Apache AL13P & TL-320b - One Pass PCB Toner Xfer

Single pass Lower Temp Toner Transfers. Now available as a DIY kit. Open Source, Dual laminator compatible!

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Build this Project to add these laminator capabilities:
1) Can transfer toner at LOWER temps plus adds thermal sensor failure protection
2) Speed control using multiple automatic fwd/rev passes suitable for synchronous AC motors.
3) Cool down function for rollers that overrides the heater.
4) No other mods required. Safe 12VDC build.
5) Under 2 hours including building the kit. Available on EBAY.
6) Achieve 10mil traces with 1 oz copper reliably.
7) Plug n Play operation, no soldering or mods to laminator circuitry.
8) Fully reversible mod. Operates at less than 80% OEM maximum temperature!
9) Optimizes magazine & PCBFX Pulsar paper transfers & Dry transfer to metal products!
9a) USE EBAY Yellow toner paper too!
10) The Laminators can be toggled to do 'normal' paper & card laminations at the touch of a button! No loss of original function!
11) NO tightening of tensioning bolts required:
12) Uses under 500 8 bit bytes. Note the Sim.png image .



EBAY sold kit available, 100% feedback.

For your convenience: Contact me at for a direct DIY kit of all parts, incl. the programmed PIC & PCB: $33 shipped. PAYPAL. Also, the package is coming from outside the USA, so for USA buyers it will take about 2 to 3 weeks to arrive, up to a month worldwide. South America addresses can be up to 2 months (worst case) as I have noticed.

I've taken a robust document laminator (AL13P or TL-320B) that features all metal construction with metal gears, silicone rollers and temperature control, and added features to make it more suitable and safer for toner transfer using readily available papers, especially magazine paper or PULSAR products & Dry Transfers! Yellow EBAY Toner transfer paper works quite well. Note the thermal image indicating a 6% high roller temperature. Helps for precision work when presetting temperatures to suit different Toner brands. My Printer is an HP1102W. OEM or substitute Toner works fine.

I have been frequently frustrated by having to use a combination of clothing iron and document laminator as reliable results are ever elusive.
Converting a laser printer to direct PCB printing is complex and not a project I wish to entertain. It would be heavily mechanical and the results would still require post printing 'fusing' of the print onto the copper. I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the easy to modify Apache AL13P from Amazon to simplify and streamline my PCB making using non photographic methods. Have a look at my SMT PCB prototyping Hackaday project for more detailed usage pics & videos.

Powerful Capabilities:

Reliable, repeatable, cost effective and time effective toner transfer to single or double sided copper clad board up to 1/16" (or thicker) (1.6 mm) thick. The detail of the toner transfer method can be as good as 5 mil! explains how to do this with 5mil detail with their enhanced papers. Thus, it is suitable for a lot of SMT applications as well. Yellow EBAY toner paper is also excellent.

I do single pass, double sided transfers, aligned/registered via 0.5mm - 0.8mm 'pinhole vias', built in to the layout at each PCB corner and then simple etching of both sides at once. This beats the multiple step, direct printing method which requires tricky, flip over & reprint alignment & resist curing for both sides of the printed board by baking or additional chemical baths before the etching. Also, direct printing requires a dedicated printer to hack apart, literally, as well as additional dedicated inks or toner/roller cartridges adding costs. This project only adds capability, it does not defeat the original purpose of the laminator and does not require expensive supplies, only paper!

1) Thermal sensor failure protection.
2) Speed control using multiple automatic fwd/rev passes suitable for synchronous AC motors.
3) Cool down function for rollers that over rides the heater AND keeps the rollers in motion for a fixed 16 minute period with an alert to shutdown after.
4) No other mods required . No roller tensioning required!
5) It takes less than 2 hours to make the modifications including building the kit.
6) It achieves 10 mil traces with 1 oz copper reliably.
7) Plug-n-Play operation, no soldering or modifications to laminator circuitry.
8) Fully reversible modifications.
9) Optimized for http://PCBFX.COM & magazine paper (eg. Pop. science mags or Harbor Freight Catalogs). Yellow EBAY toner paper is also excellent.

It o
perates between 320 F and 350 F to span the range of board stock from scissors cut-table thru 1/16" (or thicker) double sided transfers. HP Toner temps. Other brands may be a bit different. Use 380F for Brother Toner.
Net speed reduction is approximately 12:1 achieved by using recurring 5/8" forward and 1/2" linear reverse motions cycle with the rollers. Heater is OFF during reverse part of...

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9h etch layer2.jpg

After etching

JPEG Image - 977.76 kB - 12/28/2016 at 14:39


9f Foil transfer 2.jpg

After foiling, side 2 of doublesided transfer

JPEG Image - 1.82 MB - 12/28/2016 at 14:39


9g Etch layer1.jpg

After etching

JPEG Image - 948.00 kB - 12/28/2016 at 14:39


9e Foil transfer 1.jpg

After foiling, side1 of doublesided transfer

JPEG Image - 1.89 MB - 12/28/2016 at 14:38


MPEG-4 Video - 30.75 MB - 12/28/2016 at 14:38


View all 12 files

  • 1 × Beeper (3-5V) jameco part # 2098523
  • 2 × Capacitor 0.1 uF 50 Volt X7R (10V minimum) jameco # 544921
  • 3 × 10 uF 50 Volt Radial Capacitor (25V minimum) jameco # 29891
  • 1 × Resistor, Trimmer 10k Ohm Jameco # 770371
  • 3 × Transistor General Purpose BJT NPN jameco # 783421

View all 13 components


    mosaicmerc11/21/2014 at 01:21 0 comments

    Theory of Operation

    A document laminator is tuned to apply temperature and pressure suitable for sealing plastic pouches over paper and card stock. Heavier duty laminators can handle heavier pouches and heavier card and are capable of higher temperature operation. Print Toner is mainly pulverized plastic and melts within the range of laminator temperatures (around 150 Celsius) at the rollers.

