Breadboards are all well and good for development work, but eventually things that weren't just "a bit of fun" are prone to end up on a PCB if you have the skills. And doing yourself isn't hard.
Nor, it turns out, if you use any one of several software packages to create the necessary "Gerber files" (not hard), is it hard to find someone commercial to make up a PCB for you.
What's hard is deciding which service to use! There are many factors, but even after you narrow the field by your particular requirements, there seem to be lots of competing services out there.
In the absence of a "PCBs etc" sub forum... I will presume to ask here....
Who have you used? Pros? Cons? (As in "reasons to use them"/ "downside". English is so wondrously ambiguous!)
A list of such firms, mostly just names, is available at...
(There are also notes on linked pages there on choosing a service, and on making your PCB by hand.)
I've successfully used BatchPCB.com, dorkbotpdx.org, and goldphoenixpcb.biz. All delivered a good product.
For a small number of boards (e.g. 3), I prefer dorkbotpdx. Laen is really good to work with, the boards are well made, and the turnaround is usually pretty quick.
For a larger number of boards (155 sq inches), I normally use goldphoenixpcb. Their turnaround time is pretty good, too. And the boards have been of good quality so far. There are some price add-ons for lead-free, extra routing points, etc. But all in all still a good value.
BatchPCB is a little pricey and way too slow for my current tastes. But the boards I got from them never had any problems. If you are not in a hurry, they are also a good choice.
I'm waiting on a couple of small orders from iteadstudio. Assuming that goes well, I'd probably add them to my list of options.
iteadstudio has worked well for my 2 orders. About 3 week delivery to Boston, MA area.
I have used BatchPCB for several of my panelized orders. This are specific to very tiny stuff, like a board just to hold an LED, resistors and IC. They allow for separation holes, or contour cutting in between panels to aid in easy separation later on. These guys take upwards of 21 days (non-expedited.) For non-panelized stuff, I use iteadstudio and get them back within 2 weeks (airmail to Colorado).
I've never had issues with either of them, at least not with the board itself. BatchPCB flubbed on an order of mine and it didn't get expedited like I requested, but they made up for it on the next order.
Yup.. +1 on Laen/DorkbotPDX and iTeadStudio.
I use Laen when I'm still working out a design, and then iTeadStudio when it's ready for larger quantity. You can't beat Laen's quality and service. Likewise, iTeadStudio's price is hard to beat, at <$1 per board at 5cm x 5cm.
Next month we're going to try out Laen's "medium run" order, which is $1/sqin with a min of 150sqin. That's not phenomenally better than the usual price of $1.66/sqin/board, but the boards look really nice so we shall try it.
sub'ing to thread...
I used batchPCB before.. wasnt in a hurry.. and things came out good and looked great.
I plan on using iTead in the next few weeks as I have been hearing good things about them lately.
taking this a bit further..
are there places/companies that will 'assemble' pcb's & components for you? (SMD/SMT) stuff?
Id like to hear of any commercial places that do this..costs and experiences.. (if any)
SInce this subject never comes up and google doesn't have any results either, let me add that I've been using Seeedstudio since year 2009. Very happy with the quality of the boards, options, and price. They only test 5 of the 10 boards, but I have yet to find a failed one.
My only dislike is all boards have to be retangular. Some services will route shapes for you, Seeed does not.
Boards are priced based on their rectangular area, but they most certainly don't have to have rectangular outlines. I just ordered a batch of extremely oddly shaped boards from them last month. 100% e-test is an optional extra, but not really worth the cost on the smallest available board size.
I haven't tried any of the other services but I've had very positive experience Seedstudios Fusion so far.