For quite a while I’ve been just using protoboards, or trying toner transfer to make pcbs, with limited success.
A hackaday article (Why are you still making PCB’s?) turned me on to low cost, prototyping pcb runs. Cutting my own boards via toner transfer had lots of drawbacks:
- I’d botch my transfer (as seen above), and have to clean the board and start over again. Chemicals are no fun either.
- Drilling is tedious.
- I never really got to the point where I’d say it was easy to do a one-sided board.
- I would always route one-sided boards, as I never got good enough to want to try a 2 layer board.
- There was no solder mask layer, so You’d get oxidation, and have to be very careful while soldering.
- Adding silkscreen was just not worth the effort.
I seemed to remember trying to find small run services like this a while ago, but coming up short. I might be coming late to the party of small-run pcb fabs, but I was excited to find services like OSHpark are out there. They’ll cut you three 2-layer pcbs with all the fixins’ for $5/square inch! This is a much nicer board and probably at a cheaper cost than I am able to do myself.
Here’s the same board design (rerouted for 2layer) as the botched one above:
You can upload an Eagle BRD file directly, or submit the normal gerber files. Once uploaded, you can easily share the project on OSHpark. (this project’s download). You have to wait 12 days for the boards, but if I’m being honest with myself, this is a quicker turnaround time than my basement-fab could do! I’m sure I’ll be cutting my own boards way less in the future.