    In order to optimize toner transfer to copper clad board of various thicknesses and copper weight, the laminator must increase its temperature{, }pressure or both. This is usually achieved by using multiple maximum temperature passes; up to 20 times for a particular toner transfer to be of good quality with no drop outs on non optimized papers. This method is tedious and prone to repeatability issues based on such factors as the board length & thickness, copper weight, ambient temperature and the speed with which the board is returned to pass through laminator again. The thermal capacity of the copper clad and its cooling between passes is the variable here. Each additional pass increases the net temperature of the board to approach the roller temperature and re-presses the toner onto the copper.

    The modification simply automates the multi-pass approach and adds both time & energy efficiency benefits while simultaneously enhancing both repeatability and safety. Relying on the 60 Hz A.C. synchronous motor speed, the linear motion of the rollers is controlled via forward & backward mini passes to achieve up to a 12:1 speed reduction of the original linear speed. No alteration to the rotational speed or torque is used. No tampering with the 120 VAC power is done. This provides a number of direct benefits such as: reduced roller hot spots as compared to 'stop & go' slowdown methods; repeatable roller speed versus triac based speed control; chopper methods of speed control which stutters a synchronous motor. Lastly, the best benefit is overlapping heat/pressure passes with insignificant copper clad board cooling in between; delivering energy and time savings.

    The effectiveness of the approach is enhanced by the nature of the Apache AL13P control system which offers integral motor direction and temperature control. The modification leverages the features of the OEM control and does a minimum of alterations. Adjusting the tension of the rollers via the 4 bottom screws should not be required, limit doing this to a turn or two of tightening to avoid overloading the motor. The net result is reliable transfers using much less heat and pressure and time compared to other 'popular' laminator instructable type mods done before. Optimizations are possible for faster production by having more OEM temperature headroom in the laminator without hacking the heaters and risking a fire or laminator damage.

    The modification circuit employs a small PIC 12F675 micro-controller to sense the OEM thermal sensor's condition as well as to control the timing of the roller motion and provides a simple man-machine interface for control. A beeper is included to provide for audible feedback or alerts based on the selected operation mode of the system or any alarm conditions. A thermal sensor failure will now result in an alarm sound and failsafe shutdown of the heater for safe operations.

    All the features of the modification are optional and the laminator can serve its original purpose or switch to copper clad lamination or 'dry transfer foil to metal' at the touch of a button. The modification is integrated into the OEM controller seamlessly and utilizes the OEM DC power to operate. The modification's schematic details each pin function of the OEM controllers 6 pin cabling system for convenience of debugging. The mounting of the modification requires NO drilling, cutting or alteration of the laminator as it is mounted in an OEM provided fan cutout in the housing.

View project log

  • 1
    Step 1

    Building the Add on PCB is simple, just a few parts. You can test your build by applying 12V+ on pin 4 and a ground on pin 3 of the 6pin inline wire to board pads. The Beeper should emit a 1 second beep. Building the CAT5 (15") 6pin cables to attach the female 6 pin connectors is critical. Don't mix up the pin numbering. Note the pictures showing pin 6 on both the stock Apache Relay Brd and Display Brd. Also the connector orientation for both cables is opposed, see the pic. Color code: Pins 1 thru 6 as : green stripe, green, brown stripe, brown, blue stripe, blue; on both cables. Org and org stripe unused. Note drawn image in files folder.

    Opening the UNPLUGGED laminator is easy using the four bottom corner screws. Remove the two screws to the LED display first, let the display drop inside. Now u can remove the cover easily.

    Use a hot air supply (hair dryer) to loosen the hot glue holding the 6 pin ribbon cable in place between the stock Relay & LED display seen in the PIC. Note the pin6 identifier on both boards in the picture. Install the new 6 pin cat5 connectors. Match the add on display connector to the display board and the relay/main connector to the relay board. Rout the cables away from the rollers. Install the LED Display back into its cutout and mount the add on board in the fan cutout using a pair of 6-32 x 1/2" screws. Ensure the push button protrudes thru a slot and is operable without sticking. Also the trimmer pot should be accessible via a slot. Adjust the trimmer CCW to provide for best toner transfer (slowest forward speed). Leave the grey roller cover off to observe the roller operation when adjusting the roller forward/rev setting. If the rollers appear to stop and not reverse, your rev. cycle time is too low, adjust the speed control.

    Your modification is complete. Just remove the grey flat piece of metal (with semicircles) on the top cover parallel to the rollers, it is attached via two twisted tabs. It can interfere with the PCB movement.

