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Old 07-30-2015, 11:17 PM   #1
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Default Anyone here know about getting circuit boards printed?

I've been fooling around with arduinos, breadboards, protoboards, etc and I've done a few simple projects, which has revealed to me that nothing I've made is really suitable for sticking behind the firewall or even on the dashboard. I've been thinking about moving on to proper printed boards, nice packaging and stuff like that.

I see about a billion choices for EDA tools and quite a few choices for people willing to manufacture in small lots based on designs. I'd probably stick with atmel stuff because I'm ******* lazy, though I don't imagine this matters at all for doing board design.

Does anyone have any suggestions for good software tools, good output formats and good small quantity manufacturers.
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:13 AM   #2
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I don't know much of the details, but we use Osh Park for our FSAE custom PCB's. https://oshpark.com/
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Old 07-31-2015, 12:16 AM   #3
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Eagle free and whatever sunstone's (pcbexpress) free tool is are decent options. The sunstone tool will have the output file formats built in for submission to their online quote tool. When I was ordering boards I used efab quite a bit. Eagle has a strong opensource community.

They are really all pretty much the same for the tech level you will need most likely.
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Old 07-31-2015, 07:02 AM   #4
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Do you already have your own schematic and layout software?

If not, I've had good experiences with ExpressPCB

They require you to use their proprietary schematic and layout software, which is not compatible with any generic layout tools so far as I know, so you're kind of locked in to using their fab service once done. That said, their tools, while lacking certain features, are extremely simple to use, and their service, for small orders, is both fast and cheap.
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Old 07-31-2015, 09:18 AM   #5
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<p>The green board was drawn in WinQcad and produced by Silver Circuits.&nbsp; (The blue board on top is a completely different story)</p><p><img src="http://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.miataturbo.net-vbulletin/2000x1124/80-145893d1438344962_anyone_here_know_about_getting_c ircuit_boards_printed_20150105_104023_0ce67dd3a6ba 296eaeb59535f7dfbe17762c4d76.jpg" title="" /><br /><br />&nbsp;</p>
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Old 07-31-2015, 09:25 AM   #6
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I used Eagle to design a small PCB. Trying to find the printer...

edit: thumbs down. I can find references in email to the file creation, but i cant find who i ordered it from. I remember it being decent priced.

Last edited by Braineack; 07-31-2015 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Do you already have your own schematic and layout software?

If not, I've had good experiences with ExpressPCB

They require you to use their proprietary schematic and layout software, which is not compatible with any generic layout tools so far as I know, so you're kind of locked in to using their fab service once done. That said, their tools, while lacking certain features, are extremely simple to use, and their service, for small orders, is both fast and cheap.
No, I'm not using any software yet. Since a lot of the software is vendor specific, I wanted to learn from the experiences of others here before I took the trouble to learn a particular package.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:55 AM   #8
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I dont think you can wrong with Eagle. Plus, it is free, albeit with a limitation on board size.

I looked into doing some DIY etching. There are a few ways to do it, the easiest is to buy boards with a photosensitive coating on them. You draw your circuit and print it out with a laser printer on a transparency, lay it on the board and stick it in the sun. Afterwards you can wash away the copper, leaving behind your traces.

I still think it looks like fun. Not sure if it makes much sense if youre just trying to get **** done.
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Old 07-31-2015, 11:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysBroken View Post
No, I'm not using any software yet. Since a lot of the software is vendor specific, I wanted to learn from the experiences of others here before I took the trouble to learn a particular package.
I've used ExpressPCB for a number of different small projects over the years. I'd never consider them for anything that I might eventually want to scale-up into a larger product, as the files you create with them are forever locked into their system. But for those situations when I just need to create a couple of PCBs cheaply and quickly, they've been excellent.

Product choices vary from two-sided bare to four-layer with soldermask and silkscreen, and the quality has always been good.

