PCB source?

It looks like a lot of people here are making very nice PCBs and selling them fully assembled for what appears to be very good prices. They look like retail products. What tools/services are people using for these? I’m interested in making some of my own (typically one off items). Hopefully something that gives you prices instantly with online ordering.

Also, I would be interested in any good source/tools for doing laser (or other applicable method of cutting) cutting of sheet plastic. To make items like the attached image.


Hi Hoss,

What i use.
Eagle for design
DFrobot.com for PCB’s (China)

Other PCB’s
Seeedstudio.com (China)
Oshpark.com (US)

The boards from China are of very good quality and i generally get them back in the UK at ~8days after order.
DFrobtot has the best colour range and price - Chinese orders are 10x copies for each design.
Oshpark only comes in purple but has the best online order system.

Hope this helps.

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If you want small numbers of boards, oshpark rules… multiples of three is great for keeping the environmental impact down for personal one offs

From my limited experience, Seeed and DFRobot are equal in quality, and pretty similar in delivery time. They also kill OSHPark on price if you want small boards in multiples of 10.

OSHPark’s ordering system is impressive, however, as is the quality of their boards.

I’ve been using ITead Studio for PCBs for a while, and I’ve been very happy with them.
They also do low cost chemically etched SS stencils.
I may have to give DFRobot a try though.

For design Eagle seems to be an essential stage if you want to use the GHI reference designs as a starter.
For my last board I used DesignSpark, it is free, has none of the limitations of the free Eagle version, and worked well for me.
I’ve also installed KiCad (Open Source), looks good but I haven’t done a full board with it yet.

Thanks everyone, lots of good info for me to research on!

Has anyone tried (and can comment on) some of the online ones that have their own design apps such as the below? Several years ago I tried express PCB and liked simplicity and ease of the process from end to end (and the price), but that was also back before silk screening, solder mask, etc.

+1 for DFRobot. Great quality, prices, and exceptional service. Kinda like the GHI of PCB manufacturing :wink:

Is everyone assembling their boards themselves (soldering, etc) or do some of these services include a fully built product? I noticed the DesignSpark service has a model database and provide BOM quote, but I wasn’t clear if that meant it just helps you order the parts, or if you were getting a complete assembled product.

The DFRobot service looks to be the same as the Imall service. Seems like a 3rd party service that allows multiple vendors to incorporate into their site. Seems DFRobot is the common choice though.

its too expensive to hsve one-off or small run boards professionally assembled, time to practice with the soldering iron !

@ Hoss - Never used the service myself but its worth to take a look… at PCB component placement | Beta LAYOUT Ltd.

For european members, http://www.eurocircuits.com/ or http://www.pcb-pool.com
Both have an Eagle plug-in that let you set up your order directly from the eagle board toolbar.

Good quality and price but default processing time = 14 business days… : http://www.makepcb.com/

Hi @ Hoss. PCB Designing is fun and it’s getting easier and more fun with each day, that’s probably why more people are getting interested in it these days. For my professional work, I mostly use OrCAD since I can’t take any risks on that front. OrCAD is a great tool, it provides you everything you need in an easy to access way and all the tools are within one centralized software. However, for my hobby projects, I use design spark which is not only fun and easy but has great support which is increasing with each and every day. In order to get our designs manufactured, it’s cheaper and easier to get them manufactured from a variety of companies such as Bittele.com. For starters, when you order them for a small amount of board, you’ll get a Bill of Materials and all the costs upfront and within the given time, you’ll get your PCB fully manufactured and at relatively lesser rates. Do try the available software and resources and let us know what you find best.

Hi Hoss,

Seeedstudio always is best choice in case of “made in china”.
And if you like PCB assembly service, It is better to fabricate and assemble PCB in one place. I have tried PCBA Turnkey service from NexPCB.com, it include components and free shipment. link: PCBA Turnkey Solution – NexPCB
They has an USA team to communicate with me in USA.

I tired plain PCBs with these guys in China, they also have an office in Canada:

They have excellent quality, service, and pricing. Haven’t had the chance to try their assembly.

I know it isn’t available yet, but I have high hopes for http://www.turnkeyassembly.com/

Yes we hope to get everyone a PCB with the parts already on it, still cheap :slight_smile: Soon I hope!

@ Gus -

I travelled around turnkeyassembly.com, I think it’s amazing when it remove “coming soon” :smiley:
One more questions, dose it focus USA only?

@ billatghi - We have always worked internationally and this will be true for turnkey assembly as well.

Avoid using free software from PCB manufacturers. Their intent is to get you tied in to getting PCBs made through them. You need a package that supports outputting to the industry standard Gerber format.

Options include(but not limited to)
Eagle -2 layer limit and 100x80mm. Historically popular with makers.
DesignSparkPCB - Unlimited even for commercial designs.
Circuit maker - Free version of Altium. But only if you publish your designs.
DipTrace - 300Pin limit.
KiCAD - Unlimited Open source. Always improving.

Personally I use Designspark because it’s unlimited and I often do big boards or with more than 2 layers. And i’m a cheapskate. And learned it before i’d heard of KiCAD.

I found KiCAD a little difficult to learn, but i’m sure it’s excellent when you know it well. Also I think it has more advanced features than all the others bar Circuit Maker.

A lot of people care deeply about the package supporting a vast library of parts. Personally I don’t think it’s hard to generate your own anyway. Eagle is apparently pretty good in this regard if you need that.

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