Discovering PICAXE

This project began at the Pontefract radio club – PDARS – in November 2011.  The idea was to introduce the power of microcontrollers and then to use them in ham radio projects.  We chose PICAXE to simplify the implementation of members’ ideas.  Beginning with an introductory presentation, we followed up by discussing the design of a project board with two PICAXE chips (And 8-pin and a 28-pin) and its layout on a PCB.

We learned about laying out a printed circuit board through a talk by Colin, G0NQE using PCB Wizard then made our own boards: exposing, developing, etching and drilling.

At PDARS – the Pontefract radio club – we began the Introduction to Microcontrollers project with a presentation on microcontrollers in general and PICAXE in particular.PDARS Board Etching

The club members then had an evening with Colin, G0NQE who introduced laying out PCBs using PCB Wizard (Using version 4) and creating a photo-image of the finished printed circuit board.

The design for the board was then exposed onto photo-etch printed circuit board on a later Tuesday evening, developed and etched.  In all ten boards were etched and finished and nine members began to build their PICAXE Experimenter’s Boards the following week.

Building the PDARS PICAXE Experimenter’s Board

Evening One in Pictures

These photographs were taken at Pontefract radio club at Carleton Community Centre during the exposure, developing and etching of the printed circuit boards for the PICAXE project.

PDARS enjoys exclusive use of a club room and a radio shack area in the centre.

Club nights are Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday is usually the more practical evening and it was on a Tuesday that we made these PCBs.

PDARS: visit www.pdars.com

PCB Etching Kit
G0NQE arrives with the materials, the chemicals and the hardware to expose, develop and etch the project PCBs
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UV Exposure Unit Mark, M0ZIM introduces us to his UV exposure unit

There are a number of ways to expose the photo-sensitive printed circuit boards but the most reliable uses a purpose-made ultraviolet light box such as the one shown in this picture.

We’ve also used halogen security lights, slide projectors and a variety of other light sources.

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Colin, G0NQE, stirs the brew: Preparing the ferric chloride solutionG0NQE stirs the ferric chloride solution

Safety First

Safety first -
always wear eye protection when using chemicals!

Finished board

Completed board -
8-pin and 28-pin ICs for size comparison

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