Tag Archives: BatchPCB

Cheap Prototype PCBs from DorkbotPDX

Three 2-layer  boards, $5/sq inch.  No setup fee!

Laen of DorkbotPDX has been running a PCB proto service for some time now, and I finally got a chance to try it out this month.

The pricing is simple.  For 2-layer boards, it’s $5 per square inch for three (3) PCBs, with no setup charge, and shipping is free.

The tunaround time is typically 9 days + first class mail shipping, which ends up being just under two weeks total fom PCB release to delivery in Austin.  This is pretty good for a group order, and signficantly faster than BatchPCB (based on my experience).

The only downsides that I am aware of are:

  • PCB orders only go out once a month, unless there is enough demand to justify a 2nd run.
  • If you wait too long, the panels can fill up.  Again, if there is enough demand, sometimes a 2nd panel can be added, but don’t count on it.
  • The soldermask and silkscreen can be any color (and you don’t get to choose!)  BatchPCB at least guarantees the standard white/green.

4-layer boards are available as well, but at a higher cost ($10/square inch) and less frequent intervals.

Entries for the next PCB order are due on October 25th.  The more orders Laen gets, the more likely he is to continue the service, so if you have some designs you’ve been thinking about but have been put off by expensive PCB costs, finish them up and get some boards made!

Poll: Who is your favorite prototype PCB vendor?

As I wait for my AVR High Voltage Programmer Shield PCBs to come back from BatchPCB, I’m starting to wonder what prototype PCB services other people are using for their boards.

Ladyada has a PCB Cost Comparison Calculator that shows the significant differences in price between various low volume PCB vendors, but what’s missing from the chart is the answer to: What vendors are people actually using?

If the cheapest fab house is also the best, obviously the more expensive vendors wouldn’t be around, would they?  Unfortunately, it’s usually not that simple, cheap usually means slow, or low quality, or both.

I know that some visitors to this site make prototype PCBs at home and others send them out to be fabricated.  How do you get your prototype boards made?  Vote below.

[poll id=”2″]

AVR HV Programmer Shield in the Works!

AVR HV Programmer Shield PCB Layout

What’s this???

In response to the continued demand for a PCB version of my Arduino-based AVR High Voltage Programmer, I just released a first cut to BatchPCB and should have a prototype within 3-4 weeks.

This design is an improvement upon the original HV programmer shield in the following areas:

  • Onboard 12V boost converter eliminates the need for an external 12V power supply
  • Support for two of the most common families of AVR microcontrollers, the ATmega48/88/168 and ATtiny2313
  • Separate Ready and Burn indicators
  • Protection resistors on every single data, control, and supply line to the target AVR, meaning that your Arduino and AVR should survive any mishaps during programming, including inserting the AVR backwards or off by 1 pin.

I hope to have kits for sale in early February.  Sorry for the delay in getting these made, but I wanted to make the best possible shield I could!