PCB Manufacture


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 designed two more boards for a project I am working on. The problem there was that I couldn’t afford to have too many boards made and although I just hate the way your computer knows what you have been looking at and keeps offering you more of the same but 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 yesterday the boards arrived - they would have been here much sooner only I was away, I can’t believe how fast they made them!

So 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 ting 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.

Anyhow, once you’ve made your design, pop along to www.pcgogo.com and get yourself 10 shiny new pcb’s to assemble. The people there are really helpful

The attached photo shows may two boards one is an ADC board which connects to the MEGA2560 like a shield and has pins to take a 3.95" TFT and xBee module, the other is a DAC board to feed analog information back to a SCADA unit.

Hope this inspires some of you to get designing.

Looks good to me.

Pcbway gives 50 bucks credit if you review them on several websites. I assume this is a similar deal.

Hope this inspires some of you to get designing.

And if it does, you'll find my templates for Eagle available to download here