Friday, July 1, 2011

Cheap But Excellent Batch PCB Fabrication

I was reading a recent blog post on Life of Kenneth and saw a reference to DorkbotPDX batch PCB fabrication named Laen has been coordinating for some years now. It's know nown as:

The printed circuit boards are made in the USA, the costs are $5/sq in with no setup fee for two-layer PCB designs. Four layer boards run more but still quite affordable. You order PCBs in sets of three. And the soldermask is a nice, custom purple! ooooo....!

Image from DorkbotPDX pcb fabrication ordering site
I've been using DorkbotPDX now OSHpark for a year or so now and have done probably a dozen printed circuit board layouts. Every one has come back with excellent quality. The silk screening is very detailed, the plating is fantastic, the soldermask are always right on. That's what you get when it's made in the USA. 

My Toshiba Camera Breakout PCB

And you get fast turnaround (in the US), usually within a couple weeks. He's now doing so much volume that he's sending 2 or more boards per week to the PCB fabrication company.

Home DIY PCB Fabrication top, DorkbotPDX bottom
Laen reports a very low error rate of about 1 in 10,000. Can't say enough good things about this service and I often prefer to wait a few weeks and just have the board fabricated than etching my own single-layer PCB at home.
MiniProp: Propeller breakout. QFP 0.6mm pitch
I've now gotten heavily into SMT designs. I've done PCBs with 0.5mm pitch QFP chips, 0603's, tiny 0.032" lettering (0.4" is better), SOICs, 12mil traces, etc. All the boards come back beautifully.

ARM LPC2103 breakout PCB. QFP 0.5mm pitch
Ultra-Micro Lost Model Alarms

SMT version of AVRcam. QFP 0.6mm pitch


  1. I have used them and I love the boards. The were very high quality and had gold plated pads. They were also purple, need I say more :)

  2. Thanks for the heads up!
    I am going to try the service as well. It seems really promising.


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