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Seeking recommendations for PCB fab houses

Home Forums Miscellaneous Seeking recommendations for PCB fab houses

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    • #16652
      SGFulton
      Participant

      Hello! We want to make a small run (~10 boards) of a PCB board we’re using in a dissolved oxygen autochamber. I am new to the world of PCB manufacturing and working with Eagle so I’m barely familiar with the terminology, file requirements (e.g., Gerber files), etc. Thus please excuse my ignorance. I currently have a BRD and SCH file in Eagle (my colleague generated the files), and I’m pretty certain I need to make CAD gerber files for the PCB manufacturers. If anyone has had a good experience with fab houses, could you let me know who they are? which ones you’ve worked with? I’m hoping a good fab house would have excellent customer support, be willing to walk me through the file submittal requirements and process, be relatively inexpensive, and located in the US (I work for a national lab and I’ve been told DOE would likely prefer not to work with a Chinese company; no offense intended). We only need to make 10 boards for now, so I know that might make a difference to manufacturers. I’ve looked at OSH Park, and they currently have what appears to be a pretty good deal going for “Four Layer Boards” (https://docs.oshpark.com/services/), i.e., $2 per square inch, 100 square inch minimum, but it says they “Must be in multiple of 3” (which I don’t think I want, plus I’m not even sure how many layers I have?). I’ve googled video tutorials on how to make Gerber files, but I’d also appreciate any advice folks might provide since I a total newbie to Eagle and pcb manufacturing.

      Thanks much!
      Stephanie

    • #16654
      neilh20
      Participant

      Well I’m working with some engineering students at 9am PST (10min) on how to modify Kicad files. A bit short notice but you could join in then if interested.

    • #16656
      neilh20
      Participant

      I’ve been building electronic circuits since high school. In case its of any use, I’m now using Kicad 6.0 https://www.kicad.org/blog/ and it has been excellent for reasonable human place able surface mount geometries of 0402 and larger. There is an evolving library of component footprints . Any non-standard footprint are possibly where the real challenge is with any circuit – matching the cu footprint to the component.

      I have put up a basic Wingboard in Kicad as a starting point for a student project – https://github.com/neilh10/mayfly-esd-rev01

      I prototype with oshpark and build my own boards as the first proto  – oshpark has sophisticated help for Kicad and Eagle  https://docs.oshpark.com/

      The expensive and high risk part can be  building a few test prototype boards to check the circuits. There are tutorials on youtube and sparkfun for prototyping – absolutely amazing.  Start small and build bigger has been my moto.

      I’ve built a set of RS485 wingboards with https://macrofab.com/demo/ – I liked it for the new online parts/BOM management and checking for parts availability in realtime. The output to Macrofab is https://github.com/EnviroDIY/Mayfly-Modbus-Wing/tree/master/knh002-MayflyWingShield/rev7

      Of course a board assembled by a fabrication house is just the raw components “cooked” or soldered to make one board. It then needs testing to verify its working as expected.

      As an EE I have been doing PCBs for over 15years with EasyPc (from numberone.com), and tried to pick up on Eagle 6 for some open source hardware, but the GUI was so specific that it didn’t really work for me. Just my experience, it does have a strong following so other people where more persistence than me have fun with it.

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