One nice thing about their software package, frankly, is that it's simple. It lacks a lot of features that you find in higher-level stuff (like autorouting), but it very easy to learn and use.
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Old 07-31-2015, 11:20 AM   #10
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<p>by far the best (cheapest) place to get circuit board produced for low volume runs...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>https://www.seeedstudio.com/service/index.php?r=pcb</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Last edited by cyotani; 07-31-2015 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:06 PM   #11
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Ive used OSHPark and Sunstone. OSHPark is easier to use and cheaper for small runs.
You can use this tool to compare the major online suppliers:
PCB Shopper A Price Comparison Site for PCBs
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:31 PM   #12
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Sweet, thanks guys.
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Old 08-02-2015, 10:23 PM   #13
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I am spoiled with altium at work but OSH park has been great to deal with. Customer service is great. I had a 10 x 20 in panel that killed their online tool. They processed it manually and provided some feedback for changes. Whole thing was less than $500 and about two weeks for 3 boards.

That's 600 sq in of board. Small boards are like $15 for 3.
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Old 08-03-2015, 08:50 PM   #14
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Just checked out OSH park, $10/sq inch on a 4 layer with 5/5/10 isn't bad.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:32 AM   #15
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<p>I use OSH park too. Good stuff.</p>
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Old 08-04-2015, 09:41 AM   #16
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Using Eagle is like being tortured. After years of using Eclipse for software development, using software that looks like it was written in the early 90s and costs thousands of dollars is a rude awakening.

I'm trying KiCad next.

I'm not objecting to the appearance of Eagle, but to the usability. And yeah, I realize that the basic version of Eagle is free.
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Old 08-04-2015, 02:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysBroken View Post
Using Eagle is like being tortured. After years of using Eclipse for software development, using software that looks like it was written in the early 90s and costs thousands of dollars is a rude awakening.
You should see Cadence's Allegro PCB software whose UI hasn't changed since the 90s. It is user-angrier than a nest of hornets and costs many thousands. You can't possibly be an occasional user and be reasonably proficient. I can't understand why so many companies use it.

In contrast the other day I downloaded "Room EQ Wizard", learned it, figured out how to connect a mic, measured my room audio with the sub in 3 different positions, and tuned my subwoofer amp's DSP in 5 hours, without every cracking open the manual. It's free software written by one guy. I was so happy I donated to his paypal account.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:42 PM   #18
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Any CAD software is difficult to use/understand, I guess it's the nature of the beast. Have you tried using Autocad or Solidworks?

Eagle in particular uses the QT framework, which of course looks different than a native Windows/Mac, but is by no means a '90s app. Using the QT framework means the same is available for all major platforms (win/mac/linux).
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Old 08-04-2015, 07:27 PM   #19
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Solidworks is the easiest **** I've ever used in my life, I had the unfortunate experience of using solidedge for a pretty large assembly... till I figured out how to open solidedge parts in solidworks. More software should use UI like solidworks, I would be a happy man.

I've halfway trained myself on eagle using online tutorials, but the workflow isn't quite the same as feature/sketch based solid modeling where there's twenty ways to get what you want, although half can bite you in the bass...

My advice is forgo pcbexpress and go with eagle and oshpark, if it's something you enjoy doing the time you spend won't be wasted. Far as I can tell the UI hasn't changed in ever.

First and last time I had boards printed I bounced around a bunch of software till I discovered I was wasting more time than I was saving just learning eagle.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverant View Post
Any CAD software is difficult to use/understand, I guess it's the nature of the beast. Have you tried using Autocad or Solidworks?
I can't speak to Solidworks (never done any 3d work at all), however I don't recall having any difficulty picking up 2d AudoCAD back in 1999 when I started working at Harris, and it's become a part of my everyday routine. As I remember, I took a 1 day training course and then learned the rest myself. I'm so addicted to the command-line shortcuts and the precision of AutoCAD that I get extremely annoyed whenever I have to work with a drawing that someone else has created in a "simple" program like Visio.

Heck, before I move into a new apartment I first sketch it in AutoCAD and use that model to arrange my furniture. Saves a lot of time and sweat.
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