Etching PCBs goes a lot better if you agitate the solution in order to carry away the dissolved copper and get fresh etchant to the area. With that in mind[Rohit Gupta designed a mechanism in Sketch Up before realizing he was going about it the hard way. He ended up basing his agitator on a broken CD-ROM drive instead of starting from scratch.
He uses the CD sled from the drive, ditching the lens and its support structure. To get direct access to the motor that drives the tray he uses an L293D H-bridge chip. This is controlled by an MSP430G2231 microcontroller. The driver board seen in the upper right includes a voltage regulator, three status LEDs, and one user input switch. Once triggered, the sled will move back and forth, contacting an old mouse microswitch which acts as the limiting switch. We find it entertaining that Rohit prototyped the circuit on a breadboard, then used that success to etch the final circuit board (shown in the video below).
If you’ve been following the hacker creed and never getting rid of any junk you’ll have no problem finding a donor drive to make one of your own. But just in case you can’t get a hold of this hardware a similar agitator can be built using a hobby servo.
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