PCB Board Houses for Hobbyists

Posted on Posted in Electronics

Back in high school I etched my own PCBs with copper clad board and Ferric Choloride acid. It was messy but it did the job. Nowadays it just isn’t worth making your own PCBs when you can get professionally made one for such a cheap price with silkscreen, solder mask and plated through holes which are difficult to do at home. There aren’t a ton pf PCB houses that cater to hobbyists but here are a few places I have used:

Batch PCB:

www.BatchPCB.com

Pricing:

$10 setup fee (shown as a handling charge) – $2.50 per square inch for 2 layer designs, $8.00/sq. in. for 4 layer designs.

Limits:

  • 2 or 4 layer boards – 0.062″ FR4 material
  • 2 Layer sizing:
    • 8mil (~0.2 mm) spacing minimum
    • 8mil (~0.2 mm) traces minimum
    • 20mil (~0.5 mm) minimum drill size
  • 4 Layer sizing:
    • 6mil (~0.15 mm) spacing minimum
    • 6mil (~0.15 mm) traces minimum
    • 13mil (~0.33 mm) minimum drill size
    • No blind/buried vias
  • 500mil (~12.7 mm) maximum drill size
  • All drill hits are plated through
  • No internal routes, no v-scoring, only drill files are sent to the fab house
  • Board is routed to the indicated border (very clean edges, you can get creative with the shape as well!)
  • Soldermask both sides
  • 1oz Copper
  • No limit on the number of vias
  • No limit on pads or components
  • Multiple designs, multiple copies are allowed!
  • Any size up to 10×15″, measured in inch increments (254mm x 381mm)
  • Minimum billable size 1×1″ (smaller boards are allowed but rounded up)
  • Your design can be any size – 1 inch is the minimum

Comments:

The pricing is very reasonable for small runs of boards and from my experience it would take about 3 weeks to get the boards I ordered. You can now pay extra to have your order expedited, I have not used this service but it would be helpful if you can’t wait 3 weeks to get your boards. I was very happy with the boards I have received from them plus they usually over deliver and you get twice the amount of boards you order at no extra cost. Here are a few of my boards I have had them manufacture.

IdeadStudio

www.IteadStudio.com

Pricing:

Green 2 Layer 5 cm x 5 cm, 10 Pcs starting at $9.90
Green 2 Layer 5 cm x 10 cm, 10 Pcs starting at $18.90
Green 2 Layer 10 cm x 10 cm, 10 Pcs starting at $24.90

Add $10 for different coloured solder mask

Limits:

  • Multi Layers: 1-2
  • PCB Material: FR-4
  • Minimum Qty: 10
  • Maximum Size: 50mm X 50mm
  • Board Thickness: 1.6mm
  • Thickness Tolerance (t≥0.8mm): ± 10%
  • Thickness Tolerance (t<0.8mm): ± 10%
  • Insulation Layer Thickness: 0.075mm–5.00mm
  • Minimum Line: 6mil (Recommend >8mil)
  • Minimum Space: 6mil (Recommend >8mil)
  • Out Layer Copper Thickness: 1oz(35um)
  • Inner Layer Copper Thickness: 17um—100um
  • Drilling Hole (Mechanical): 0.3mm—6.35mm
  • Finish Hole (Mechanical): 0.3mm—6.30mm
  • Diameter Tolerance (Mechanical): 0.08mm
  • Registration (Mechanical): 0.09mm
  • Aspect Ratio: 8:1
  • Solder Mask Type: Photosensitive ink
  • SMT min Solder Mask Width: 0.1mm
  • Min Solder Mask Clearance: 0.1mm
  • Plug Hole Diameter: 0.25—0.60mm
  • Surface Finish: HASL

Comments:

IteadStudio’s pricing blows Batch PCBs Pricing out of the water where you can get 10 PCBs 5 cm x 5 cm for $9.90 at that price there is no reason anyone should make their own PCBs anymore. I just ordered some PCBs from Itead, the process was smooth and the PCBs arrived in 2 weeks which is great and a week faster than BatchPCB. I havent noticed any flaws in the PCBs from Itead though they were a very simple design. If there is any con I can find with Itead it is that I like the shade of green solder mask that BatchPCB used better but for the price I can look past that. Here are some pictures of the board I had Itead manufacture.