Main Site Documentation

PCB Fabrication Options


#1

I know that there have been a few threads where we’ve discussed these, but I thought it might be useful to have a dedicated thread…

Per the thread about my IR LED Array Gadgeteer module (http://www.tinyclr.com/forum/21/5554/), I’m looking for a place where I can get some PCBs fabricated inexpensively. I started out with DorkbotPDX:

http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order

since Architect has used them and has been very happy with the results (and they’re cheap, which is a nice bonus), but after 4 or 5 emails from two different accounts (in case one was getting spam filtered), and no response, I’m going to have to move on and try something else.

What’s the next best option for small-batch PCB fab?


#2

If you dont mind longer wait time

http://batchpcb.com/index.php/Products


#3

@ Rajesh

Can BatchPCB take Eagle files directly, or only Gerber? I’m sure it’s possible for me to convert, but if there’s another service that can go straight from an Eagle board file, that would be preferable.


#4

@ devhammer,

On the dorkbotpdx site he notes that he is VERY behind with emails… Maybe waiting might still be faster than batchpcb?


#5

@ Errol

True, and I don’t mean to run Neal down in any way…given the amount of email I get daily, I can certainly sympathize.

My concern is the uncertainty. I have no way of knowing at this point whether or not he’s even received any of my emails, nor what the status is of the service. Based on the progress bar on the site, it appears that he’s still filling boards and processing orders, but the last actual updates on the RSS feed were more than 10 days ago, and it’s been 5 days since I sent the first email.

Not necessarily unreasonable for someone who’s doing this as a sideline project, but I figured it doesn’t hurt to explore what other options are out there. Plus, this thread may be helpful to others looking for small batch PCB fabrication in the future.


#6

You have to provide gerber files to BatchPCB. SparkFun did publish a CAM definition to make it easy from Eagle, get it here from

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/Eagle-DFM/sfe-gerb274x.cam

For a quick howto:


#7

You may have to look no further than our very own GHI for PCB fab. Not sure what a “small batch” will be, but I do know they’re going to help us out with this kind of stuff - particularly if it is something that hooks up to their products :slight_smile:

BTW GHI, how is that spiffy new production line coming along? Any test runs yet?


#8

Ghi’s line is for assembly only, if i remember right.


#9

As already mentioned in the other thread there is the SeedStudio service which looks to be equally as cheap but they shut down till the end of the month so they’ll probably be behind at that point also. Also, for Gadgeteer modules a big pain point for me would be that they don’t offer black solder mask. :frowning:

http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-service-p-835.html?cPath=185


#10

Looked now again at BatchPCB. Thye are cheaper per square, but have a setup fee equal to 4 square inches.
They also dont have the fine track/space of Dorkbot, which I need.
Dorkbot = 6mil/6mil track space and 13mil min drill…
BatchPCB=8mil/8mil track space and 20mil min drill…


#11

@ Ian

I looked at the module developer’s guide the other day, and I don’t think black solder mask is a requirement. I just looked again, and the only “must” is for power-providing modules to use a red solder mask. The specific language for modules in general is “the solder-resistant color should ideally be black, but can be a standard green.”

Which actually means that DorkbotPDX is more likely out of sync with the recommendations, since purple is neither black nor green. :slight_smile:

For prototypes, it’s probably not a big deal either way, but if I ended up ramping up to a larger production run, I’d probably find someplace that could do a black solder mask.


#12

I understand but black is the “cool” color. I can’t imagine any of my module ideas going beyond small batches. If there turns out to be a larger demand I’d probably work something out with GHI to take it over since that’s not where my interest lies.


#13

@ devhammer : you could go to 4 layers with BatchPCB if you really need 6mil traces. A little more expensive than 2 layers, but quality is there anyway.

Also do not forget that with BatchPCB you (very) often have more PCB than ordered :wink:


#14

Just went ahead and took the time to export the Gerbers for BatchPCB, uploaded the design, and placed an order for 10 boards to test and prototype with. I think the turnaround is supposed to be about 2-3 weeks, but at least it’s moving forward! :slight_smile:

Total ended up being around $35, including shipping and the $10 setup fee. Not, too bad.


#15

That’s certainly a reasonable price. Post some pictures when you get them.


#16

@ ransomhall

Will do.

Also, checked a couple other places that were recommended, Sunstone and My4PCB. Neither of them were even close to the pricing from BatchPCB or DorkbotPDX, though Sunstone’s value line came reasonably close (but as with BatchPCB only offers green soldermask, etc.).

@ Ian

Was just looking over Seeed’s PCB offering, and one of the Q&As at the bottom of the page suggests that it is possible to get black soldermask, just not in the small quantities (<100pcs) of this service.


#17

Take a look at myropcb. I tried them and I am very happy with the result. Not the cheapest, but affordable. And they offer black mask.