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Having PCB's made

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Carl Wilson 419/03/2017 20:35:28
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522 forum posts
48 photos

Hello,

I was wondering if someone could point me in the direction of a company or individual who could make some PCBs for me.

The type of service I'm looking for is that I would send them the circuit diagram and they would send me the PCB. I know I could sit down and learn to use PCB CAD software etc but I don't have the time.

So if there is a small company out there, or even an enthusiastic individual who can make me 10 or so PCBs from a circuit diagram then I'm interested in finding out how much it would cost.

To clarify, it is just the bare PCBs I need. I will populate them myself.

Thanks in advance,

Carl.

John Haine19/03/2017 22:27:36
1501 forum posts
89 photos

There are loads of places that make pcbs quickly and cheaply, mainly through China. I think mainly you will need to do the layout though, if you pay someone to do it it will cost quite a lot more. Given that you'll need to draw a schematic anyway, there are packages such as this that help you do the schematic capture, then do the layout automatically, and no doubt link to prototype manufacturing services.

clivel20/03/2017 06:50:52
232 forum posts
10 photos

Once you have a board designed, then give PCBShopper a try, it is a really useful website for getting quotes on PCB manufacturing. Simply enter the board parameters and a few seconds later you are presented with a list of quotations (including shipping) from manufacturers around the world.

That of course still leaves you with having to have the board designed. Unfortunately this is likely to be far more expensive than the actual cost of manufacturing the board. If you don't have the time to to learn a PCB package yourself then the cheapest route may be to find an electrical engineering student at a local university or college.

Clive

Edited By clivel on 20/03/2017 06:51:41

Carl Wilson 420/03/2017 07:04:33
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522 forum posts
48 photos
Thanks for all the help and suggestions.
Andrew Johnston20/03/2017 09:32:28
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3398 forum posts
407 photos

For commercial PCB layout expect to pay around £1.50p per pin.

It's a fantasy to assume you can send off a schematic and get a working PCB back. The PCB needs at least a basic specification, including:

Number of layers and stackup if required

Power plane allocation

Mechanical constraints - PCB size, position and size of mounting holes

Component location - especially for things like connectors

General signal flow - you don't want a thermocouple amplifier right next to a SMPS

Track width and gap - no point in having a 2A power supply coming out on an 8 thou track

Critical tracks such as high frequency lines, or high impedance which may require guarding

Any creepage and clearance requirements

And anything else!

None of the above is difficult, but needs doing or disaster results. As a warning, a company we have been working with commissioned a university to design a small optical particle counter for air quality measurement. The technician drew up the schematics and sent them off to a company for PCB layout and manufacture. When the boards came back they didn't do anything, except oscillate. Why? No decoupling capacitors on the high frequency opamps, doooh! They weren't on the schematic, as it was "obvious" you'd need them, but the PCB layout person didn't know anything about electronics and so didn't add them. Much money and time wasted.

Much has changed in the commercial world of PCB layout over the years, with many designs now being done in-house rather than farmed out. The PCB is as much a part of the circuit as the schematic and needs to be designed accordingly. I now do all my own PCB layout, unless the client dictates otherwise. That way I get what I want and can take into account all the mechanical and electrical constraints. Generally the boards work first time, which they often didn't in the good old, bad old, days of farming out the layout.

Good luck in finding someone to do the layout.

Andrew


Bodger Brian20/03/2017 10:20:15
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89 forum posts
16 photos

Carl...

PCB design is what I do for a living. Depending on the complexity of the design & it's intended use, I should be able to take your circuit design (even if it's a 'back of an envelope type', create a proper schematic & then lay out the PCB and create suitable (electronic) artworks.

I'm afraid I can't help with the actual manufacture of the PCB. My employer only uses manufacturers who deal with account customers and would in any case probably be unwilling to deal with such a small quantity that you're looking at. The link that Clive supplied is a good starting point for you. Alternatively, I know there are a number of people on this forum who make their own PCBs, so that might be another option.

I fully concur with Andrew with regard to what need to be considered but if you choose someone who knows what to ask & can give you guidance on what is required, it shouldn't be a problem.
(Incidentally, the one thing I disagree with in Andrew's post is the change from farmed out design to in-house design. We've been attempting to recruit a PCB designer and the vast majority of applicants have been made redundant because their previous employers have decided to use sub-contractors rather than continue to design in-house)

PM me if you want to discuss this futher.

Brian

Carl Wilson 420/03/2017 22:23:50
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522 forum posts
48 photos
First of all, many thanks to you Brian for offering to help me. I'm definitely going to take you up on your kind offer. I shall pm you in due course.

I don't think it is fantasy to give someone a circuit diagram and end up with a pcb in the slightest. The circuit design is an adc with an RS232 output. A parallel Adc output is made serial and then converted to RS232 format by a few flip flops and shift registers, with a 555 timer as the clock.

I could build this on vero board and I would were it not for the fact that I want 10 units the same.
norman valentine20/03/2017 22:33:54
161 forum posts
25 photos

Making a PCB is not so difficult. I had to do it 20 years ago as a uni project. Just do it yourself!

Martin 10020/03/2017 23:21:22
160 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by norman valentine on 20/03/2017 22:33:54:

Making a PCB is not so difficult. I had to do it 20 years ago as a uni project. Just do it yourself!

No it isn't difficult (many double sided boards with soldered top to bottom links and gold plating for edge connectors were done entirely in our lab) , but it's one hell of a lot easier to fire off the files and get them made in bulk for next to nothing in the far east. The through hole plating, solder masks and silk screens are a bonus. That's not to say you can't get them made here but the last time I did so was in the early 1990's and the manufacturing contact was through a colleague so I've no recollection of what they were called nor if they still exist. PCB design in the early 1980's was taped film, then manually on a BBC Model B and then later with some degree of autorouting on an IBM PC.

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