Doing business with makepcb.com

June 17, 2009

in Tinkering

Trying a new board house is always an adventure. Of course I use BatchPCB for small scale prototyping. But for an upcoming project I needed some higher quantity of boards for a cheaper price. So some ‘real’ board house must be found. There are so many options, that I do not try to list all those different services. I choose MakePCB to fabricate my PCB:

The results were good, but not without some odd details. Read on after the break.

There was also one review on the AVR Freaks Forum, which made me quite confident, so I gave them a try. As you can see from the picture above: The PCB quality is good. I have not seen any production errors, and optical inspection lead to general satisfaction. It was not been tested yet. But I am not expecting much problems.

Ordering

Ordering from BatchPCB is a bit odd. You create an account, enter all your PCB details on the web page, upload your design, add your shipping cost and pay (Paypal only – which is fine for me). After some minutes you get an order confirmation. That’s it. Easy and direct.

Processing

There is no status for your order or any information about the processing. I had some question if everything was OK. My gerber viewer showed very odd drill positions, but I processed everything strictly after their description. After some days I got an email back: They have not heard of any problems. A confirmation that everything is OK would have sounded a bit different.

The processing took a very long time. Even though I wrote several emails to get a status I got back only some vague answers. But after about 6 weeks the boards arrived safe and sound at my door step. The packaging was excellent, yet economic: A small package with vacuum sealed bubble wrap (never seen this before), directly from China.

Bottom Line

I will do some final testings with the boards (e.g. assemble them). If everything goes right and no serious amount of unwanted shorts show up I will order my production run through them. They are really cheap – to be more specific the cheapest I found. I could even afford to get some extras (like white solder mask – perhaps next time I will take black ones – much easier to photograph properly).

But you have to be patient. They do not seem to be the quickest and their service is (from my perspective) not up to date (especially if you are used to the great service of BatchPCB). But if you compare this to the price – it is worth it.

I am quite happy until now. If you got any additional or different experience, leave a comment.

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