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DroneBot Workshop
(@dronebot-workshop)
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2020-09-30 12:08 pm  

Hi all

I'm planning a few projects that are going to require printed circuit boards as I doubt many people will want to wire up perfboards for them (although I always make a perfboard version before designing a PCB , so that I can get the parts placement correct).

Having a YouTube channel in the electronics field I've been consistently bombarded by requests from PCB manufacturers to do a sponsored video in exchange for money and free PCBs. Not that there's anything special about my channel, everyone who has a channel in this niche gets theses requests!  And that's actually part of the problem in determining who is really the best, as pretty well every "review" you see is a sponsored one.

So I wanted to know if any of you had any recommendations?

Here is what I want:

  • Good quality and reasonable price (of course)
  • The ability to make 4-layer PCBs
  • A service to populate those PCBs, especially with surface-mount components

 

As most of these outfits are in China I'd also like to know about the shipping. Bonus points if you're in Canada, as shipping to here may be different than it is to the US.

And BTW, I have no intention of doing a sponsored video for any of these manufacturers, I just want to know which one you folks have found to be the best.

Thanks!

😎

Bill

 

This topic was modified 3 weeks ago by DroneBot Workshop

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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MadMisha
(@madmisha)
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2020-09-30 1:36 pm  

I have used JLCPCB in the past and had a really good experience. Quick turnaround, cheap and their website worked great. They can do up to 6 layer I believe. They can assemble too but I have never used that service. Their site says $2 but I don't know how that works. Shipping was more expensive than the 10 boards I ordered but wasn't that bad. I just checked and it was $8.08 to ship to US ($17 for faster). It appears to be $16.56 to Canada.

 

I have also heard good stories about Seeed Studios. More expensive but done in North America.

Edit: I think I may have been wrong on that last thing. I might have been thinking of something else. I will update if I remember it.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by MadMisha

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byron
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2020-09-30 1:57 pm  

@dronebot-workshop

Recently I found a PCB manufacturer where one can design a board in EasyEDA cad, within which you can also choose parts from a suppliers catalogue, and order both the parts and PCB from JLCPCB.  You can also specify that they mount the components too.  I think this mounting is for both through hole and the small surface mount components.   I thought this would be great for an easy life. 😎.   

I can't really comment on comparisons between different PCB for all these services as I've only ordered a few simple boards that were designed in kicad from PCBway and JLCPCB where I done all the soldering myself.   The last order was from JLCPCB, and was during the pandemic, but I did note the delivery could be very high if using a courier, much less so for normal post.  Even the normal post was about £5 from memory and took about a month.  No free post anymore.

There are probably many more that provide this sort of 'complete' service as I did not do much research.  I look forward to this sort of project in one or your articles and see what you come up with.  

 


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DroneBot Workshop
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2020-09-30 2:46 pm  
Posted by: @madmisha

I have used JLCPCB in the past and had a really good experience

Interesting, they were actually the first people to approach me about doing a video and they still keep trying (I admire their persistence)!

Posted by: @byron

Recently I found a PCB manufacturer where one can design a board in EasyEDA cad, within which you can also choose parts from a suppliers catalogue, and order both the parts and PCB from JLCPCB

Yes, I was looking at EasyEDA myself. They actually work with JCLPCB, for the boards, and LCSC for the parts.

I really like the fact that you can also post your final designs on their website (this is me thinking about getting more free publicity for DBWS and a possible backlink to my site LOL).

Posted by: @byron

I can't really comment on comparisons between different PCB for all these services as I've only ordered a few simple boards that were designed in kicad from PCBway and JLCPCB where I done all the soldering myself.

So no difference in the quality, price, or delivery time (pandemic excluded of course).?  They are probably the two most well-known services.

Thanks for your input, both of you!

😎

Bill

 

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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ZoolanderMicro
(@zoolandermicro)
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Posts: 15
2020-09-30 5:47 pm  

My PCB designs have been very simple, two sided boards. I have been struggling with Eagle CAD design software. It really is a quirky beast. I will try EasyEAD to see if it makes things easier for me. I have been submitting my prototypes to Aisler. They make it easy for the hobbyist like me. I just upload the board file without having to run a CAM job. Aisler is associated with Fritzing Fab. I think they are based in Germany, but use a manufacturer in Texas for US customers. 

ZoolanderMicro, where small ideas are a big deal


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codecage
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2020-09-30 6:22 pm  

@dronebot-workshop

I've used PCBWay, only once, and JCLPCB, multiple times, but used Kicad for all my design work. I've been well pleased with both PCB companies and Kicad.

SteveG


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DroneBot Workshop
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2020-09-30 7:15 pm  
Posted by: @zoolandermicro

I have been submitting my prototypes to Aisler.

Just looked at their website, hadn't actually heard of them before this. Thanks!

