Building a PCB lapel

The completed lapel!

Shiny..

A while ago, I chanced upon a satirical “boy scout badge” featuring the text “Centered vertically in CSS” by @mrgan.

I had little experience with fabric, but building a lapel out of PCB seemed like something that might just work. PCBs are typically built with extremely high tolerances for its copper and mask layers and still acceptably accurate for the silkscreen.

Hopefully this post documenting my build process will be helpful if you’d like to give PCB lapel designs a shot!

PCB Fab

OSHPark was an obvious choice for this project for several reasons:

Design

HTML Wordmark

HTML5 Wordmark, by daPhyre

I designed the lapel off the very popular HTML5/CSS3 shield design by daPhyre. This was done in Photoshop┬╣, using OSHPark’s preview colors as a palette. They only offer a dark purple soldermask and it looks great.

OSHPark Palette

Eyedropper-ed from OSHPark’s PCB preview

Thereafter, individual layers are exported for..

and imported into KiCad’s PcbNew via Bitmap2Component (KiCad).

Exported layers

Silkscreen can be used but I avoided them as they are generally less accurate. Bear in mind that silkscreen does not stack on bare copper areas, and will be automatically removed.

Custom board outlines appear to be OK too. The team at OSHPark appear to be very forgiving.

Pins and fasteners

Aliexpress Listing

I bought a pack of fasteners and pins from China/Aliexpress, specifically from Girl And Women Store (non referral).

There were stores selling the same pins in gold, which would’ve looked great with the ENIG finish, but I was concerned that the gold coating might be plastic-based, which would make soldering difficult.

Dimensions were unfortunately unavailable, hence I left a large circular pad (with my initials) on the back of the PCB to affix the pin.

Ordering it

OSHPark Preview

This was OSHPark’s preview at the time I ordered it. About 3 weeks later, the boards arrived in all its purple glory.

Assembly

Assembly was straightforward:

That’s it!


Tips / Lessons learnt

I also made a rough drawing of the pin’s shape in OpenSCAD:

Pin OpenSCAD

Really though, the only thing of note is the 5mm diameter land pattern.

Thoughts


This post was inspired by @kscottz’s questions. Thank you for asking!

┬╣ KiCad is currently my favourite EDA tool, closely followed by the non-free Adobe Photoshop