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Recommendations for low volume PCB fabrications

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I've gotten into building headphone amps recently starting with a CMoy for its simplicity and cheapness. I am pleased with my CMoy and I have managed to add a variable bass boost circuit to it and organize it a bit better than I had originally. In spite of all of this, I want better :) I saw the article about the PPA v2 amplifier on Tangent's site and aimed for this to be my ultimate project. Unfortunately this project requires 2 PCBs to be custom fabbed and it seemed that the cheapest I could get this on ExpressPCB was around $150 (2 boards of different designs not 2 of the same one [batt board and amp board]) this didnt seem right....The main cost to me seemed that it should be the IC components...not the board itself.

 

So to get to the point of this post if anyone has experience with custom PCBs and knows where I can get single boards cheaply please let me know (I would preferably want a fab that could turn it around in less than a month)

post #2 of 19
http://oshpark.com/
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsavitsk View Post

http://oshpark.com/

thank you for this although this turns out to be just about as much as ExpressPCB (the board is EuroCard size so about 24 sqIn 24 * 5 = $120) Even if the shipping is a bit more than a week or two it would be ok....It just seems that PCBs are insanely expensive.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

I wouldn't imagine that very complex boards could be fabbed from home...could they? If I were to say...redesign the PPA v2 (from the schematic in some software to organize it for me) into a 2 layer layout could this be etched from home?

post #5 of 19

 

Actually, you can make pretty complex boards if you have the skill...

 

Check these threads:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/516489/very-easy-toner-transfer

http://www.head-fi.org/t/517138/very-easy-photo-etching-method

 

Google is your friend...

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by backspace119 View Post
thank you for this although this turns out to be just about as much as ExpressPCB (the board is EuroCard size so about 24 sqIn 24 * 5 = $120) Even if the shipping is a bit more than a week or two it would be ok....It just seems that PCBs are insanely expensive.

 


The whole key to a PCB's cost is mass production.  Typically, you will pay as much for 1 - 10 PCB's as you will for 100.  It's why there used to be Group Buys years ago: get enough people interested/signed-on and you could order 100-200 or even more.  Then the price per PCB can be very cheap, maybe just a few dollars for a complex, good size PCB.

 

Unfortunately, that part of the hobby died a few years ago.  These days, most people are interested in full kits with a custom case, much less a simple PCB that would require the work of purchasing their own material through a Bill Of Materials.  Some still do that (thankfully), but there's not enough to support group buys for the PCB's alone in most cases.

post #7 of 19
PCBs can be obtained for far lower prices than any shown here.

The 2 best sources I have discovered are seeedstudio.com and iteadstudio.com.

Taking for example seeed studio, 10 off 10*10cm boards cost U$24.90 plus shipping. If you cut the boards up yourself you can panelize them. They do offers down to 5*5cm in quantities of 5. The prices are shown in an odd system, where larger boards are stated as e.g. +15 dollars, this is because their base price was U$9.90, so when figuring out your pricing you have to add this in, don't worry though, you can always see the final price when you go to check out a completed order.

Seeed studio do free post for orders over $50, so I usually wait until I can order 2 lots of 10 off 10*10cm boards, total cost $49.80, and add a small item(solar panel) to push the price over $50. $2.50 per for 4in square boards is pretty good, especially if you can get a few people interested in a group buy. It costs me more to post a board from the UK to the US.

Boards take ~10 days delivery to the UK.

Itead studio are pretty much the same I believe, but all my experience has been with seeed.

w
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avro_Arrow View Post
 

 

 

Google is your friend...

 

yes I am normally quite the googler (I learned to program from google ;) ) but unfortunately recently I haven't really known what I've been looking for from time to time so I apologize for the rather noobish/stupid questions and I applaud your patience with me. 


Edited by backspace119 - 2/4/14 at 6:05am
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


The whole key to a PCB's cost is mass production.  Typically, you will pay as much for 1 - 10 PCB's as you will for 100.  It's why there used to be Group Buys years ago: get enough people interested/signed-on and you could order 100-200 or even more.  Then the price per PCB can be very cheap, maybe just a few dollars for a complex, good size PCB.

 

There was one link I got here that only offered boards in multiplicities of 3....I might pull some friends together and see if we could split it 3 ways...that might make it doable

 

Quote:
 Unfortunately, that part of the hobby died a few years ago.  These days, most people are interested in full kits with a custom case, much less a simple PCB that would require the work of purchasing their own material through a Bill Of Materials.  Some still do that (thankfully), but there's not enough to support group buys for the PCB's alone in most cases.

