Having cheap PCB’s made part 2.

A while ago i made a popular post about having cheap PCB’s made. Some things have changed so it’s time for a new post.

BatchPCB is now OSH Park.

EuroCircuits have broadened their range of services to better cater to prototype runs and hobbyists.

Seeedstudio have a PCB prototype service.

Where there are lots of suppliers and customers shopping for the best price, sooner or later someone is going to set up a price comparison site like : PCBShopper.

The most interesting manufacturer for me is now DirtyPCBsĀ (from the people behind Dangerous Prototypes who made the Bus Pirate), my last 3 batches were ordered there.

The first batch was a new run of the LivingColors Arduino shield.

New batch of LivingColors Arduino shields.
New batch of LivingColors Arduino shields.

The second batch was a breakout board for the NiceRF SX1276 LoRa module. Here i experimented a little with contour routing.

SX1276 module breakout board.
SX1276 module breakout board.

The third batch was an adapter board to use no-name CC2500 modules in boards designed for the Quasar QFM-TRX1-24G. The boards are small (about 20 mm x 25 mm) and the minimal size for dirtypcbs PCB’s is 100 mm x 100 mm. Here I experimented with breakout panels, putting 4 PCB’s in one design.

Adapter boards
Adapter boards

The end result worked out nicely, two things I’d do better now are :

  • Position the “mouse bites” differently so the rough edges won’t protrude, see this post.
  • Copy and fixate the silkscreen text to a new layer before copying and rotating the sub-PCB’s. If you look closely at the PCB’s you’ll see that the text didn’t rotate with the rotated copies of the traces. That’s what you want for a big PCB but not for a breakout PCB. There is a ULP for that and a nice tutorial.