Home-Built PCB and Embedded Controller

I wanted to make a PCB with some nice lights on it to flash and be animated, so I looked into how to do it.

The LEDs would be driven by a microcontroller and all powered externally.



PCB Layout software (Eagle)

AVR Atmega328P microcontroller

Copper clad (basically a 1-sided coating of copper on a board of FR4)

An Iron

A printer

Magazine paper


Soldering equipment



The process is basically:

  • Create a PCB layout schematic (Eagle)
  • Laser-print it out (backward) onto magazine paper
  • Iron heat the pattern onto the copper, forming a layer of plastic-like material
  • Drop the copper into acid (etchant) which eats away the exposed copper, but not the plastic-covered copper
  • Drill holes in the copper where you want to place parts
  • Solder it all up



C++ as usual.

The program leveraged some LED fading libraries from a prior project.

The speed and direction and pattern was chosen at random each animation interval.

No user input or events to handle.



Main file here (link)

Supporting libraries under here (link)



Build Photos and Demo Video

Iron on printed image to copper clad

Wash off the paper, leaving melted plastic-like residue



Place and solder

My attempts in total, a few failures, worst being when I printed it out at 95% size on accident.


Full Gallery