    Note that Tightening the 4 laminator tensioning screws as per PCBFX etc. is NO longer required OR recommended as it can cause the laminator motor to stall and BURN your rollers making lots of smoke. You can laminate super thin FLEX PCB with no tightening now, thicker boards are also accommodated better.

    See the sidebar on the page for links to CAD & code files.

View all instructions

Enjoy this project?



RFEngineer wrote 06/11/2017 at 18:01 point

Hi, I am new to the forum.  I bought the Jameco kit and I think the
programming of the pic chip is incorrect, but not sure.  How can I
troubleshoot the circuit to make sure?  I tried to run the buzzer test
that is called out in their instructions.  I put 12vdc to dp4 and ground
to mp3. I see 5vdc on pin 1 of pic chip and ground on pin 8.  Pin 4
does go low when I depress on the momentary contact.  Pin should
probably go hi, (I guess)?  But it does not.  Any suggestions?  Thanks

  Are you sure? yes | no

Yankee Farmer wrote 02/26/2017 at 04:58 point

I bought Ancel's kit on eBay and an AL13P for $25 also on eBay, put everything together and have been churning out PCBs for a few days. This combo is the cat's meow. Perfect transfers every time! I haven't tried 2-sided PCBs yet, but plan to. I use the clear overhead projector film and a cheap HP laser printer. The clear film seems to need a higher temperature, so I run the Apache at 379 degrees, and run the PCB through twice on the regular setting to preheat, then push the mod button and run it through a complete cycle and drop it into cold water when it comes out. One of my boards has maybe 8 or 10 mil traces that run between the donuts on a 34-pin header and they etch perfectly with peroxide and HCl etchant. Start to finished etch is about 15 minutes, and I run 3 boards at a time (4" x 6"). This really takes the guess-work out of PCB-making and all for way less than $100 US.

Very happy! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/04/2017 at 02:58 point

Really pleased to hear about your  progress.  My original mod is running about 2.25 years now....and  I cringe at the chancy iron on transfer process that was my old method. If you set up EBAY search parameters to email notifications when new deals come along you can get really good ones. I got my Trulam for $1.99 auction as 'non working'. Pulled her apart and there were 3  letter size laminations all crunched up between the rollers and the heater so nothing else could pass.  Clearing that restored full function.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Yankee Farmer wrote 05/04/2017 at 04:18 point

I picked up a couple on eBay, and made my own boards as an exercise. It was my first experience programming a PIC controller. I also modified it a bit for higher temps...a 2k trim pot in the thermistor circuit adds about 30 degrees F to the total. I needed it to get a good, single pass transfer with the clear film. I have since switched to the yellow eBay paper, and no longer need to go higher than 340 degrees. I moved the temp and speed pots and a different push button to the front, and had to add a cap to better debounce the bigger button, but it all works like a charm. I have done dozens of boards at this point....perfect transfer every time. I program arduinos, but the PIC program is beyond me...if you ever get a minute, I'd like to shut off the cool-down beeper. I like the beep on mode change, and it would be nice to have it beep when cool-down is complete (mine takes about 20 minutes to cool down to 140). I tried modifying the program, but effed it all up, LOL. Not a big deal, I just desoldered the beeper for now. Thank you for the design! I couldn't have done it by myself in 1000 years. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/04/2017 at 16:38 point

Hi farmer....I added a version 2.11 hex for the PIC. in the files link...that will eliminate the frequent cooldown beeps 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Yankee Farmer wrote 05/05/2017 at 03:18 point

Hi mosaicmerc....I see v2, v2.1, and v2.2Beta, but no I just looking in the wrong place? Thanks, BTW!

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/05/2017 at 14:19 point

Files are transferred now

  Are you sure? yes | no

Yankee Farmer wrote 05/07/2017 at 06:02 point

Got it. Everything is working great now! Thank you.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 12/07/2016 at 19:41 point

The Trulam TL320B laminator ($99, Amazon) looks remarkably similar to the Apache AL13P....I wonder if anyone has access to one and can share a pic of its controller.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 12/13/2016 at 16:34 point

Ok, I have a Trulam on order....I'll evaluate it and provide a mod for it....

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 01/27/2017 at 17:58 point

With the Trulam being a match for the Apache, all's good and works well....I see an Apache AL18P for  a good price on Amazon now

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/25/2016 at 23:21 point

Just tried it again. When first activated by a push of the button switch, after only 1-2 seconds the forward - reverse motion stops after a 1-second beep. If I push the button, the forward - reverse movements start again, and this time it works for maybe 10-12 seconds before the beep and the forward - reverse motion stops. Pushing the button again will get another 10-12  seconds of the expected movements. Any ideas?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/26/2016 at 11:21 point

The PIC is resetting /rebooting. Verify the rectifiers that snub the relay coils are in good order  and functioning on the mod PCB.  Also verify the 0.1uF Cap across the PIC power rails is also properly installed.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/26/2016 at 19:18 point

I opened it up to check. The weird thing is that with the cover off, and the mod PCB resting on the table, everything worked as expected. So I put everything back together, but same problem! It appears to reset after a few seconds. This is driving me nuts!

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/27/2016 at 13:29 point

As I noted below. loosen the 6-32 mounting screws a bit and see if the prob. goes away.  

