Finding a Board House

When I become so impressed with my own brilliance that I want to immortalize my design in fiberglass and copper, where should I look for a someone to turn my design into PCBs?

What do I want to look for? What do I want to look out for?

When do I stop ending my sentences with prepositions?

Depends on your timeline and your budget. My guess is you want this cheap and you don't mind waiting. In that case you should look at a PCB aggregator service, which combines your design with a bunch of others, sends it out as a single panel, then cuts it up when the panel comes back and ships out individually. These places include BatchPCB, DorkbotPDX, and....some others I can't remember right now.

There are also direct-from-China manufacturers like Seeedstudio's Fusion service, ITeadStudio also has a similar service I believe, and Gold Phoenix has a pretty good deal on complete panels which you can fill up with as many of your designs as will fit for a single price (and you can start your own aggregator service!)

Things to look for: design rules. Ideally, you started your PCB design with an eye towards your board manufacturer's design rules (minimum trace width, minimum space between traces, minimum hole/via size, etc.) If not, make sure you know what the design rules are so you don't get set back.

Other things to look for: look at your files before they do. Once you generate your Gerbers use a free viewer like GC-Prevue (gerbv for Linux/Mac) and make sure there are no surprises. Don't use silkscreen that is thinner than about 0.006" else it might disappear in manufacturing (or look really bad).

-- The Rugged Audio Shield: Line In, Mic In, Headphone Out, microSD socket, potentiometer, play/record WAV files

I recommend either or, I have had jobs done nicely at both places.


Immortality is always a nice fantasy.

Before you buy 5000/off boards, you will probably do well to get a few protos to test and "refine". It's all too easy to make small layout errors the first [or second or third] time around.

Once it's cast, you either have 5000 good boards, or 5000 paper weights in the closet. My last 3 pcbs all had exactly "1" minor error the first go. It's usually related to the last change you made to the board, or so.

In any case, I have been using the following guys for years, and always buy 10/off protos for $10/each to start with [see 10 piece deal]. Direct to China may be cheaper, but I haven't done any cost comparisons.

I've been using for quite a while. $9.90 for ten of 5cmx5cm boardsm $24.90 for ten of 10cm x 10cm boards. If you need the PCB designed, PM me, I can do that for a nominal cost, keep it all thru hole so you can assemble it easily if you want.