This saddens me....I wish I was here when they still did that as I really enjoy putting these things together I'm just very broke.

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakibaki View Post

PCBs can be obtained for far lower prices than any shown here.

The 2 best sources I have discovered are seeedstudio.com and iteadstudio.com.

Taking for example seeed studio, 10 off 10*10cm boards cost U$24.90 plus shipping. If you cut the boards up yourself you can panelize them. They do offers down to 5*5cm in quantities of 5. The prices are shown in an odd system, where larger boards are stated as e.g. +15 dollars, this is because their base price was U$9.90, so when figuring out your pricing you have to add this in, don't worry though, you can always see the final price when you go to check out a completed order.

Seeed studio do free post for orders over $50, so I usually wait until I can order 2 lots of 10 off 10*10cm boards, total cost $49.80, and add a small item(solar panel) to push the price over $50. $2.50 per for 4in square boards is pretty good, especially if you can get a few people interested in a group buy. It costs me more to post a board from the UK to the US.

Boards take ~10 days delivery to the UK.

Itead studio are pretty much the same I believe, but all my experience has been with seeed.

w

Are you saying I can combine little boards to make a large one? because the size I need is EuroCard size (24 in sq)

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


Unfortunately, that part of the hobby died a few years ago.  These days, most people are interested in full kits with a custom case, much less a simple PCB that would require the work of purchasing their own material through a Bill Of Materials.  Some still do that (thankfully), but there's not enough to support group buys for the PCB's alone in most cases.

This is a shame...My best amps are all from group buys. It is sad to see it end... Making my own boards does give a deeper sense of satisfaction.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by backspace119 View Post

Are you saying I can combine little boards to make a large one? because the size I need is EuroCard size (24 in sq)

Are we talking 24 inches square or 24 square inches? The largest size available from these people is 30*30cm or 12 inches square (144 square inches). It's an unusual project that requires a 2 foot square board. You could try contacting them direct...

See here:- http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurocard_(printed_circuit_board) for a basic explanation of eurocard dimensions.

w
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

oh so the measurements ive been looking at are inches square? I thought it was square inches....because according to this:(not going to link because I dont have perms yet but here: tangentsoft dot net/audio/ppa/amp2/) it is about 4*6 inches so 24 sq inches but I guess that it would use a 6 inches square board to fit the entire thing....right?

post #14 of 19

Let's cut to the chase. If you download the files for the PPAv2, you can easily shave off 1cm from the top (or from the bottom if you wire the pots offboard). Then, you can order from the links given by wakibaki. For example at Itead Studio, 5 pieces of the same 10x15cm pcb are only 45$ + shipping. 9$ a piece thus and you can easily find other diyers to share some of the costs I guess. Seed has similar pricing. The PPA is all through hole and is a piece of cake to manufacture, so there shouldn't be any problems.

 

What is problematic is that the PPAv2 files are in expresspcb proprietary format and iirc the program doesn't allow you to export gerbers to order from another place. So you'll have either to redraw the board in eagle or find a way to convert the files.

post #15 of 19

Cross-posted with 00940

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by backspace119 View Post
 

oh so the measurements ive been looking at are inches square? I thought it was square inches....because according to this:(not going to link because I dont have perms yet but here: tangentsoft dot net/audio/ppa/amp2/) it is about 4*6 inches so 24 sq inches but I guess that it would use a 6 inches square board to fit the entire thing....right?

 

Yes, but assuming you can fit into a few thousandths of an inch smaller (100mm = 3.937in), then you can get 5 off 10*15cm (1.6mm, green, HASL) for U$45.90 + postage. Someone(s) will almost certainly take the spares off you at cost+postage+handling.

 

Later:-

 

I looked at Tangent's layout, it'll easily fit into 10*15cm, but ATM it's in ExpressPCB format, you need to get it into gerber format, then you can do minor modifications in GCPrevue, move the mounting holes in a bit, draw a 10*15 board edge. Here's a link to software which claims to convert ExpressPCB 2 gerber:- http://www.robotroom.com/CopperConnection/Converting-Express-PCB-Files.html

 

w


Edited by wakibaki - 2/4/14 at 10:13am
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