While making your own PCBs at home is one of the best marks of a competent builder, if you want to give your project a more professional vibe, you’re going to need to do better than bare copper traces on a piece of fiberglass. To help out his fellow makers, [Chris] sent in his Instructable on creating a solder mask for homemade circuit boards using a minimal amount of tools and materials easily sourced from the Internet.
[Chris]‘ soldermasks are made from UV curing paints he found on eBay. Of course the traditional green paint is available, along with paints very similar to the Sparkfun red or Arduino blue soldermasks.
After brushing the soldermask paint onto his home-etched circuit board, [Chris] printed out the solder mask onto a piece of transparency film using a laser printer. This mask is vitally important if you ever plan to solder your board; by covering the pads you wish to solder, the paint won’t cure and can later be removed.
[Chris] cured his soldermask by leaving it in the sun for a half hour. After the paint was dry, he removed the excess paint covering the pads with a little bit of turpentine and some elbow grease.
While [Chris]‘ paint had somewhat of an ugly matte finish, the soldermask does its job, protecting the PCB traces while leaving the pads uncovered and ready to solder.