Some PCB fab houses (like SeeedStudio, with their Fusion PCB service) will allow you to panelize smaller PCBs. For example, if you have a 2.5cm x 5cm board, you could panelize two of them on to a single 5mm x 5mm PCB. Or, put a 7cm x 7cm board and a bunch of 3cm x 3cm boards onto a 10cm x 10cm panel. Seeed will allow up to 5 sub-boards on a panel.
The freeware and light versions of Cadsoft Eagle limit the design area of the PCB to 10cm x 8cm. This is enough to do many projects, but when you want to try and panelize to fill a 10cm x 10 cm board, it won’t work. Plus, maintaining separate projects and updating them on the panel, and maintaining consistency of labels and reference designators can be a pain.
Panelizing PCBs for Seeed Using Eagle Free - [Link]
View and share gerber files for your printed circuit board design online. So simple!
Circuitpeople.com – View and share gerber files online - [Link]
How would you like to make a single or multiple Printed Circuit Boards in less than 2 minutes?
crreed @ instructables.com writes:
This project has been in my mind for quite some time and I thought it would be a good time to finally build it. The idea began when I was tired of spending 25 minutes sloshing a Printed Circuit Board (PCB from now on) around in a plastic tray and waiting for it to finish etching. It was messy and wasted a lot of time. I began to search for an alternative and did not get much farther than a bucket with a fish tank bubble machine and perhaps a heater. Sprayers seemed like the most practical solution but the commercial available ones cost thousands of dollars and there was no guide that allowed someone to create one to use in their own shop. That is, until now.
Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Sprayer Machine - [Link]
Automatically generate Eagle footprints for Microchip parts - [Link]
This device is a countdown timer specially designed for PCB exposure box.You can set how many minutes will be on UV light device , store this time in PIC’s EEPROM . Pressing start button lights are on until preset time ends. When lights are off an audible signal is heard. Microcontroller used is Microchip’s PIC 16F877. I used Mikroelektronika Mikropascal compiler to program the chip. Delay time 1-255 minutes.
Count down timer for UV PCB exposure boxes - [Link]
When designing PCBs that will be produced professionally (or even if you etch yourself) it is sometimes hard to get a good view of what they will look like. Most CAD programs view the design in a way that is useful during design but that is not what they will look like in the end. Some provide a view mode or 3D rendering option to get a good idea, but at least CadSoft Eagle does not. What if you want to view what your design will look like or if you just want a fancy graphic to show off your wonderful PCB? Photoshop comes to the rescue.
Using Photoshop to create a realistic PCB image - [Link]
Derek Wolfe writes:
There are a lot of hobbyists that want to design and build their own custom printed circuit boards (PCB’s). It will save you money if you’re making a lot of different board designs on a small scale. If you need to make 50 copies of something or don’t want to spend the time to make your pcb’s just order them from a professional pcb manufacturer. This procedure is for people who want to get their hands dirty and learn how to make their own circuit boards for lower cost, faster turnaround, or the simple satisfaction of it.
My method of fabricating pcb’s is based on the numerous tutorials and websites that describe the familiar ‘Toner Transfer’ process. After practicing a few years I’ve combined parts of each tutorial with some tricks I’ve learned to make this fabrication procedure. This method is useful for making single boards or panelized board designs. I prefer toner transfer vs. a photolithography based method because the copper clad boards are very inexpensive when purchased in bulk and there is no light sensitive photoresist to worry about. Photolithography is capable of better resolution and smaller feature sizes than toner transfer but it’s only a limitation for extremely small features (i.e. <0.005″ wires).
PCB Fabrication Procedure using Toner Transfer - [Link]
Over at Blondihacks, Quinn’s written up a really thorough post about etching your own PCBs, building on what she discussed in past documentation. There are a lot of tutorials out there about etching PCBs, but this is probably one of the most complete I’ve seen, particularly if you’re still getting to know Eagle.
PCB Layout and Etching Tips and Tricks - [Link]
In the last few years many inexpensive PCB services have popped up. It used to be that buying PCBs in hobby quantities was expensive and filled with gotchas.
Now, places like Seeed Studio can send your PCBs to the inexpensive prototyping factory in Shenzhen China, and ship them anywhere in the world at great prices. You get two-sided PCBs, with the works, starting at $1 per 5x5cm PCB. Turnaround is a few days, worldwide shipping starts at $3. It’s a happy day for electronics hobbyists.
Other services like DorkBotPDX and BatchPCB pool multiple orders so the group benefits from bulk pricing. Enough people are using these services that turnaround is quite fast. DorkBotPDX offers signature purple PCBs that have become quite popular.
HOW-TO: Get your PCBs manufactured - [Link]
I just finished writing up some of the details on DIY plated through holes. This is what the simple constant current source was designed for. This process was slightly adapted from Think and Tinker – a really great site for DIY PCB fab. The overall process is:
- Drill holes in the PCB
- Coat the holes with a mixture of water-proof ink and finely powdered graphite
- Cure the ink so it doesn’t rub off
- Dunk the PCB in the electroplating tank, apply current, and let chemistry do the rest of the work.
Electrochemically plated vias for homemade PCBs - [Link]