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(Topic ID: 267156)

PCB Fabrication Sources?


By Gornkleschnitzer

5 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 15 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 months ago by russdx
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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    #1 5 months ago

    Looking to have some custom PCBs printed for my homebrew project. I've been doing some research on board houses, and although I've found a fair number of them, I thought it appropriate to ask Pinside before I look into it further.

    Seems like a lot of the services are either up front about being very expensive [Edit: I mentioned OSH Park here, but may be wrong about its expensiveness], or don't display any pricing information at all. Different board houses also have different minimum order requirements, so I would like to design my boards to make the most of the quantity I'm required to order. This also means that a number/arrangement of boards that is a good deal at one PCB fab might not be a good deal at another. I would love to do an all-in-one playfield lamp/driver board like CGC but I'm sure this would be cost prohibitive for a likely one-off game.

    Any recommendations? These would be very simple boards (2-layer, through hole, I would do my own assembly), although several would be irregular shapes.

    #2 5 months ago

    MacroFab. You can get just one from them, and they have real good quality. Only had an issue with them once, and they quickly resolved it and sent me new boards. They *CAN DO* assembly, as well, in case you just are too lazy (like me).

    Though honestly, OSHPark is NOT expensive. As long as you like purple? They're one of the better-priced manufacturers out there. Except for the fact you have to buy three.

    #3 5 months ago

    Interesting, I will check them out.

    So OSHPark lists $5/square inch, 3 copies. Does that mean you get those three copies for that price? If so, that's a bit more reasonable, and my design already accounts for three of several boards. I assumed you got one copy for that price, which would have made it cheaper for me to buy and install individual 44/47 LEDs and sockets rather than putting them on a board.

    #4 5 months ago

    As far as I recall (I can be wrong now, as it's been a while since I've used OSHPark) it's be $15 for three - since you're getting 3 boards.
    And again, that's not a bad price. PCBs are NOT cheap, unless you get them in bulk.

    #5 5 months ago

    I suppose I should remind myself that this is my alternative to using premade boards like P-Roc - which, if I understand the pricing correctly, would cost me over $700 in boards and accessories to do the whole game...?

    Edit: Will take a closer look at OSHPark. This is what they say about price:
    "$5 per square inch, per set of 3"

    I take this to mean if I were to send them a 1x3" board, they would charge $15 for three of them.

    #6 5 months ago

    I guess it depends on what your end-goal is. Usually in pricing a board, you should also take your time spent into it. I'm not an expert by far, but I've done a lot of my own personal projects. Usually if there's an alternative that does what I need, I won't waste my time trying to make something similar. If there's a lack of an alternative, I will work on my own. (For example, one of my projects I'm playing with is for the P-Roc system, to hook up to one of the RGB LED driver boards, that will allow an RGB flasher. I've been looking and hadn't seen anything capable to do that yet.)

    #7 5 months ago

    That is true. However, I am a stubborn idiot with a bad case of Not Invented Here Syndrome, and I take great pleasure in designing my own systems that do exactly what I want. If I can get the hardware for a good price, I consider the satisfaction to be ample payment for my time spent on it.

    Thanks for the tips, I'll see what I can do!

    #8 5 months ago
    Quoted from Gornkleschnitzer:

    So OSHPark lists $5/square inch, 3 copies. Does that mean you get those three copies for that price?

    Yes. 3 copies for $5/square inch.
    I have nothing but glowing reviews for OSHPark. PCBs are top notch. They are fast-ish... and inexpensive.
    The only place "cheaper" is overseas... like SeeedStudio. There they might be cheaper... because you get 10 boards/copies for the price. But they aren't nearly as high quality. And the overseas shipping is really disappointing unless you pay for much more. The other thing Seeed does is allow you to specify the soldermask and silkscreen color. They also do Aluminum PCBs for high power led applications.

    Usually; I do all my prototyping with OSH... then look for a volume PCB assembler/tester to do products for Pinball-Mods.com.

    For my
    Star_Trek Mirror universe boards; prototyping was done for the smaller boards at OSHPark. Then I used SeeedStudio for the "volume" boards because I wanted White PCBs to reflect my LEDs. I also did SeedStudio for the final NIXIE display because again; I could get Black PCBs.

    #9 5 months ago

    A lot of folks in the pinball homebrew space have had good results with PCBWay. Good pricing and very fast.

    https://www.pcbway.com/

    #10 5 months ago

    Always use macrofab for pcba prototypes never had any issues, they will always contact you if a component does not appear to fit right before populating.

    Can’t use for production as way to expensive that has to be done by China.

    #11 5 months ago

    I use OshPark all of the time, as others have stated, the (purple) quality is fantastic, $5.00 / inch for 3 PCBs. Typically takes ~2 weeks from order to delivery to the east coast using snail mail. Only downside is if your PCB is large then it starts to get very expensive. And if you use surface mount components, OshStecils will make that for you within a few days too.

    If the PCB is more than 5 square inches I'll typically use PCBWay. Have fabricated 15+ PCBs with them, all excellent quality - and you can choose solder mask colors which is great. They also will assemble your (surface mount) PCB for a fee and that process has also worked well. Typically takes 4~5 weeks from order to delivery to the east coast unless you want to pay $30 or more in expedite shipping fees. The 5x5x5 RGB LEDCube from my Avatar was fabricated by them.

    I have also used JLCPCB three times for very large PCBs and found their quality and service to be acceptable too. Similar shipping times as PCBWay and a little more cost effective for very large PCBs.

    Lastly have used DirtyPCB once and that was fine also.

    3 weeks later
    #12 5 months ago
    Quoted from Coyote:

    MacroFab. You can get just one from them, and they have real good quality. Only had an issue with them once, and they quickly resolved it and sent me new boards. They *CAN DO* assembly, as well, in case you just are too lazy (like me).
    Though honestly, OSHPark is NOT expensive. As long as you like purple? They're one of the better-priced manufacturers out there. Except for the fact you have to buy three.

    Modifying my answer, since apparently I wasn't aware..

    No more on Macrofab. They terminated their small-quantity prototyping. Sadly, now, you're ordering a full panel, so prices are in the upper $600's as of this writing.

    Really saddened by this move, will need to check other recommendations here for small, populated boards.

    #13 5 months ago

    I used to use a local company known as "Big Frog". Strange name but made good boards.
    Unfortunately, they could no longer compete with the cheap Chinese boards and is now gone.

    One of the biggest expenses they had was etchant recycling and waste disposal. No big deal in China, they just dump it in the local river.

    #14 5 months ago
    Quoted from G-P-E:

    I used to use a local company known as "Big Frog". Strange name but made good boards.
    Unfortunately, they could no longer compete with the cheap Chinese boards and is now gone.
    One of the biggest expenses they had was etchant recycling and waste disposal. No big deal in China, they just dump it in the local river.

    What? They don't WASTE it like that. It goes in Chinese baby formula.

    #15 5 months ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    What? They don't WASTE it like that. It goes in Chinese baby formula.

    Lol yeah no way it gets chucked 100% ends up in some other product they sell us.

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