PCBs

7 December 2010

After making my own PCBs for several projects and finding the process sufficient for small runs and prototyping, I’ve decided its time to make the leap to professional manufacturing.   The first design I sent off was a carbon copy of the Electric Window 4 single-sided PCB that I’ve been home etching:

This was a fairly simple process of generating gerber files for the bottom layer, the drill file, and cleaning up the top silkscreen (label) layer:

Since this design is bigger than Eagle CAD’s freeware limitation of 4″ x 3″, I used FreePCB which has its pros and cons in comparison to Eagle, subject to another article here sometime . . .

The size of this design also put it beyond the 4″ x 4″ prototyping service at Seeed Studio which I’d been wanting to try, so after a recommendation from the folks at Kwartzlab, I went “local” with Priority Circuits in Kitchener.  I was happy to find a domestic solution for PCB fabrication.  The prices were reasonable, and their service was responsive.

Although the above board is for Electric Window 4 fixtures, having a bunch made has led to collaborating with Deb on some new pieces — with custom graphic inserts animated by the LEDs — for CUBE Gallery’s Great Big Smalls show this December; pics coming soon . . .

After getting comfortable with the process of preparing a design for manufacture, it was on to the two-sided DOTKLOK design, the size being well within the “confines” of the freeware Eagle CAD version and Seeed Studio’s prototyping service.  Although several more layers needed to be generated — top and bottom copper layers, silkscreen layer, drill file, and solder mask — Seeed Studio provides a CAM job for Eagle that takes care of all this for you, making it quite painless to transform this:

into this:

The price and speed of the service was great, and I’m happy to have a set of working boards after my first attempt:

Just in time for an upcoming workshop with Cybersonica that I will be facilitating via Skype from Ottawa, where the first batch of DOTKLOKs will be made :)

Full kits will be ready soon!

Resource-wise, Sparkfun has a great series of tutorials on working with Eagle files, and as always, Adafruit has a ton of invaluable info.

Comments (1) | Tags: , , , , | More: Blog

One Response to “PCBs”

  1. tracey wong says:

    We are a pcb manufacture,wish for the cooperation.

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