Alternative Printed Circuit Boards
By Jon Tirone
(Also known as John Fisher)
Maybe I'm not the only one who does this, but I have found that I can quickly and easily create PCB's by simply soldering the components to the copper area of the circuit board without making holes in it. This makes custom circuit boards fast and easy and the layout much less critical.
I have made hundreds of semi complex circuits, like complete multi-channel audio mixers, amplifiers and other electronic projects this way. It's more efficient then bread boards. It used to drive me crazy to design a circuit board with holes as you had to keep turning the circuit board over to the other side to figure out what is going on. Doing it this way makes it a whole lot easier to check for errors as everything is on the same side.
Here is a section of a tube preamp where the components are soldered directly to the copper traces. I simply bent the component leads to a 90 degree angle and then soldered them directly to the copper areas.
Not even knowing exactly how my final design was going to end up, I filled in any extra spaces with extra copper strips in case there were more components to add.
Layout is not critical and I was able to draw it from scratch in just minutes, while waiting for an appointment. Some women bring there knitting to the dentist office, I bring my circuit boards.
One advantage of this idea is that you don't have to have things perfect, and unlike normal circuit boards with holes in them, you can make future modifications easily. Of coarse this idea is not practical with anything as complicated as double face circuit boards.
Here is a "quicky" that I drew up of a phantom power supply.This is just before I put it in the solution. I drew several extra areas for any future add-ons, plus filling up the area means that you will burn away less copper and your chemicals will last longer.
This idea of soldering the components directly to the copper is by no means better than your standard circuit board with holes, but I have found it to be practical. Although it doesn't seem so elegant, I have had a low failure rate in my projects. Try it you'll like it.
Here is a clone of a Tube screamer distortion pedal I built using this method.
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