Advice on Having AVR Made for Generator

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by elec_mech, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. elec_mech

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
    Hi All,

    I work for a frequency converter company. One of our product lines is a 50/60Hz input, 400Hz output, 3-phase frequency converter. We've been outsourcing the automatic voltage regulator (AVR) to another company for over a decade now. Unfortunately, said company has increased the price by 25% in six months and added a minimum quantity that we're unlikely to go through in two years. They seem to take forever to fill orders and I suspect this is their way of giving us the boot.

    Ultimately, we'd like to find another company that can do this. Quantities would be 10 to 25 a year (more likely the former). I've spent an enormous five minutes looking on Google, but I'm unsure how to find a company to do this.

    I've got some ideas on solving this dilemna that I'd like to get your adivce on:
    1) Find another company to do the whole thing including design, PCB fabriation, programming, assembly and production either from scratch or have them reverse engineer an existing unit.
    2) Reverse engineer a schematic and make an identical board with ExpressPCB myself. This may save time and development costs with another company, but would still require someone to program the uC.

    While I love electronics and have done some programming, doing this entirely in house is a bit beyond my abilities, especially in a timely fashion. Making a copy of the PCB might not be too hard, soldering parts on certainly isn't difficult for me. Not sure if it is worth the effort though.

    In the end, the boards, complete with an aluminum heatsink (read: block of aluminum, not something with fins) and conformal coating, would need to cost under $400 apiece, more if possible.

    Any suggestions for a company or individual that could do this?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. elec_mech

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
    Well, I spoke with our supplier and apparently the driving force behind the cost hike is their outsourcing costs, specifically having a simple aluminum heat sink made and conformal coating. The minimum quantity stems from the best price they can cut us, otherwise the price goes up significantly for smaller quantities.

    I'm still looking for a better compromise including making the heat sinks ourselves and possibly conformal coating ourselves, albeit only as a last resort. Potentially they could make the boards in a decent quantity, send them to us untested, then we could add the heat sink and perform or hire out the conformal coating.

    I understand the supplier's position, but we don't really have over ten grand to tie up in inventory for two years.

    Any thoughts? Anyone who's tried to save money on a custom-made PCB that is programmed and tested by a supplier in small quantities?

    Thanks in advance.