There are plenty of chemical processes that happen commonly around the house that, if we’re really following safety protocols to the letter, should be done in a fume hood. Most of us will have had that experience with soldering various electronics, especially if we’re not exactly sure where the solder came from or how old it is. For [John]’s electroless plating process, though, he definitely can’t straddle that line and went about building a fume hood to vent some of the more harmful gasses out of a window.
This fume hood is pretty straightforward and doesn’t have a few of the bells and whistles found in commercial offerings, but this process doesn’t really require things like scrubbing or filtering the exhaust air so he opted to omit these pricier and more elaborate options. What it does have, though, is an adjustable-height sash, a small form factor that allows it to easily move around his shop, and a waterproof, spill-collecting area in the bottom. The enclosure is built with plywood, allowing for openings for an air inlet, the exhaust ducting, and a cable pass-through, and then finished with a heavy-duty paint. He also included built-in lighting and when complete, looks indistinguishable from something we might buy from a lab equipment supplier.
While [John] does admit that the exhaust fan isn’t anything special and might need to be replaced more often than if he had gone with one that was corrosion-resistant, he’s decided that the cost of this maintenance doesn’t outweigh the cost of a specialized fan. He also notes it’s not fire- or bomb-proof, but nothing he’s doing is prone to thermal anomalies of that sort. For fume hoods of all sorts, we might also recommend adding some automation to them so they are used any time they’re needed.
Continue reading “Custom Fume Hood For Safe Electroless Plating”
For a lot of reasons, home etching of PCBs is somewhat of a dying art. The main reason is the rise of quick-turn PCB fabrication services, of course; when you can send your Gerbers off and receive back a box with a dozen or so professionally made PCBs for a couple of bucks, why would you want to mess with etching your own?
Convenience and cost aside, there are a ton of valid reasons to spin up your own boards, ranging from not having to wait for shipping to just wanting to control the process yourself. Whichever camp you’re in, though, it pays to know what’s going on when your plain copper-clad board, adorned with your precious artwork, slips into the etching tank and becomes a printed circuit board. What exactly is going on in there to remove the copper? And how does the etching method affect the final product? Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular etching methods to understand the chemistry behind your boards.
Continue reading “Copper Be Gone: The Chemistry Behind PCB Etching”
Though Hackaday scribes have been known to imbibe a few glasses in their time, it’s fair to say that we are not a wine critic site. When a news piece floated by about a company getting into trouble for illegally submerging crates of wine though, our ears pricked up. Why are vintners dumping their products in the sea?
Making wine, or indeed any alcoholic beverage, starts with taking a base liquor, be it grape juice, apple juice, barley malt solution, or whatever, and fermenting it with a yeast culture to produce alcohol. The result is a drink that’s intoxicating but rough, and the magic that turns it into a connoisseur’s tipple happens subsequently as it matures. The environment in which the maturation happens has a huge influence on this, which is one of many reasons why wine from the cellar of a medieval chateau tastes better than that from an industrial unit in southern England. The Californian company was attempting to speed up this process by leaving the bottles beneath the waves. Continue reading “The Briny Depths Give Wine An Edge, But How?”
It is a classic rite of passage for nerdy kids to write secret messages using lemon juice. If you somehow missed that, you can’t see the writing until you heat the paper up with, say, an old-fashioned light bulb. If you were a true budding spy, you’d write a boring normal letter with wide spacing and then fill in the blanks between the lines with your important secrets written in juice. This is a form of steganography — encoding secret messages by hiding them in plain sight. [Randomona] shares a different technique that seems to be way cooler than lemon juice using, of all things, turmeric. This isn’t like the invisible ink of our childhood.
That’s probably a good thing. We doubt an LED bulb makes enough heat to develop our old secret messages. [Ranomona’s] ink doesn’t use heat, but it uses a developer. That means you must make two preparations: the ink and the developer. The results are amazing, though, as shown in the video below.
Continue reading “Kitchen Steganography With Turmeric”
There’s some nifty research from the University of Bayreuth, together with partners in China and the U.S., on creating supremely tough aluminosilicate glass that boasts an unusual structure. The image above represents regular glass structure on the left, and the paracrystalline structure on the right.
Aluminosilicate, which contains silicon, aluminum, boron and oxygen, is a type of oxide glass. Oxide glasses are a group to which borosilicate and other common glasses belong. Structurally speaking, these glasses all have a relatively disordered internal structure. They’re known for their clarity, but not especially their durability. Continue reading “Supremely-tough Glass Performs Under Pressure”
[Sebastian] probably didn’t think he was wading into controversial waters when he posted on his experimental method for etching PCBs (in German). It’s not like etching with hydrochloric acid and peroxide is anything new, really; it was just something new to him. But is it even possible these days to post something and not find out just how wrong you are about it?
Sadly, no, or at least so it appears from a scan of [Sebastian]’s tweet on the subject (Nitter). There are a bunch of ways to etch copper off boards, including the messy old standby etchant ferric chloride, or even [Sebastian]’s preferred sodium persulfate method. Being out of that etchant, he decided to give the acid-peroxide method a go and was much pleased by the results. The traces were nice and sharp, the total etching time was low, and the etchant seemed pretty gentle when it accidentally got on his skin. Sounds like a win all around.
But Twitter wouldn’t stand for this chemical heresy, with comments suggesting that the etching process would release chlorine gas, or that ferric chloride is far safer and cleaner. It seems to us that most of the naysayers are somewhat overwrought in their criticism, especially since [Sebastian]’s method used very dilute solutions: a 30% hydrochloric acid solution added to water — like you oughta — to bring it down to 8%, and a 12% peroxide solution. Yes, that’s four times more concentrated than the drug store stuff, but it’s not likely to get you put on a terrorism watch list, as some wag suggested — a hair stylist watchlist, perhaps. And 8% HCl is about the same concentration as vinegar; true, HCl dissociates almost completely, which makes it a strong acid compared to acetic acid, but at that dilution it seems unlikely that World War I-levels of chlorine gas will be sweeping across your bench.
As with all things, one must employ caution and common sense. PPE is essential, good chemical hygiene is a must, and safe disposal of spent solutions is critical. But taking someone to task for using what he had on hand to etch a quick PCB seems foolish — we all have our ways, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong if they don’t do the same.
Continue reading “Different Etching Strokes For Different PCBs, Folks”
While most photographers have moved on to digital cameras with their numerous benefits, there are a few artists out there still taking pictures with film. While film is among the more well-known analog photographic methods available, there are chemically simpler ways of taking pictures available for those willing to experiment a little bit. Cyanotype photography is one of these methods, and as [JGJMatt] shows, it only takes a few commonly available chemicals, some paper, and a slightly modified box camera to get started.
Cyanotype photography works by adding UV-reactive chemicals to paper and exposing the paper similarly to how film would be exposed. The photographs come out blue wherever the paper wasn’t exposed and white where it was. Before mixing up chemicals and taking photos, though, [JGJMatt] needed to restore an old Kodak Brownie camera, designed to use a now expensive type of film. Once the camera is cleaned up, only a few modifications are needed to adapt it to the cyanotype method, one of which involves placing a magnet on the shutter to keep it open for the longer exposure times needed for this type of photography. There is some development to do on these pictures, but it’s relatively simple to do in comparison to more traditional chemical film development.
For anyone looking for a different way of taking photographs, or even those looking for a method of taking analog pictures without the hassle of developing film or creating a darkroom, cyanotype offers a much easier entry point and plenty of artists creating images with this method don’t use a camera at all. There are plenty of other photographic chemistries to explore as well; one of our favorites uses platinum to create striking black-and-white photos.