Electronics > Projects, Designs, and Technical Stuff

PROJECT: PCB Etching Tank

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For a while I am in search for a good etching tank, but the good ones are expensive and cheap ones are crap.
For example the Velleman model or the Taiwan model are known to fail, they start to leak after a while and not even on the glued pieces but on the material they use. There are some examples on the Dutch electronics forum. These models cost around 70 euro till 90 euro.

Before I start, this is not going to be a Tupperware or whatsoever tank, I want nice solid and fast etching tank.

After reading those stories about leaking I decided to go with a glass tank, but the problem was finding right size tank, I don’t need to etch big PCB’s the standard 16cmx10cm (6.2”x3.9”) is more than enough for me. I was in hunt for a glass tank around this measurements: 40cm (15”) high, 30cm (12”) wide and with 15cm (6”) depth.  I want the height for the 500Watt heating element which I will explain why so much power.

The only option for such tank was a battery jar (also known as glass battery box), no glues or silicone kits whatsoever, a nice solid tank, I didn’t want to get some aquarium tank because of the silicone joints. After a long search in the garden stores I was about to give up, the biggest problem was the height, most tanks where around 15 to 20 cm

Today my wife ask me to pick up something in a garden store, I never checked this store before because it was in another city and my wife saw something in a add. While I was walking in that store I was also looking for a battery jar and I found one!
Not the exact measurements I want but it was close enough for me, this thing was pretty cheap too, it was on discount and it cost me 15 euro :)

Measurements are 30cm (12”) high, 20cm (7.8”) wide and deep, it’s little bit wider than I want but I am still happy with it.

Before we go in to the materials:
I will post every update including pictures and videos in this start post.

The idea is having a tank which heats up in no time and etches pretty fast.

The tank: it looks pretty solid and has 5mm thick glass:

Almost all materials below are from this ebay store: Aquarium HQ

The heater: I ordered 2x 300Watt aquarium heaters (P0w4H in the house :P ), like I said I want a fast etching tank, the idea is to get around 45C to 50C (113F to 122F) in no time and stay there, but most aquarium heaters are limited till 35C like this one below, so I have to open it up and hack it in some way to make it go till desired temperature, if that won’t work I just take out the thermostat and short it, there are digital aquarium temperature controllers if needed, these are not that expensive.
This is the only decent priced 300W with this length btw:

If anyone wants to buy a heater don’t buy chrome ones, we want as much possible glass made material in our tank ;)

The air pump: I took a pump with high rating and because of the rating I wanted a adjustable pump, we don’t want our PCB’s flying around the room after all. The pump is rated at 192liter air/hour (50gallon air/hour) There are some dual outlet pumps out there but I want minimize the tubing.

The bubble maker: I didn’t want to drill holes in some tubes and see if the bubbles get all over the tank so I went for a aquarium bubble air wall, which has the right length for the tank, I ordered 2 air walls and they will be attached at the bottom of the tank:

A old fashion good trusty glass thermometer:

Last but not least, small materials like T-pieces, small knees, tube, suction pads for the tube and most important a check valve, we don’t want the aggressive etching material in our pump when it is sitting next to the tank.

That’s all I can think of to get, I ordered them all and when these arrive I will keep this topic updated with the test and finishing it.

Price tag till now is still reasonable with 64EUR or 85USD or 81AUD or 54GBP

PS: If you find any typo’s or bad English grammar, you can keep it :P

yes I have not yet found a decent container for etching and a "cheap" one off ebay just fell apart on me....

I think I would be paranoid that localised heat would crack the glass, as 5mm isn't very thick.


--- Quote from: Zad on March 26, 2012, 08:44:42 pm ---I think I would be paranoid that localised heat would crack the glass, as 5mm isn't very thick.

--- End quote ---

it would be a sudden temp jump that would crack the glass, if the heater is kept away from the side it will be ok

Because of my work I tested a lot proto type machines in the past and wrote up testing protocols.

This is not industrial of course, but when the bubbler and the heaters arrive I will do a long term test, like from room temperature water till around 45C and try to keep it there for hour or two with the heaters attached on the glass, if it cracks bad luck we start over again :)


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