Ok so I have all the chemicals and copper clad I need to start etching PCB's. Unfourtantely I just dont have the money to get my pcb's printed somewhere. Iv read up on the transfer method and feel pretty confident I can etch my boards, I also have access to a decent drill press so I should be able to churn them out fairly quickly. Im planning to use KiCad, I have access to altium and dip trace, but I want to keep my kit fully open source and I feel like using a pay product or a pcb design product that only works on windows is a bad choice. I started with express pcb it seems alot easier, if anyone has some good links to kicad tutorials Id appreciate it, Ive seen a few but there isnt alot of good stuff out there that I can find. Ive also read Dave Jone E-book on PCB Design and gained some good insight that way. But Im still unclear on a few things when moving from a perfboard to designing a pcb and hand making boards.
First of all I accidently ordered some surface mount EEPROMs (http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/24FC64FT-I%2FOT/24FC64FT-I%2FOTCT-ND/2651408
) I meant to get the dip version. So I figured a good simple start may be to just make a simple breakout board for one of these EEPROMs that will slide into an 8 pin dip socket. This will give me such an easy board to etch and drill, while forcing me to learn to soldier SMT components. Now Im thinking id like to mount the chip on the top of the pcb attached to VIAS that connect to tracks on the bottom which lead to headers.
Now here is where im stumbling a little bit. What is the easiest way to make VIAS on a home etched pcb? Im thinking you could just put a pad on the top of the board and the bottom with the hole drilled. Fill the hole with flux and soldier both sides? Is there a better, faster, more standard way to do this? The next thing is cutting the copper clad, the kid on JumperOne just cut it with something that looked like tin snips, but I know if you were to just sink cutters into a perfboard it would definately screw it up unless you score it first. Do you just score clad with a razor down through the fiber glass? The last thing is the transfer, Lining up the bottom and top seems rediculously hard especially if your using a clothes iron. Ive seen people you laminating machines but I cant afford one of those, has anyone tried to use a heat gun? I know the cheapest one at home depot has like 400 and 750 degree settings, is that way to hot? Clipping the aligned transfers down with alligator clips and then just blowing a heat gun at it seems like the easiest way, if it works without starting the paper on fire.