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Topic: Small run PCB manufacture (Read 37 times) previous topic - next topic

Jinksy_skipper

Aug 23, 2016, 06:51 pm Last Edit: Aug 23, 2016, 08:17 pm by Jinksy_skipper
Guys,


I recently designed a circuit board for the Mega which had an ADC on board along with connectors for various modules - LCD, Bluetooth, RTC, WiFi, uSD LAN and I2C - a bit of a swiss army knife of PCB's. Anyhow, all the components are through hole and it takes about half an hour to solder each one. I had them fabricated through a local company but in order to get a good price per board, I needed quite a few and I have sold several on eBay which are being put into various uses.

Now, I'm getting a bit more adventurous and I wanted to try my hand at smd components and I have re-designed the ADC boards for another project I am working on. The new design included the ADC, 3 X DAC's for analog output to the customets SCADA an RTC and Bluetooth and XBee adaptors.

The problem there was that I couldn't afford to have too many boards made as I only really need a couple for my customer. And whilst I usually hate pop-ups, I could have kissed my PC when I found an advert for a company in China who make 10 prototype PCB boards, up to 100mmX100mm for just 10$ - I actually paid more than that per board for the 80X58mm ones I hade made here.

So I thought I'd give them a go and I can't believe how fast they made them! They got here from China, faster than the ones from the UK

Anyhow, if anyone has any aspirations to make yourselves some pcb's, I would suggest you download the freeware version of Eagle which is fully functional apart from a 100X100mm limitation in board size. Its dead simple to use - or at least I think so. You start with a schematic, add in your components and connect them up with what eagle calls a 'net' When you have finished, you go to the board design where you will see all the components you have added connected with a 'rats nest' of wires. Move them about until you are happy with the placement and tell Eagle to autoroute. I just wish I'd started using Eagle sooner. Oh and the best thing is its libraries. Say you want to design a shield for the Uno or Mega, well there are ready made libraries with all the correct placements of pins etc. I cant tell you how long it took me placing the connectors on my first project before I found Eagle.

So, once you've made your design, pop along to www.pcbgogo.com/b and get yourself 10 shiny new pcb's to assemble. The people there are really helpful and the whole process very quick.

The attached photo shows my new board.

Hope this inspires some of you to get designing. Oh, and if you've never used smd, solder paste and hot air reflow before, I can tell you it is damn therapitic when the dull grey paste turns into a shiny silver pool of moulten solder and the component wriggles into the correct position using the solder's surface tension!

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