anything different in terms of circuit. You could consider experimenting on the other tube with cathode bias, or parallel triodes, hi/lo jack, etc.

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    I agree with you JHow about the four imputs being redundant. However, since this my first build, and first major electronics venture at all, I'm not sure if I have the ability to change the thing that much.

    It's embarassing, but what I'm doing here is really just following the schematic I have step-by-step without any real problem-solving of my own. The biggest thing I have to worry about is where to solder everything.

    So I'm really just trying to keep my fingers crossed and hope that the thing will even work. That will be a major sucess. I've already learned so much just doing what I have thusfar, and perhaps with future builds I can design circuits and bias myself.

    (But as far as my friends are concerned, yep I built her from the ground up all by myself )

  25. #25
    Old Timer Gtr_tech's Avatar
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    Formica drilled for eyelets seems to work well. There's a guy here local that does that with his new builds. If there's a cabinet shop near you they'll prob'ly give you some scrap pieces.
    The farmer takes a wife, the barber takes a pole....

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