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/27/2016 at 22:29 point

I did loosen the 6-32 mounting screws, but no cigar... works with the top removed, but not when the whole thing is buttoned up. Oh well,, since I won't be making PCBs very often, I guess I will just open up the laminator when I want to make PCBs. Thanks for your help!

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 12/26/2016 at 12:41 point

Donald, replace the 10uF caps with another set or 22uF if u have....I managed to replicate the issue and if the tolerance of the electrolytics are on the low side you can get the prob.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 12/29/2016 at 23:30 point

Will not be able to try this for several days since I am out of town, but will do so when I return. Thanks! 

But why would the problem only occur when the case is closed and not when it is open if it is an out of tolerance cap? Temp related

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 02/12/2017 at 23:31 point

Finally got to replace the 10uF caps with good quality (Nichicon) caps of higher temp rating. I used 10 uF because I did not have 22uF caps on hand. However, the problem persists. Within a minute or two, a long beep emits and  the laminator goes back to its default function.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/12/2017 at 23:50 point

One other possibility...your temp sensor connector is intermittent. Wedge it tight with a bit of PCB or something similar.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 02/13/2017 at 00:56 point

I will try that, but the problem does not occur when I have the cover off, leading me to believe that it has something to do with the temp of the mod board components or mechanical vibration causing the switch to trip. If it was the temp sensor, I would expect the  problem to persist with the cover off, no?

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 02/15/2017 at 02:05 point

I think I may have solved this problem (keeping fingers crossed).

I replaced the tactile switch with one that had a longer length for the push button. This allowed me to  use spacers to move the PCB a little farther away from the wall of the cabinet. With the old switch, because of its short throw, I could not use spacers tall enough to move the body of the switch away from the cabinet. I think the vibrations from the cabinet were being transmitted directly to the switch causing it to trip.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/15/2017 at 02:35 point

Hmm,  perhaps that tactile had a low contact force.  But I do supply 160gf 13mm brown tactiles with the kit now....easier to feel for with the laminator in a rack. If yours is a shorter black one could have been a 50gf that got supplied rather than 160gf units. I could do a s'ware patch to increase the 'debounce' times if this happens to anyone else.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 02/15/2017 at 12:49 point

Yes, the tactile switch that came with the kit I ordered from Jameco had the short black one. I replaced it with a long (10 mm) black one. I do not know what contact force the switch is rated for. If I start having problems again, I will have to look for the brown switch with the higher contact force. What is your source for the brown switches?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/15/2017 at 15:33 point, search for tactile switches. 6mm square size

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/25/2016 at 01:50 point

Need some help here..

The mod was working just fine a few days ago. Today, when I turned it on and pressed the button-switch to activate, it starts out fine, with the forward - reverse movements as expected. However, after a few seconds, it emits a beep and the roller no longer reverses direction; just keeps rolling in one direction. Any ideas on how to trouble shoot and fix this?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/25/2016 at 12:17 point

sounds like its getting reset. Does pressing the button start it back with the forward/back cycling?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/26/2016 at 22:35 point

It's possible the tactile button isn't exactly aligned in the CASE slot and is producing fake clicks due to vibration in the housing. Slacken the PCB mounting screws a little.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/12/2016 at 22:53 point

Jameco sent me a replacement PIC, but unfortunately that did not work too. Either it was not programmed at all, or it had firmware that was corrupt or whatever. Luckily, the PICkit 3 programmer that I ordered just arrived and I programmed the chip with the HEX file on this site  (v 2.1) and everything is working great now. You may want to inform Jameco that they are dropping the ball with the PIC programming.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/08/2016 at 12:12 point

OK.. got the kit from Jameco last night and assembled it. On testing, however, I do not get the 1-second beep. The only time I get any sound from the beeper is if I touch the base of transistor 1, and then it is more of a continuous chirp rather than a beep. Not sure how to troubleshoot. I have checked voltages, and the 7805 regulator is putting out 5v (4.96V actually, on my DMM). Do you think I received an unprogrammed PIC from Jameco? Any help troubleshooting and fixing the problem would be greatly appreciated!

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/08/2016 at 12:49 point

It's quite possible. Do u have a Pic programmer handy? I have heard of this 'problem' before....a reprogrammed chip solves it.

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 11/08/2016 at 13:23 point

No, I do not have a PIC programmer. If there are any cheap ones available, I would like to buy one. I have never programmed a PIC before, so this will be an opportunity to learn. Is there any way of checking to see if the PIC that Jameco sent me is programmed? (other than the 1-second beep)

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 11/08/2016 at 15:34 point

No, that is the indicator the firmware is running. Asking Jameco for a replacement PIC that is properly programmed has worked in the past. Ebay item # 311689085628 can program the pics

  Are you sure? yes | no

donald_s_58103 wrote 10/30/2016 at 21:32 point

I added a comment  a short while ago, but it does not show up. I'll try again.

There appears to be a discrepancy between the photo of the add-on board in the pdf documentation and the picture of the two 6-pin connectors showing the sequence of the color-coded wires. 

The pdf document shows the cat 5 cable connected to the add-on board in the following sequence (from right to left, pin 1 through pin 6): green/white, green, brown/white, brown, blue, blue/white. However the picture of the connectors shows this sequence: green/white, green, brown/white, brown, blue/white, blue. So which is correct? I have the kit on order from Jameco and wanted to clarify this issue before building it.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 10/30/2016 at 22:15 point

The image shown here is correct.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jim wrote 11/25/2016 at 07:09 point

Hello Ancel.

