Last Monday afternoon, I ordered a couple circuit boards to be fabricated from Elecrow, with DHL shipping from Shenzhen (as opposed to Hong Kong). Those boards arrived today, one week later. My previous order was even faster, so this doesn't appear to be a fluke (ordered Sunday, arrived Thursday). Elecrow is providing exceptional service!
One change I've noticed is elimination of the delay between sending email that the boards are finished and the time the boards actually get in motion. The boards were shipped on Saturday and when I received the email yesterday telling me they had shipped, the boards were already is Los Angeles en route to Seattle. I'm glad the frustration of waiting for the boards to actually ship after receiving notice that they have been finished has been eliminated.
I ordered one lot of ten boards of less then 50mm x 50mm with a stencil for $25.90; another lot of ten less then 50mm x 50mm for $9.90 and about $8 of headers and terminal blocks. Shipping on this order was $25.69; it's based on weight and the stencil adds a lot to the order.
Here's a photo of what the box looked like when I opened it. Everything was well packed and protected by bubble wrap.
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And here's a picture of what I received.
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The larger board was vacuum sealed. The smaller one is just in a ziplock bag - there seems to be a limit of what they can seal.
Here's a picture of the two boards with a pen for size reference. The smaller board is 1.3" x 0.8".
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The larger board is for my smart phone buffer amp. The IC package is an SOIC-8 and the resistors and capacitors are 0805. The one item I was slightly concerned with was the notch under the headphone jack - it came out exactly as desired.
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The smaller board has a TSSOP package and an SOT23-8. Both of these have a pitch of 0.65mm between the pins. These packages wouldn't be my first choice but these were the largest size the chips I needed came in. From previous experience, I can't use my solder paste dispenser on this fine pitch, but with a stencil and hot air, assembly isn't too difficult. The header pins are on 0.1" spacing for size reference.
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And finally, the stencil. Elecrow charges $16 to make a stainless steel stencil. I've paid far more to have a stencil laser-cut from Kapton film. The metal stencil will be much easier to work with and far more durable. It looks well made.
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I have been extremely satisfied with the boards I've ordered from Elecrow and recently, shipping has been especially quick. Definitely recommended,
I'm interested!!! And almost ready to take the plunge!!! The problem I have right now is getting comfortable with a board authoring software. You use Eagle Jon? What flavor? It's expensive for me, but I'm at the point where I need this stage of my development to be set in stone and working for me.
My next day off, Wednesday, I plan to watch quite a few EEVBLOG videos on this subject. I need to be informed, and NEED these boards made for me. I have no problem prototyping with a universal board, but building on these for end-use in my house is taking WAY TOO MUCH TIME!!! Plus, I really want to use SMD devices. Resistors, caps, transistors, diodes, even IC's. It seems that working with solder paste and a heat gun is child's play compared to my failures with schematic and board software.
I need inside information!!! HELP!
Printed Circuit Boards From Elecrow
3 years 7 months ago #17590
I do use Eagle - the pro version a version or two back - upgrading to the current version costs a lot and it doesn't work well on my high res lapton screen.
The free version lets you make boards up to 80mm x 100mm (the board can be any size, but placing components is limited to rhat area).
Whatever your background, Eagle will be a bit of a learning curve. I put on a training session at one of the local hackerspaces. Many people in attendance had tried Eagle and given up in frustration in the past, but in 2 two-hour sessions, everybody had the hang of it. What seems difficult at first gets pretty simple with a little practice. I'll post a link to Powerpoints of the presentation tonight.
Diptrace looks decent, as does Kicad. Beware the programs offered by board fabricators - you usually can't get the required Gerber files without paying a large charge if at all.
Several of the parts suppliers are offering programs too. The ones i looked at offered very limited ability to create your own layouts (they allowed a few but not many) because you'll always end up using components not in their database, or required you to share your files with everybody. I do share some of my boards...once they are proven and cleaned up, but not everyrhing!
And I agree. Right out of the gate with two board suppliers, with their software, I ran into that issue with a component not available. I have to say that PCBWEB was better than most of these mistakes, as it was tied into the Digikey database. A LOT more components, and a price available in the build list. But, sure enough, ran into something not available.
Maybe Eagle Free is my option. When SMD is used, the real estate that 80cm x 100cm provides is a lot more spacious than looking at through-hole components. I am not looking at anything as complex as multilayer boards, except for maybe 2 sides. Is two sided supported with the free version? Is there a limit to components used?
Sorry to ask. I'll just go look.
I have an issue getting libraries for Eagle. I did find a nice one that supports my whole Pro Mini board, but when a component does not seem to be available, I'm a little lost at where to find the proper LBR file, or collection of such.
I'm sure I'll have a few more questions as I plow through the learning curve towards my first boards, and hopefully you are patient and willing to abet whatever I discover.
Thanks again Jon. Geez! I wonder what a search for "Thanks Jon" would turn up for hits. lol. I'm humbly grateful!
Printed Circuit Boards From Elecrow
3 years 7 months ago #17593
Creating your own patterns in Eagle isn't too difficult and it's a necessary skill. I've seen people spending all kinds of time asking for some pattern when they could of made their own in a few minutes.