My "Anoetcherdizer"

Ok all, here it is, my anodizer slash etcher slash marking machine.

One tool does it all.

Don't be a moron like me and try and build this thing at home. I'm sure it could kill you, and I won't be responsible for that.
Just don't do it.


An over view. Ignore the votages on the tape, they are wrong

Just another view

The guts

More guts

More guts. Note the battery for the meter.

Closeup of the power ON LED.

Closeup of the Variac

Various Leads.

Just the Leads again.

Ok, I don't know how to draw Schematics, so I'll just explain.

Power In:

  1. Green Grounds the system to earth. It connects to the Variac, and via the Variac to the box.

  2. White line goes to connecter #4 on my Variac.

  3. Black goes through my fuse, then through the ON/OFF switch, ending at the #1 spot on the Variac.

AC Out

  1. Variac #3 to one pole of the DPDT switch, this side of the switch will now decide Variable AC power

  2. Variac #4 to the other pole of the DPDT switch, on the same side as the other AC line.
    Meter the damned switch 1st so you know how it works.

DC Out

  1. Variac #3 to Rectifier

  2. Variac #4 to Rectifier

  3. Rectifier negative to DC side of DPDT

  4. Rectifier Positive to DC side of DPDT

The DPDT Switch

  1. The negative side of the switch to the black banana jack

  2. The positive side of the switch to the red banana jack
    Remember now, these are the 2 center poles of the switch, but you knew that because you metered it right?

Other Goodies

I used an LED light that comes already set up for 110 power. It is wired to Variac #1, and #4. These poles do not vary the voltage. It lights up when the power switch is ON.

I also wired in a cheap muti-meter. I might do it different next time, but here's what I did.
I soldered wires to the jacks on the inside of the meter, and ran those wires into the box.
They are connected to the + and - sides of the Rectifier.
I leave the meter on DC voltage, and just always read that.
Through testing, I have discovered that my AC voltage is actually 10% greater than my meter reads.
Since I know that, it's a non-issue for me. 10% is an easy # to do the math on.
I imagine if the meter were wired into the AC side instead of DC, it would read incorrectly on the DC.
I want DC correct, so it's easier to share anodizing info.
One last thing that I did was wire up the battery so it's accessible to the inside of the box. If you can't come up with a way to do that on your own, you should NOT BE TRYING THIS PROJECT.

That's really all there is to it.

Once it's built, you need to play around with etching and marking voltages on some scrap.
I get great marks with about 12, 3 second touches of DC @ 14v (Etching voltage, not free voltage) then Mark with 15 to 20, 2 second hits @ 14vAC. I use electrolyte EX-D20 from
It took me a few tries to discover that the hand pad needs to be the negative side too.

I very highly recommend T.U.S. Technologies for your electrolyte and stencils. They are inexpensive, and on the ball.


I used

  1. The big metal box I had lying around, should have used plastic.

  2. Powerstat type 21, 5a Variac

  3. Large Bridge rectifier

  4. 120v LED

  5. Single pole, single throw switch for power ON/OFF

  6. Double pole, Double throw switch for determining AC or DC. It should have a center OFF position, and never send any poles to ground.

  7. Harbor Freight Muti-meter.

  8. Banana Jacks

  9. Various wires and connectors.

















Copyright 2006 Brian Fellhoelter