You recommended item# 311689085628 PicKit3.  That only comes with the icsp cable.  This adapter item# 182330060727  or:

is very useful and makes it easier to program a lone pic.  If you do a lot the icsp cable would work but I find these adapters more convenient but that is just my personal preference.

Also this SOIC8 cable item# 112184952077  might be of use with smt parts.  At least with the adapter board it is easier (at least for me) to program Dip pics.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mangus Tiranus wrote 10/21/2016 at 19:55 point

Looks likes some ones ripped this how to off and selling it on ebay for a few dollors...

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jim wrote 10/19/2016 at 15:15 point

I am not finding the dropbox link to your latest Hex file.  Can you give us the link to that? I think your project is great and well done.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kimvellore wrote 10/16/2016 at 00:08 point


  I need some help debugging. I just finished the hack and on power up, nothing happens. Is there a timer that I have to wait before the push button is active?. I tried quick push and long push. The laminator was just working as normal but no heat. Please help.



  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 10/16/2016 at 00:34 point

Did you verify the beep on the bench top when power is applied? Is the PIC chip programmed with V2.1 of the hex? No heat implies the relay driving the heater is not engaging so have a look at the wiring of the  main and display PCB 6 pin headers as per the color coded image shown. There is no timer on boot up. As you power up the laminator the unit should beep once. Verify that all the wire jumpers on the circuit board have been installed.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kimvellore wrote 10/16/2016 at 01:05 point


  Thank you for the quick reply. I dont get the sound from the board on power up. As for the programming I purchased a pre programmed kit from Jameco. I will try to program a new chip and test. The one I got just has a blue sticker with nothing written on it.

I rechecked all connections and jumpers and it looks OK. I could send you a pic of the board and connections.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kimvellore wrote 10/16/2016 at 01:15 point

Hi, where do I download v2.1 hex file? I see version 2 at Jameco. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 10/16/2016 at 01:21 point

Note the Yellow dropbox link for all design files (incl. hex code) located under the pics at the top of this hackaday page.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 10/16/2016 at 01:24 point

Jameco does not supply the wire jumpers on the circuit did you install them using hookup wire?

  Are you sure? yes | no

kimvellore wrote 10/16/2016 at 21:21 point

It works now perfectly after I put in a pic with the V2.1 program. The PIC from Jameco was not programmed. Thanks for the help and making the Hack available for all of us. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 08/20/2016 at 21:31 point

I see these AL13p laminators on sale EBAY #302046270012 as of August 2016.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 07/14/2016 at 16:21 point

I don't know that brand. EDIT...I purchased the item...and it is identical to the Apache....I transferred the mod and it works with no alterations.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kimvellore wrote 07/14/2016 at 07:09 point

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 07/14/2016 at 16:20 point

That link just provides a hard copy of this info, and helps folks not familiar with hackaday. The laminator is usually sold by Amazon for < $100 but it goes fast.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mikecay wrote 05/02/2016 at 11:54 point

Thank you for the quick response. I don't have a programmer but I will attempt to program it using a Rpi and this sketch

I have all the part already, and If that does not work I will order a PicKit3.  The whole idea of ordering the kit was to avoid this part.  In any case, with this type of stuff you learn a lot more when there are problems.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/02/2016 at 12:08 point

Juts tell Jameco the uC isn't programmed and they'll send out another for u. It's happened before.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/02/2016 at 18:59 point

Some EEPROM programmers like the Willem PCB50 can do it as well.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mikecay wrote 05/02/2016 at 02:29 point

I also bought the Jameco kit and have the same problem as hwilliams18.  When I do the 12v test on pin 4 and gnd on 3 I get nothing.  I validated everything, my jumpers are in place but no luck.  Any help would be appreciated. 


  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 05/02/2016 at 02:55 point

I am suspicious about Jameco programming. Do u have the ability to program the processor? Also, I think I  shall offer this as a built & tested item, direct. The 3rd party uC kit and then DIY build seems a bit error prone.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/29/2016 at 05:50 point

Added a new, numbered,  image and video sequence in the 'PICS' dropbox link . Should clarify how it all works to make double sided PCBs in one pass.

  Are you sure? yes | no


[this comment has been deleted]

hwilliams18 wrote 02/25/2016 at 09:39 point

We have beeping!!!  Something is clearly still wrong, but the buzzer now sounds when I first power the board, whenever I press the button, and it goes through a beep sequence if I hold down the button for a few seconds.  It turns out my pickit3 did indeed overwrite the OSCAL value when I erased the board.  For whatever reason though when I wrote out the new code you uploaded (Thanks for that) the pickit3 decided to generate and write a new OSCAL.  Hooray for progress!

The good: Pin 4 of the pic goes ground every time I press the button.  The T1 emitter is ground.  

The bad:  The T3 emitter is always around 4V.  While the board is powered the buzzer constantly makes a low dull grumbling sound.  If I turn the pot all the way to the low side the buzzer beeps at full volume nonstop.  Turning it anywhere between the high side and just above the low side seems to have no effect.  Pin 2 and 7 never alternate.  Pin 2 has 4.95V at all times and Pin 7 is always ground.

