PCB Design Method and Software


How to make PCBs with a laser printer

First thing to do is make a schematic in any Layout editor. Once you have done this you can then design the layout using layout editor too. Making schematic first helps because Layout editor will show you clearly if make any mistakes with the PCB.

Here is an example

Print it out onto some semi glossy photo paper. Be sure to select “solid black” in the Layout editor printing preferences and also unselect silk screen layers so that you only see pads and traces:

Then quickly take this paper, cut out your design and place it face down onto some blank PCB board. Then use an iron and press the design on to the board. Use A LOT of pressure and ensure all parts of the design make good contact with the blank PCB. Keep it pressed for at least 5 mins. I have found that having steam on/off makes no difference.

Then take your blank PCB with the design stuck on to it and soak it in soapy water for about 20 mins to loosen the paper.

Then CAREFULLY remove the paper. Be sure not to remove any of the black ink traces beceause these are what stops the acid in the etching process. I use a kind of rubbing motion to remove the paper. Keep it wet all the time so that it seoarates easily from the copper board.

Done and ready for etching:

Get some etchant and just follow the instructions for the dilution level. I just use a noral ceremic or glass bowel. Ghetto style.

Add boiling water from a jug:

And slowly swirl or rock the bowl around. The liquid must be always moving over the copper board to get it to etch properly.


Now scrub the black ink off the PCB and voila, you have a custom designed PCB:

Then all you need to do is drill out the holes and start mounting the components:

It will take maybe a couple of tries to get the hang of it but once you’ve got it you can produce perfect PCBs everytime.

Tips for making PCBs: www.expresspcb.com/ExpressPCBHtm/Tips.htm

Another guide like this: http://homepage.tinet.ie/~ei9gq/pcb.html


  • You can’t do it with Inkjet printers, the ink doesn’t stick.
  • OKI LED and regular laser printers work well.
  • I have only used matt photo paper and have always had perfect results, although glossy would probably work too.
  • Once the design is stuck to the PCB put a blank piece of paper over the design and then rub and twist the iron while pressing the print on the PCB. This gives better coverage and makes sure it sticks on all parts of the PCB.

Here is some pics of another design


This is a good free PCB design software using which you can prepare professional looking pcb’s

to download use this link http://www.diptrace.com/download.php

download software with the libraries they contain most of the commonly used IC’s

It includes:

  • PCB Layout — PCB design with an easy to use manual routing tools, auto-router and auto-placer.

  • Schematic — Schematic Capture and export to PCB or Spice.

  • Pattern Editor — allows you to create part footprints.

  • Component Editor — allows you to draw parts and make components


you can download PCB123 from “http://www.pcb123.com/”.

NOTE: I recommend using diptrace as it can prepare single sided pcb’s which PCB123 cannot do in free version.


5 Responses to PCB Design Method and Software

  1. RAJ SHAH says:

    Very informative article. By the way, we are compnay based in Ahmedabad, Guj and sell a complete kit which included PCB layput software, Copper clad board and Transfer file, for Rs 3500. For further info pl contact globalams@gmail.com

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  3. Wow! That’s amazing process to design custom pcb board.. Thanks for also share details bout software. i will try to bookmark this post for my future help related to Custom PCB board design.

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