Posted by: @codecage

I've used PCBWay, only once, and JCLPCB, multiple times, but used Kicad for all my design work. I've been well pleased with both PCB companies and Kicad.

Thanks Steve!

That also opens up another question, which CAD program to focus on?

I had always intended to use KiCAD and may indeed still do that, as it seems to be popular among hobbyists, and as I want to (eventually) do an article & video about making PCBs it makes sense to choose something that is popular.

I had totally forgotten about EasyEDA until @byron mentioned it, I actually had already made an account there years ago but never did anything with it.  I just downloaded and installed their desktop application a few minutes ago.

From what I've read most users say that KiCAD is more powerful but EasyEDA is easier to use.  But, of course, EasyEDA has the advantage of the direct connection to JCLPCB and LCSC, although you could certainly use those services with KiCAD as well, all they need I believe is a Gerber file and a BOM file.

So while I'm comparing PCB manufacturers I may as well also compare CAD applications too!

😎

Bill

 

 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by DroneBot Workshop

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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codecage
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2020-09-30 7:50 pm  

@dronebot-workshop

I actually have used PCBWAY multiple times and JCLPCB only one.  Not sure how I got that backwards.

But Kicad is well worth the learning curve.  I had never done any PCB design before using Kicad so have nothing to compare it to, but while not an expert by any means I have become comfortable with it.  I did invest in Peter Dalmaris' book "KICAD LIKE A PRO 2nd Edition."  That was more than worth the expense.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by codecage

SteveG


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byron
(@byron)
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2020-09-30 8:44 pm  

@codecage

I use Kicad actually through using the book you recommended to me way back when, which certainly got me up and running.  But probably because I used it quite sporadically I'm still RTFM whenever I do a new design.   A few months back I downloaded EasyEDA to see if I liked it, and I did find it a lot easier to use, though I have barely got into it.

One thing I did notice was that in its component libraries it had a whole bunch of user contributed stuff (a separate section) and I could find whole boards, like an Adafruit feather huzzah etc, to use as components, making it easy to incorporate these into a larger PCB design.  

A design for a PCB I started (currently on a back burner) was to incorporate an Adafruit MCP9808 temperature sensor board with an OLED screen on a board to a PCB.  There was not much to it, but I found both these components in the library and I was impressed on the easy with which I got an initial schematic and PCB design completed.   All these sorts of user libraries are probably also to be found on Kicad, but it was very easy to stumble accross them with EasyEDA

Add to this the easy of which you can choose your components from the LCSC library and even order a pcb together with the components from the EasyEDA program I think I'm being swayed to switch.   But as I say, early days, and I need much more practice to before I could make a recommendation to @dronebot-workshop . As you are more competent Kicad man than me, it may be worth a quick look at EasyEDA to see what you think.  I only had a play with it one afternoon and certainly had something up and running a heck of a lot quicker than my early forays into Kicad.


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DroneBot Workshop
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2020-09-30 9:43 pm  
Posted by: @codecage

I did invest in Peter Dalmaris' book "KICAD LIKE A PRO 2nd Edition."  That was more than worth the expense.

Good suggestion, Peter is a great author. 

Posted by: @byron

All these sorts of user libraries are probably also to be found on Kicad, but it was very easy to stumble accross them with EasyEDA

The reviews I have read seem to agree with you, apparently EasyEDA is much easier to add components to than KiCAD.

Posted by: @byron

Add to this the easy of which you can choose your components from the LCSC library and even order a pcb together with the components from the EasyEDA program I think I'm being swayed to switch.

I'd love to "shrink down" some of my projects by using surface-mount components, but I'd want someone else to assemble them as I don't have the skill to do that myself. So being able to order something with the parts already mounted is a real bonus.

Ralph S Bacon (who has some great electronics videos BTW) did a video on using both, and the description links to some other tutorial videos.

And this article on Medium briefly compares the two and then introduced a free tool that the author created to convert from EasyEDA to KiCAD.

I'm sure either of them would be a fine choice.

😎

Bill

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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codecage
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2020-09-30 9:56 pm  

@dronebot-workshop and @byron,

I'm going to give EasyEDA a try.  I did have difficulty finding certain components in Kicad, so I might enjoy being able to more easily find user supplied components.

As I said, I used Kicad on my first foray into PCB design, so have no other experience with the other tools.

SteveG


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DroneBot Workshop
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2020-09-30 10:53 pm  
Posted by: @madmisha

I have also heard good stories about Seeed Studios. More expensive but done in North America.

Edit: I think I may have been wrong on that last thing. I might have been thinking of something else. I will update if I remember it.

Until you posted this (and then crossed it out LOL) I was not aware that Seeed Studio made PCBs.  But I don't see anything about them being made in North America, although their FAQ is a bit hard to read as it's a mixture of English & Chinese.

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


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