So all that said...I am lost.  Pins 1-3 are constantly between 3.5 and 5V  and Pin 4 stays around 5V until i press the button.  On the other side of the board I get pretty much the opposite at all times.  Pin 5 stays near ground most of the time ~300mV.  It jumps to about 3V when the buzzer goes off.  During cool down mode it holds steady at .5V then peaks to 3V as the buzzer sounds.  

The weirdest thing to me is the sound of something oscillating constantly. It's impossible for me to replicate the sound via text, but its sounds as if the buzzer is a DC motor that isn't getting quite enough power.  If I hook up my multimeter to just the ground (MP3/DP3) I can watch as the bar graph at the bottom pulses constantly.  I'm having a very hard time describing it, but I'm hoping this information is useful.

I'm eager to hear what you think I should try next.

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/26/2016 at 17:59 point

Ok, this blog makes it tuff to maintain a thread, so email me  at so we can walk thru the probs. Pin 3 is an input that reads the 'voltage' from the speed pot to adjust the fwd/back motion of the rollers.

T3 emitter will be 'floating' until connected to the laminator so that's normal, UNLESS you have connection to the laminator...then there is a connection ffault.. Pin 5 ops looks normal. The best way to debug the thing is disconneted from the laminator. We can setup artificial 'relay' loads with  LEDs etc so everything is easily seen. I can also generate & supply code to  verify the operation of each 'pin' of the PIC, but  that's a last resort.

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soffee83 wrote 02/21/2016 at 16:56 point

Hi again Mosaicmerc,

I just had a couple quick questions if you've got a minute. I haven't been needing to do any PCBs lately, but apparently am still having the trouble I last had with poor adhesion. I tried a bunch of stuff and am fairly certain at this point that it's a lack of heat issue, although I usually run close to the max around 370. Boards that exit the machine (in mod mode) are warm, but not really hot, and the clothes iron technique still works fine with all the same materials and toner.

Is there anything I might want to know about that sensor I mentioned a few months ago? It appears to be set up for adjustment with that long cutout in the bracket, and if I carefully move it while the unit is running, there's a huge swing in the displayed temp with even the smallest amount of front to back adjustment. Is the little diode looking thing supposed to press against the roller? If so, how tightly, and if not, how much of a gap should it have? I saw in some of the docs that you could run a little over 330F for our PCB transfers, and everyone mentions single pass transfers, but if I did either of those, the paper would probably just fall off the board afterward with no toner making it to the copper.

I also bought an AC power meter, as that rapid relay clicking thing seemed to be tied to excessive current draw and was really bad in one particular area of the house. If it's accurate, it's showing that my Apache is pulling around five and a half amps, and almost 700 watts. The current spec in their book is less than half that at 2.4A. Do you have any idea if their figure is accurate, or does 5.5 sound reasonable for this sort of heater?

Lastly, when I was just in it, the outer housing of the motor gets too hot to touch. Does that sound out of the ordinary?

Thanks and sorry for all the questions!

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/24/2016 at 13:49 point

I did verify that the Apache rollers temp was within 6% of the digital readout. If you have a non contact thermometer you can verify this. The diode 'thing' IS supposed to touch the rollers. I'll have to put a Killawatt on the Apache to verify what it is doing power wise.  The boards are too hot to hold when they exit. I am running about 340°F at the moment for double sided 1 oz, 1.6mm thick board transfers.

  Are you sure? yes | no

soffee83 wrote 02/24/2016 at 16:51 point

Thanks Mosaicmerc,

I'll look into getting one of those thermometers. I had a feeling that sensor was in the right place (touching), and avoided pulling it back as I had read stories of people's machines burning up. If the temp is off, I'll let you know.

I've got a small board to do today and will play around with some lower temps and maybe re-adjust the mod speed pot. Are you running single pass, and do you flip the board on double-sided stuff?

Please post here if you get a chance to check the power consumption, and if you get yours open again for anything, please let me know how hot the motor gets.

Much Thanks!

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/24/2016 at 22:06 point

The Apache draws almost 6A , 700W when heating up. I do single or double sided PCBs in 1 pass. I also run up to 3 boards side by side at the rollers are wide enough.

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soffee83 wrote 02/25/2016 at 17:45 point

Thanks again Mosaicmerc,

I had a feeling that spec in the book might have been a bit low. 

I ordered a thermometer, but it will take a few days. I've also got eBay yellow paper on the way. I'm hoping to get my setup as consistent as yours. For the heck of it, I tried disconnecting the mod for one yesterday and manually alternated between forward/reverse. I did get decent adhesion with two or three passes, but was still up around 370F. Should the mod have any effect on the temperature when it's not in "cool down" mode? I'd like to get to the bottom of that relay clicking while heating up issue too, so I'll probably look over my mod and maybe blow another PIC just to be safe before it goes back in.

Take Care

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/25/2016 at 18:26 point

The relay shouldn't click during heat up. Don't activate the fwd/back passes until the Apache has reached tgt temperature. The  heater relay clicks on/off to manage the tgt temp. When the mod is activated , the heater  is 'clicked' off to prevent roller hotpots during the backward pass. If you're getting ok adhesion after a few manual passes and NOT with the mod then something is wrong.

