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Cheap PCB Prototypes

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This may have been an earlier thread, but I couldn't find it - anyone have a place that makes prototype boards for cheap, either multiple boards that can be cut or single boards?

I've been using Advanced Circuits, they have a 4 for $33 deal, but I'm looking for cheaper. They also tack on a $50 surcharge if you put more than one circuit on there...

Thanks!
 

creakndale

New Member
In late 2007, I did an extensive internet search for the least expensive PCB fabrication facility for 2 layer prototype board with plated thru holes/vias, soldermask and silkscreen.

Advanced Circuits offered the best bang for the buck. All the fab houses require a certain minimum purchase. In 2007, Advanced Circuits offered a 3 for $33 but now the best deal appears to be the 4 for $33 special you mentioned (I see they throw in a 5th board for free). I gave them a try and was very pleased with their PCB Artist software, customer service and the finished product exceeded my expectations.

I wish there was a less expensive alternative for 1 or 2 boards, as well.

creakndale
 
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DirtyLude

Well-Known Member
I don't quite get the Advanced Circuits offer. So, you have to get 4 boards, for $33 each and they throw in a 5th for free. So that's $132 for 5 boards. No panalization allowed. That means if you have 5 1" square boards, that's it for you. That sounds kinda crappy, if I'm reading it right.

You can try BatchPCB for small one offs, but it does get expensive for larger items. Or Gold Phoenix. Gold Phoenix is 1 155" board for $99, but you have to panalize yourself and if you have multiple projects on the board, it's an extra fee ($30 for two layer multi panel).
 

Speakerguy

Active Member
I don't quite get the Advanced Circuits offer. So, you have to get 4 boards, for $33 each and they throw in a 5th for free. So that's $132 for 5 boards. No panalization allowed. That means if you have 5 1" square boards, that's it for you. That sounds kinda crappy, if I'm reading it right.
You can pay $50 for panelization, and you get 60 sq in per board. So that would be 60 1x1" x 5 boards = 300 boards for ~180 w/ silk screen and soldermask. At least least I think it works like that.
 
Those look like some pretty good leads - the only other one I saw is E-Teknet:
PCB Promotion

Anyone used E-Teknet before? You can order 4 for $24 each with 35sqin, or 140sqin total, but they won't v-score like Gold Phoenix - so it looks like these Phoenix has the best deal for my board.

-- > Never mind about E-Teknet, you can only put one circuit on each board - I e-mailed them and asked.
 
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RadioRon

Well-Known Member
Cheapest I've used so far is pcbcart.com. Quality is good, and they are delivered on time. Very good pricing.
 

smanches

New Member
The one thing I like about Advanced Circuits is they don't outsource. All the boards are made in the USA.
 

Speakerguy

Active Member
Advanced Circuits is definitely a 'known quantity'. High quality, but if these other places are good then the price starts to be hard to justify. They didn't even send me popcorn on my last order.
 

pkshima

Member
Amazing that you have to pay >$100 just to stay away from harmful chemicals !
shipping and the wait extra.
But of course the final looks probably make it worth because matching those at home is next to impossible I guess.
 

Speakerguy

Active Member
These are with soldermask, silk screen, etc.

If you just want tin plated copper on FR4 you can use Advanced Circuits BareBones PCB. It is quite inexpensive, you can get three or four average sized double layer boards with no silkscreen or soldermask for $60. The price per board drops dramatically with increasing number of boards (if 3 boards are $60, four might be $64, five might be $66, etc).

2-layer, FR-4, 0.062" thick
• All-holes-plated
• 6-mil line/gap minimum
• Tin finish over 1-oz Copper
• No internal routing or scoring
(including mouse bites)
• Cut to rectangle shape only • No mask
• No legend
• Min size 1.25" x 1.25"
• Max size 12" x 16" or 192 sq. in.
• Gerber 274X preferred (274D ok)
• Excellon drill (English Units)
• Minimum hole size 0.015
 
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DirtyLude

Well-Known Member
That's not bad. Really, the only reason I have to send boards out, rather than do it myself is for the via's. Via's on a home etched board are such a pain. Well, that and if I want something that looks fancy.
 

Speakerguy

Active Member
That BareBones service is also done overnight. If you pay for overnight shipping you have a two-day turnaround time. We used that service a lot at one of my previous employers even though we had a PCB mill. It was cheaper than paying a tech to babysit the mill for half a day.
 
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I hear what you're saying about Advanced Circuits - I have used them pretty consistently, but their prices have gone up twice since I started. Definitely good quality though.

pcbcart.com also looks like they have some pretty good pricing. Thanks for all the input - I don't think I would have found all these places on my own.
 
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