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Author Topic: Have you ever ordered printed circuit boards ?  (Read 1752 times)
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I'm considering to order a PCB because:

-Would like to assembly a circuit, but make it reliable and see a finished quality object I have designed
-More and more chips are only available for surface mount
-I would like to learn how to do it, it's a challenge

Any idea about where to order them ? Will they be too difficult to design ? And to assembly the surface mount chips ?

All your comments will be welcomed, thanks a lot for your help.

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There are no end of threads about cheap PCB fab houses, have a bit of a search.

It's not rocket science to design a PCB but takes a while to learn the tricks of the trade.

I've just started doing SMD assembly, it's easier than PTH. I use a hot air station but many (most?) people just use a soldering iron and solder wick or a toaster oven or even a fry pan.

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Start by downloading the free version of Eagle from CadSoft: http://www.cadsoftusa.com/ - there are lots of tutorial pages out there if you google around.  It'll take a while to get the hang of it but its powerful enough for most purposes.  Its free for non-commercial use limited to small 2-sided board (100x80mm I think).
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What about this place ?
http://www.expresspcb.com/
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expressPCB has good software but it's locked down to only save in a format understandable by expressPCB. You can't take your design to a fab house you like unless you can save in Gerber file formats, which expressPCB can't (simply won't). EAGLE can do it and there are many that use EAGLE on this forum that can help you. Lots of tutorials on sparkfun.com or just youtube search.
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I see. Seems clear that the way to go is learn EAGLE, at least to begin.
But once the design is finished, where would you send the file to manufacture a prototype ? Any advice ? Thanks !
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Lots of places to go with. I suggest you go with batchpcb.com first. sparkfun.com owns that operation. They have tutorials on sparkfun so got to give them some credits ($$) for their work. It's not the cheapest but has worked fine for me so far. Another place is dorkbotpdx. It's cheaper per board but you order copy of 3 so unless you need more than 1.
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I went with Eagle, the http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/109 tutorial, and http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order for my very first custom PCB.
The whole process went pretty well I thought.  My results here...
http://thedeltaecho.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/2zjduino-v0-1-shield-finished-product/

[Edit: Also, see this tutorial...
http://aaroneiche.com/2010/06/24/a-beginners-guide-to-making-an-arduino-shield-pcb/ ]
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 04:06:46 pm by Mitch_CA » Logged

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I've used Dorkbot.  They made nice boards, and it's hard to beat the price of this sort of service if  you're making small boards.  For larger boards, the prices quickly approach those charged by "individual service" companies.  For example, Olimex will sell you 24 square inches of board (just one) for about $50, which you can't match from Dorkbot or BatchPCB.

Itead and Seeed seem to have really good deals, especially for open-source boards (they get to sell them if they want.)
People have been pretty happy with them.  Ditto Olimex (especially for eastern Europe.)  Each vendor has some things to watch out for; do some googling before you ship off your design.
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$28 for ten pieces 10 cm x 10 cm

http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=19_20

took 12 days from order submission to my mail box
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I use PCBcart and am very happy with them. Last time they even spotted a bug and fixed it for me so I didn't have to resubmit files.

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$28 for ten pieces 10 cm x 10 cm
http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=19_20
took 12 days from order submission to my mail box

Hi Frank, What format of design files did they require?  Do they have specific ground rules to comply with??  What design software did you use??

Thanks!
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$28 for ten pieces 10 cm x 10 cm

http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=19_20

took 12 days from order submission to my mail box

Really? Have you ordered more than once? My order from a similar service took twice as long and this time longer (still waiting smiley-mad)
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Futurlec.com will also accept expresspcb files for boards, along with others.

See Step 5 here:

http://www.futurlec.com/PCBService.shtml

expresspcb is quick, submit your file over internet and receive three 3.8"  x 2.5" CCAs back in about days, $51 plus shipping ($9 to Boston area). Good quality boards too.
Here are some I had made, made the design on 1/2, copied it over, then hacksawed down the middle to separate prior to assembly.
I have assembled 12 pairs if lights so far.

No matter who you go with, check the whole sizes selected for things like connectors.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 12:22:00 am by CrossRoads » Logged

Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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$28 for ten pieces 10 cm x 10 cm

http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=19_20

took 12 days from order submission to my mail box

Really? Have you ordered more than once? My order from a similar service took twice as long and this time longer (still waiting smiley-mad)

Many times, usually it takes 5 days for the PCBs to actually be made, the rest is shipping.

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