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Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
02-17-2016, 03:13 PM
Post: #1
Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
Hi all. I'm wondering if any forum member can suggest me a PCB manufacturer for a (calculator) DIY project.

The board will be a 2 layers, 9x15 cm^2 (~3.5'' x 6'') one.

The best offer I've found is that of "ITEAD studio", a Chinese manufacturer. They charge $48 for 10 pieces. Must add $12 for shipping to Spain, plus custom taxes. That's barely $6 (+taxes) each unit. Price in 4 layers doubles.

Does anybody have experience with any other manufacturer?

Thanks & regards.

César - Information must flow.
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02-18-2016, 08:08 AM
Post: #2
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
I have heard good things about Seedstudio Fusion PCB service, but never tried them...
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02-18-2016, 03:40 PM
Post: #3
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
I had used Seeed a few years ago. Now I am using elecrow mostly. Along w/ ITead, the quality and price are similar. I found elecrow's customer support more responsive.

For PCB larger than 10x10cm they are not very flexible. There is this pcbway.com you can try (get a quote). They are supposed to have more flexible and variable rate over 10x10cm so you may save. I had ordered from them very recently and have not received the boards yet, so not sure about the quality.
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02-18-2016, 06:14 PM
Post: #4
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
I recall making a couple in sparky school, 35 years ago.

Glad to see that sort of thing can be economically farmed out now, I recall there were some nasty chemicals involved. Also, we students had to design the board, assemble all the components on it and produce a working device.

If we wanted a passing grade . . .

Wink

2speed HP41CX,int2XMEM+ZEN, HPIL+DEVEL, HPIL+X/IO, I/R, 82143, 82163, 82162 -25,35,45,55,65,67,70,80
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02-18-2016, 08:15 PM
Post: #5
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
Thanks all for the replies.

I've checked all your suggestions. PCBway is interesting to me as it allows you to select the shipping method, and Hongkong Post is among them. I've found that, for unknown reasons, items coming thru HK post to my country many times arrive without custom taxes.

Also, both Elecrow and PCBway offer some solder colours different from green with no price increment.

The PCB is being designed now, so I'll order it some weeks from now. Thus, Chris, if it is not a nuisance, I'll ask you in a few days about the quality of the PCBs you´ll receive from PCBway.

Tasp, I made many PCBs at house when studying. Used HCl and, yes, it is a nasty chemical!

Thanks & regards.

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02-19-2016, 08:45 AM
Post: #6
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
I have great experience with elecrow:
http://www.elecrow.com/services-c-73.html

They are cheap, the PCBs have a very good quality, and they are fast (though shipping from china takes a while). I ordered 6 or 7 times there, and the worst that happened was the silkscreen was off by a millimeter - after sending an email i instantly got new boards for free, which was much more than i hoped for. Great service!
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02-19-2016, 06:30 PM
Post: #7
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
(02-18-2016 08:15 PM)emece67 Wrote:  The PCB is being designed now, so I'll order it some weeks from now. Thus, Chris, if it is not a nuisance, I'll ask you in a few days about the quality of the PCBs you´ll receive from PCBway.

Because of the Chinese new year (they got up to 2 weeks of holidays), my order was only placed on production earlier this week, and they mentioned a substantial backlog. And my boards (NP41S) were not yet done. It would be another 3/4 weeks as I chose HK Post.

DHL is no longer an option for me as they will add clearing fees and tax (on behalf of me) if the value is over CAN$20. Before the recent Canadian dollar depreciation, my orders from Elecrow is always under CAN$20. Now it's always a bit over and DHL changes $20+ on top of the shipping cost. So now I would rather wait.

Definitely I will evaluate on PCBWays quantity w/ a reply here. Their web site is a bit difficult to navigate and they are also very responsive on my email questions, etc.

I had hundreds of boards done by Elecrow, but anything over 10x10cm costs too much. That's the only reason I am trying PCBWays.
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03-10-2016, 06:45 PM
Post: #8
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
My boards from PCBWay arrived. They had shipped in from Hong Kong. Elecrow ships from China (and I recall sometimes from Singapore). PCBWay is quicker. They shipped my boards on Feb 22nd and I received them March 9th. So it's a little bit more than 2 weeks. It could be a fluke though, need more shipments to confirm.

To my eyes the are about the same quality. And my design usually is mostly simplistic and not at a very detail level. These boards do have very thin traces. I am comparing the NP41S boards. The old version is made by Elecrow and the new ones are from PCBWay.

The only difference I can find is that PCBWay plated the pads w/ more solder. It actually helped me on SMD soldering as I usually try to not apply solder when I tact the MCU corners. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing in general terms.

The reason I had used PCBWay is that for size larger than 10 x 10cm, they offer a flexible rate, and in my case I had save about $20 for a batch of 5 boards. Their shipping may cost a bit more and they charge $2 for paypal transaction.

Details on the SMD pads.
   

Overall PCBs.
   
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03-11-2016, 11:25 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2016 11:26 PM by emece67.)
Post: #9
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
Thanks a lot Chris for your feedback. Definitely PCBway seems the most interesting for me.

Thanks again & regards.

César - Information must flow.
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05-02-2016, 11:48 AM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2016 04:36 PM by emece67.)
Post: #10
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
Hi again.

7~8 weeks later I have finished the design of this PCB. It is a 2 layer 120*96 mm with 8 mil/8 mil/0.3 mm rules. Yesterday, I sent it to PCBway and today it has passed their tests, so it is now scheduled for fabrication. I'll report when it arrives to me.

The total cost for 10 units is 50 USD, shipping included to Spain. I think it is a bargain at $5 each PCB!

The project is an RPN calculator built around a low power ATMEL SAM4LS chip (ARM Cortex-M4 based) running at 12 MHz (48 MHz when powered from USB), with 512 kB Flash and 32 kB RAM. Powered by a single CR2032 cell, USB & serial (plus JTAG) connectors, support for IR printing (both "vintage" HP and IrDA, although I do not plan to populate the IrDA for now), real time clock (I hope) and a buzzer. A graphical b&w, 128x64 display with soft menus and 55 keys (two shifts) in landscape format (allowing the alpha keys to be QWERTY arranged).

This is the key arrangement:
[Image: attachment.php?aid=3516]

And this is a size comparison with some well know RPN machines:
   

I do not have a single line of software yet, so do not expect it working in the near future.


Attached File(s) Thumbnail(s)
   

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05-02-2016, 01:03 PM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2016 03:17 PM by Hlib.)
Post: #11
RE: Need advice on PCB manufacturer for DIY project
The design of Your calculator is terrible. Show the sketch of your device to us. It must be beautiful and desirable. It can be you will take Steve's sketch for a standard? A display must be 80х120 (at least) or 160х240 for modern calcs. Steve Jobs should be living... :-(
[Image: ce96b468ab0c.jpg]
EDIT: It is not my idea for the calc
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