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soffee83 wrote 03/04/2016 at 03:24 point


I just got a chance to check that temp with the new thermometer. It does appear to be quite low. Thermometer is this- 

I'm hoping I'm using the thing correctly, as I'm not sure how accurate it is on a non-flat surface. I would point it directly at the center of the top front roller after the temp had stabilized, usually at close range (sometimes 3 inches, and up to about a foot). At 370 (according to the Apache), the readings were in the 320 to 340 range, but weren't very consistent, and sometimes a bit lower. Worse yet, the ends of the roller were very much cooler (below 300), as was the bottom front one. At 300, it did the same and measured something in the 250 or below range.

Is there anything at all I might be able to check for, or any possible way to adjust it (I remember a trim pot on the display board or something)? Also, was your thermometer similar, and how far away was it? When I first got it, I checked a furnace pipe which was too hot to touch, and that also gave a  too-low reading. I'm wondering if it's just the curved surfaces.

I'll probably check the clothes iron next.


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mosaicmerc wrote 03/04/2016 at 03:32 point

I used  a FLIR E8 passive IR camera., as per the pic in the project showing the temperature range of the rollers. There is no 'adjustment' for the temp range other than the digital display, but I seem to recall adjusting the heat shields which reflected heat from the heaters back to the rollers when I dismantled the assembly to inspect its operations.  There are two heaters, top and below the rollers. If one of them is out of action you could get inconsistent temperatures. Although the 6A current draw seems to indicate they are both running.

  Are you sure? yes | no

soffee83 wrote 03/04/2016 at 03:47 point

Man, that's a nice camera/thermometer! I'm guessing you've got it for something else as well. I'll go in the Apache soon and try to see if anything looks out of alignment. I thought I remembered another mod page actually doing something to those shields, like cutting a hole in one or something.

FWIW, the iron just now didn't even seem to get over 200 degrees at almost the highest setting (where I usually run it). I don't know what to think now, but I won't give up on it. I may try to verify the thermometer readings on something of known temperature if I can work that out.

Take Care

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mosaicmerc wrote 03/04/2016 at 04:32 point

Shiny surfaces do not emit accurate infra red temperatures, dark matte surfaces do.  Colour a part of the surface with a sharpie to make it dark and measure that spot or use a multimeter thermocouple contact sensor.

  Are you sure? yes | no

hwilliams18 wrote 02/07/2016 at 21:21 point

Thanks for the project.  I ordered the Jameco kit and I finished assembly today.  When I put everything back together and turned on the apache it was clear I have a problem.  The rollers spin, but nothing heats up.  I set the apache to 350, but it holds steady at 85.  The machine also makes no beeping sounds and pressing the tact button on the new board doesn't speed up nor slow down the rollers.  The board seems to have no effect other than disabling the heater.  Any ideas what I've done wrong?  I didn't program the pic because one of your comments suggests it comes programmed from Jameco.  Also I used a 6 pin ribbon cable instead of a cat5, because it seemed cleaner.  

Side question:  I followed the instructions sent by Jameco to tighten the rollers :(  I didn't know not to until I came to this site and read the update.  Any idea how many turns will get me back to default?

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/08/2016 at 00:49 point

There are several jumpers marked on the PCB that must be installed, but don't come as components...they are just wires. If you get no beeps or activity etc.,it is likely they may not have been installed.  Loosen the rollers by about  3 turns each.

  Are you sure? yes | no

hwilliams18 wrote 02/08/2016 at 01:24 point

Thanks for the reply.  I have jumpers J1, J2, and J3 installed already.  I have verified I have everything on the board and I believe it is all oriented properly.  

  Are you sure? yes | no

mosaicmerc wrote 02/08/2016 at 05:54 point

Did you get the circuit to beep during the 12V, power on, bench top test before installation? That is an indicator that the uC booted and is running. If that did not work check the 5V supply/ & gnd to the  uC pins 1 & 8.. Do the usual...observation checks, polarity of the transistors, beeper and the 5V reg. Since you used your own ribbon cable for the 6pin connectors you must ensure the pin for pin matching as the color coded pic won't match your build.. Note that the cable is wired 'backwards' on one of the 6 pin connectors. With all that done and all is well, then I'd suspect the uC may not be programmed properly. If you have a PIC programmer this is a DIY fix using the hex file from the dropbox link. If not, Jameco will have to send you a new uC.

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hwilliams18 wrote 02/08/2016 at 06:23 point

The one step I haven't done is the 12v bench top test.  I don't have a bench top power supply to do the test with and I'm too novice to just grab some plug lying around the house.  I guess I'll grow a pair and try some random 12v power supply.  I'll get back to you on that.  

I can use an Arduino to reprogram the pic if I need to.  I'll try that after the 12v test once I figure out how to do that.

As for the ribbon cable I made sure that one of cables is 'backwards'.  So MP1 and DP1 are the same color wire, but the connectors are opposite one another.  It matches the pictures in the guide.

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hwilliams18 wrote 02/17/2016 at 03:27 point

Hey sorry for the long delay.  I went and got a bench top power supply.  If I put 12v + on pin 4 and gnd on pin 3 nothing happens.  No beeps or anything.  I'm not sure if this means anything, but the current readout on my power supply raises and lowers as I turn the potentiometer on the board.  

