I decided to order a prototype PCB for my latest project in a professional fabrication company but i could’ t decide if i should order it in a company in Europe or Asia. I am located in Europe and I wanted fast and quality service so it seemed that ordering from Europe will be the best choice. But i also was curious about the quality of the cheaper Asia manufacturers. So i concluded ordering the same PCB on both an Europian and an Asian PCB manufacturer. I choose the following PCB manufactures :
Eurocircuits.com – offers a great user experience when ordering a PCB. You place your PCB in shopping basket, you choose PCB details and you get an instant quote for your order (including shipping, excluding VAT). After placing your PCB in shopping cart you are able to review you PCB in PCB Visualizer. PCB Visualizer is a great tool to test you PCB for manufacturability online. My PCB prototype (2 layers, 1.55mm FR4, 1oz copper, green soldermask, white silkscreen, Lead free HASL, 100% E-test, .. more details here) costs calculated at 85 EUR for 2 pieces including UPS shipping.
Iteadstudio.com - offers a pretty simple billing scheme, you choose from 5 sub-categories based on your max PCB dimensions. Quantity offered for each category is 5-10 pieces and prices are reasonable. I choose the 10x10cm batch offering 10 pieces (2 layers, 1.6mm FR4, 1oz copper, green soldermask, white silkscreen, Lead free HASL, 100% E-test, .. more details here) for a price of 24.90 USD + 25 DHL shipping = 49.90 USD final value.
Order on both manufactures done the same day. Both PCBs come to our door in 10 days. What we got:
- Eurocircuits – we received 3 PCBs in 10 days for 85 EUR. PCB quality is great, plating is more thick on bottom than top layer, pcb cut-offs from panel are visible, soldermask has a faded green color, there are marks from E-testing. Packaged on plastic bag (vacuum). Cost per PCB = 28,3 EUR
- Iteadstudio – we received 10 PCBs in 10 days for 49.90 USD. PCB quality is great, plating is more thick on bottom than top layer, pcb cut-offs from panel aren’t visible, soldermask is shiny vivid green color, there are marks of E-testing. Packaged on plastic bag (vacuum) + silica gel. Cost per PCB = 4,99 USD
I can’ t figure out any significant quality details between the two PBCs. To me IteadStudio PCBs seems more beautiful and worth the money. So i give +1 to IteadStudio for quality, quantity and processing time!
A great online PCB verification service for free…
For added peace of mind now you can verify your PCB data prior to placing your order. PCB Visualizer is an automatic tool for data input and manufacturability analysis. Clear graphic presentation pinpoints any issues found. You can then fix them up front, helping to avoid delays to your time-critical deliveries. Upload your Extended Gerber (RS274X) or CadSoft EAGLE V6 files and let us surprise you.
pcbvisualizer.com – Free online PCB data verification service - [Link]
Steve Taranovich writes:
Exar Corporation announced the next-generation single channel switch for USB VBUS power distribution applications. The XRP2523 switch is compliant with the latest USB 3.0 specification as well as the established USB 2.0 specification. The new specification provides higher power to the downstream peripherals and enables more efficient battery charging over USB.
Power distribution switch for USB applications - [Link]
Electronics are inside nearly every consumer hardware device you buy today. They are the brains and guts that make our devices interesting. If you’ re building a hardware startup, chances are good that you’ ll need to design and produce your own custom electronics. If you have an electrical engineer on your team, chances are they know how this process works. If not, then this guide is for you.
PCB Assembly 101 - [Link]
Super Simple SMT: Stencil8 – [via]
Over the years, I’ve soldered a fair number of boards. I’ve also seen how professional factories produce their boards. This is my technique for doing it myself, and I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. Note: the files needed to make the fixture, custom pcb setup, and stencil are on Github – Stencil8. This whole project is OSHW.
Super Simple SMT: Stencil8 - [Link]
Unit is based on Arduino Atmega328P MCU, with over 430 UV LEDs. The PCB board is made using Toner transfer method and isn’t perfect. It was just too big and I was too lazy to do it again. However, marker here, scratch it there and it it good enough.
The unit itself is on single sided copper clad board, no additional cables, no narrow paths (except for one for power on the MCU). Design is straight forward. It’s designed to be powered from 12V source (computer) and take around 2,7Amps @ full power which means around 30Watts.
DIY UV Exposure Unit with LED and Arduino - [Link]
With this free viewer, you can upload your Gerber files and have a 360 degree view of your PCB design. Launch the viewer to load your own design or view one of the example boards. So simple yet so effective! Worth a donate.
3D Gerber Viewer in your browser - [Link]
Etching is the process of eating away a pattern on a target material by using an etchant liquid that attacks the target material.
The most common target materials are copper and brass. The most common etchant liquids are ferric chloride, ammonium persulphate and cupric chloride
On a hobby scale it is common to submerge the target into a container filled with the etchant. This can be very slow and is often sped up by either mechanical agitation or using an aquarium / fish-tank bubbler. Even with the speed up from sloshing the container around this process can take 10-15 minutes for a PCB or over an hour for a thick brass plate.
The spray etching method uses the same etchant liquid as the submersion method, but instead sprays the liquid onto the target. This can speed up the process by an order of magnitude.
The Etchinator – low cost spray etcher - [Link]
Manufacture pcb using vinyl sticker and laser printer. Faster, easier and cheaper then ever.
Manufacture PCB using Vinyl Sticker and Laser Printer - [Link]
While sometimes quick and dirty works fine for footprints, if you ever have to deal with enclosures or particularly dense boards, you’ll soon find out that accurate footprints can make your life much easier.
There are some really nice, detailed and accurate footprints in the default Eagle libraries, but there aren’t a lot of resources out there on how to create them. This guide will hopefully serve that purpose, highlighting what works for me making connectors and similar types of footprints.
Creating Accurate Footprints in Eagle - [Link]