Here are our picks for the best "must have" items!
We've used these over the years with great success. We do not sell these items. Each has its own hot link to find a dealer with the best price.
Finally, a fast acting tin-plating solution we really like! Made by MG Chemicals a leader in small user-quantity chemicals has a great product! This product is reminescent of the long discontinued GC Electronics product where you had to mix stannous chloride crystals with diluted sulpheric acid (!) only to have it "dead" in a matter of weeks. Liquid Tin on the other hand is ready to go out of the bottle with no known shelf life expiration. Terrific!
Clean PC Board thoroughly. Pour Liquid Tin into an appropriate size pan constructed of polypropylene, polyethelene, or similar material. Do not use stainless steel. Immerse PC Board in the solution for 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry.
Tin plating solutions always leaves the plating looking dull, however, if you scour the plated surface with 4-ott (0000) steel wool from any hardware store, you will get tin as bright and shiny as pure silver! We suggest you redunk the board back into the solution a second time to ensure total plating.
Available from most all electronic supply dealers
Click here for MG's world-wide store directory
4.2oz (#421-125ML) ~ $10
17oz (#421-500ML) ~ $33
A very unique product that consists of 3 silver bromide powders that will plate copper with 1/10,000" of real silver. Simple to use. Merely wet a paper towel with water, dip into the powder and rub over the copper surface. Within a minute, voila! silver plated copper. Wash surface with water and dry. Product was originally developed for the high voltage industry to be able to plate large high voltage contacts in the field before assembly.
Available direct from Cool-Am - 2oz (#1233-500) Priced at $30.00
Conductive Ink Pen "CircuitWriter:
A unique item for the ben
h. Made by several companies. When prototyping a design and it becomes aparent that an extra trace needs to be in the circuit, instead of making another board, you can simply draw the trace needed right over the fiberglass PCB base. The ink is highly silver impregnated for superior conductivity. Plus, when the ink has fully dried, you can even solder to the drawn line as if it were an etched copper trace!
Use for your most intricate work. Makes instant silver conductive traces on most surfaces. Draw traces on circuit boards, repair defective traces, make smooth jumpers and shield delicate electronics. Dries in minutes. Valved pen tip for easy application.
There are at least three companies that market this type of product that have slightly different names.
Available from "Parts Express" and "MCM Electronics" (just to name two)
Product #CW100P , Priced at $15~$18.95
Eyelets "Plated-Thru Holes":
Eyelets are an interesting alternative to both the expense of sending boards out to be fabricated with "plated-thru" holes soldering a wire to both sides of the board.
The drawback of eyelets is their size. The smallest of eyelets have a barrel (drill hole size) of .030 ~ .040". As small as this might seem, you have to remember there is a flanged head that takes up another .020" so you've got a total diameter of .060"! This is MUCH larger than commercially made board via's. So, for making prototypes "in house" you will be pretty much stuck with the "soldered wire" approach. You will also need a special Forming Tool and Anvil in an Arbor or conventional Drill Press. The tool set is matched to the diameter of the eyelets barrel.
In general, we feel the eyelet solution should be used sparingly for unique situations only. Take for example, where you have a vertical cap where one lead must be soldered to a pad on on the TOP of the board. Obviously one can't get a soldering iron under the cap and still have it flush to the board! Here is the ideal situation for an eyelet so you can solder both leads from the bottom of the board allowing the head of the eyelet to make electrical connection to the TOP trace. Any sort of "blind" situation is ideal for using an eyelet.
We have a technique for making real plated-thru holes via silver ink. It's quite novel and will be updated as time goes on. It seems very promising to be THE method for DIY "PTH". Catch it under the TECH SUPPORT menu button; "Plated-Thru Hole" page.
Available from International Eyelets, Inc. (INI)
Product # F-4062-C, Priced at $.10/ea in quantity
Translucent Green Spray "Solder Mask":
To make circuit boards look as good as possible for presentation, we discovered the translucent green spray paint from Testors, a major model paint manufacturer. When sprayed over a complete board, the translucent green magnifies the green of the PCB's fiberglass layer to give you the conventional green "2-tone" look of a real solder-masked board. This is mainly for presentation purposes.
We are working on a very simple method to actually setup your board for a real solder mask using this paint. It will be
Testor enamels are fast drying, easy to apply. Finely ground pigments mean superb flow and coverage. Testor aerosol spray enamels are all lead free. NOTE: Enamels require 48 Hrs. to completely cure.
Available from Testors (or "car/boat/plane" type hobby stores)
Product #1601, Priced at $4.94