small run boards ... how and where ?

Thread Starter

xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
169
A client of mine asked me if I wanted to start supplying a small control box. They use about 10 a year. The guy who made them in the past retired (or died ... they can't seem to track him down). I do a few jobs for them each year ... build small industrial panels for them (a couple relays and contactor) ... patch cords ... pendents (just buttons, a cord and connector) .... all the small jobs no one want but I am happy to do.

I did a job like this 15 or 20 years ago for them. I think I use a company online called PCB123 ... drew it right online ... that made the Gerber files so I didn't need and special software (I have Autocad here). Boards were done in a few days .... cheap and easy. I have an old Hakko iron ... a nights work and we were good to go.01.JPG02.JPG

Where do you guys get this type of work done now? Any good companies I should look at? Is it even done the same way ... draw it online and order it?

Attached is a picture of the board. I obviously also have the schematics.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated !

Background ... so, I am a 61 year old machinist who dabbles in electronics (I even still have a tube tester to keep some old radios I have going).

I have a good understanding electricity. I ended up working for an instrumentation group for a few years .... I have over the years built countless industrial control panels. Most are simple starter panels with basic interlock controls. Most of my clients want simple relay logic that they can fix themselves out in the field. My most complicated panel used a PLC, touch panel and cellular modem. I am able to control 12 pumps remotely and have it report flows via and e-mail each night.

My wife is disabled (paralyzed from the shoulders downs as the result of a diving accident when she was 12) so I work out of the house. This lets me do her care while making a living. I work on anything from toys to tractors.

Thanks!
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
28,511
I like PCBWAY because of the price, and the most options when it comes to shipping.
BTW, the example board in the OP, does it have to be that large? Appears under-populated for its size?
 

Thread Starter

xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
169
Thanks!

Sorry, I should have said that I was planning to populate the boards myself. I have a good Hakko iron and some pretty good soldering skills.

Not sure why the design of the board ... it fits into a small plastic enclosure with a few other parts (LED's ... a switch ... pressure sensor ...). They just want me to duplicate what is there.

Thanks!
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
984
I recommend using EasyEDA software, provided free from JLCPCB. It truly is easy to use and has a huge parts library.

JLCPCB does a great job on printed circuit boards, and 10 boards of up to 100mm × 100mm are $5 (2 layer). Larger boards cost a bit more.

JLC also offers an extremely cheap assembly service, mostly aimed at surface mount components.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
8,661
FYI JLCPCB is in China, for 10 boards, shipping will cost more than your boards. But it is still far cheaper than any US based house. I use them also, takes about 2 weeks form ordering to receiving.
 

Thread Starter

xtal_01

Joined May 1, 2016
169
FYI JLCPCB is in China, for 10 boards, shipping will cost more than your boards. But it is still far cheaper than any US based house. I use them also, takes about 2 weeks form ordering to receiving.
Good to know! I will have to leave myself enough lead time.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
28,511
Sorry, I should have said that I was planning to populate the boards myself. .
Not sure why the design of the board ... it fits into a small plastic enclosure with a few other parts (LED's ... a switch ... pressure sensor ...). They just want me to duplicate what is there.
Just that it should make quite a difference to the price if it were sufficiently down-sized! ;)
Most of mine are within the 100mm x 100mm range so 50c each for 10 !
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,495
I'll put in a good word for ALLPCB (again in China) and KiCad.
All the most up-to-date pcb manufacturing machinery is now in China. I've had pcbs from Allpcb in a week, and it took two days to clear customs at Stansted.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
28,511
@xtal_01 I have tried several of the PCB manuf, incl those of China origin, the latter of which I found just about the same quality in all, in the end it just came down to shipping rate combined with speed of delivery.
 

Boggart

Joined Jan 31, 2022
82
Definitely JLCPCB for small runs, been using them for years, they turn small runs around in a day or so and quality is always good, and you get a choice of six or seven PCB colours. Low cost and fast, just make sure you select the lower cost regular mail shipping as it defaults to DHL or some similar expensive courier.
 
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