In a previous episode of Hackaday, [Rich Olson] came up with a new no-etch circuit board fabrication method. And now, he’s put it to the test: building an nRF52 Bluetooth reference design, complete with video, embedded below.
The quick overview of [Rich]’s method: print out the circuit with a laser printer, bake a silver-containing glue onto the surface, repeat a few times to get thick traces, glue the paper to a substrate, and use low-temperature solder to put parts together. A potential drawback is the non-negligible resistance for the traces, but a lot of the time that doesn’t matter and the nRF52 reference design proves it.
The one problem here may be the trace antenna. [Rich] reports that it sends out a weaker-than-expected signal. Any RF design folks want to speculate wildly about the cause?
We are split on the issue of DIY PCB fab here at Hackaday Headquarters. Some of us are able to get results out of simple toner transfer and etching that push the limitations of a 1200 DPI laser printer, with practice and calibration. Others of us simply ship the work out, which certainly makes economic sense these days. Don’t get us started on CNC routing, photo-resist etching, and whatever else. Now along comes [Rich] with his method that we want to try out! It’s a miracle we have any time to write.