As for the "5V supply/ & gnd to the  uC pins 1 & 8" test I did what I assumed that means.  (again I'm very very novice).  I left the power supply connected to the board and put one end of my multimeter to pin 1 and the other to ground.  I get a reading on 5v.  If I try pin 8 I am getting nothing which I assume means its grounded.  At one point I accidentally shorted pin 1 to pin 8 through the multimeter and the buzzer started ringing.

I've checked double checked and triple checked the polarity of everything.   The only thing I'm not 100% sure of are the diodes.  The black line on the diode should be on the same end as the white line of the silk screen right?

I am assuming all of this means my pic is not programmed.  I'll get my Arduino set up as a programmer and see what happens.  Let me know if I'm throwing up any red flags here.  Thanks again.

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/17/2016 at 09:00 point

Ok, remove the PIC and reprogram it using the ICSP connections online. I don't know about using the arduino for this..

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hwilliams18 wrote 02/24/2016 at 04:41 point

I picked up a PICkit 3 programmer to make sure my Arduino method wasn't the cause of any troubles.  I programmed the pic with Lam_Mod_V2.hex and used the debugger in the pickit to verify that the programming was successful.  Everything went smoothly, but it hasn't fixed anything.  I have also checked every 5v pad I can find to ensure it is getting the proper voltage.  I think in doing so I might have found a problem, but I don't understand circuits well enough to know.  My voltmeter is showing that both the + and gnd pins to the buzzer are constantly at 5v.  Is that normal?  I assumed they would both be at 0v until the buzzer is intended to beep.  

Is there anything else you'd recommend I check?

Thanks again for all of your help!  I'm trying to learn to print PCBs so I can learn how circuits work, but I'm learning a ton just trying to install this mod haha.

EDIT:  Either I am improperly programming the pic or the pic is faulty.  With the pickit3 I can only erase the chip.  Every attempt I make to write out the hex appears to succeed.  However if I try to read in or very the code written to the pic I can see that all I managed to do was fill the pic with zeros :(  If use the "Erase" feature then read it back in I can see that the chip is now filled with 3FFF from top to bottom.  So all I can do is write all zeros or erase.  That...that cant be good haha.

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hwilliams18 wrote 02/24/2016 at 10:59 point

Sorry for bothering you so much.  I am extremely grateful for the help and I am thrilled to finally be working with a pic.

Further Update:  Google seems to think that I was unable to verify or read the code out of the pic because the CP bit is set.  I tested this by creating a new project in mplabX and uploading some simple test code.  After writing the test code to to the pic I can read it back out.  So now I'm sure I am able to program the pic successfully.  

So I suppose I have 2 or 3 questions.  Does Lam_Mod_V2_1.asm or .hex contain code that sets the cp bit?  Every time I write it to the pic the cp bit gets set regardless of what I tell the IDE to set it to.  If this is normal should I be able to read the memory with the cp bit set?  I have no way of knowing if the mod code is actually being written and I cant read it, or if there is a problem with writing.  

My last question is related to the code on lines 137 and 138 in the V2_1.asm.  Pasted below:

call       h'3FF'              ; You have to manually enter this value in the calibration input - sect pdf.

movwf      OSCCAL              ; h'3FF' is where the calibration value is stored. Usually 34xx

I have no idea what this means or how to acquire the value that I am supposed to be putting there.  I've erased and overwritten the pic multiple times so if this is a value I was supposed to read out of it than...I might have bit the pooch.  Do you have a suggestion as to how I should obtain the value?  It looks like there is a comment suggesting details are in some pdf, but I cant figure out what pdf that is a reference to.

Thanks and sorry again.  

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mosaicmerc wrote 02/24/2016 at 22:11 point


wrote 9 hours ago


Not getting option to reply so I am doing it this way.
I recompiled the hex code (use version 2.1)  to permit read back and verification.
Pickit series of programmers automatically do the OSCAL (oscillator
calibration)  protection by not overwriting that  value which comes in
each 12F675 PIC chip.
You can find out more about it from the 12F675 PDF spec sheet.
will see 5V on either side of the beeper as it is ground switched by T1
fed by pin 5 of the PIC chip. When the PIC pin 5 (output) goes logic
hi the beeper will sound as T1 will short its collector to ground and
the beeper will see a 5V Differential across its pads.
Verify that the emitter of T1 sees ground ( zero V). T3 should also be grounded.
T5 won't see ground unless its connected tot he  laminator via the 6pin connectors.

The beeper sounds upon power up and upon any button press.
4 (input) of the PIC detects the button press by reading a ground
instead of 5V. Ensure that when you press the button pin 4 goes to

Pin 7  (output) of the PIC drives the motor direction
relay via T5. A Logic high on T5 base switches this transistor collector
to ground like T1.
Pin2 (output) of the PIC powers the Heater
coil Relay (via T3) and switches the (normally closed) Relay to cause
the heater to go OFF  when the Motor Relay is reversed. Otherwise it is
on by default for normal heating.
So If you check the voltage on
Pin 7 vs the voltage on Pin 2 they should not be the same at any time.
Either near 0 or near 5V. If you place your voltmeter across pins 2 and 7
you should see a +/- 'near' 5V alternating every time the motor
toggles. BTW did you adjust your speed control to make sure the  motor
is not in 'reverse' most of the time?

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