Free PCB Sunday with a survey question

We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. Our PCBs are made through Seeed Studio’s Fusion board service.

Please note: this week we’re doing something different. We’re thinking about stocking up the PCB drawer and selling PCBs too. If PCB coupons were for sale, how much would you want to pay for a PCB? Should we include worldwide shipping in the price?

This week two random commenters who answer these questions will get a free PCB code. We’ll pick the winners Monday morning. Thanks for participating in our ‘market research’, it will help us gauge if this is a feasible idea.

You get unlimited free PCBs now – finish one and we’ll send you another!

Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:

  • Tweet-a-PCB Tuesday. Follow us and get boards in 144 characters or less
  • Facebook PCB Friday. Free PCBs while you wait for the weekend
  • Free PCB Sunday, right here on the blog

Get your own handy Bus Pirate for $30, including world-wide shipping. Also available from our friendly distributors.

Are you interested in blogging with us? Drop us a line. This probably won’t be a paid position, but you get a back stage pass, free PCBs, and free projects. US and international bloggers are welcome.

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • Be sure to use a real e-mail in the address field so we can contact you with the coupon.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB Sunday posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see the post first is to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Join the Conversation

94 Comments

  1. The price should really depend on the board size.
    But since the number of coupons already is dependent on the PCB size… $2-$4, perhaps?

    Might be cool to stock complete kits, BTW.
    PCBs + all the needed components. Think that would have a lot of fans :)

  2. I think the board prices would be 5 for one or 10 for two sounds good to me. Lots of us want to build the items even if the cost would be more than we could buy a complete one for :)

  3. PCB with errors – Super cheap , a buck each ? – practice/prove your ability

    PCB that functions with errors – 5$ shipped (assuming its small) I can order a working error free one I make for about this

    PCB free of errors – Now you pay a slight fee for the design process. 10$ shipped.

    Giant pcb free of errors (the scope for instance) – Case by case basis.

    I would sooner buy a kit with parts because the work in this is in getting the parts to make the thing. Im still waiting to get mine for my ir toy. I would pay a slight premium for this.

    Disregard me for the free pcb, I just wanted to flap my jaw about the feedback requested. And I have a board I need to make currently.

  4. Kits would be nice. but they’d probably end up costing more than a finished product.

    I’d probably pay $5-$10 for a PCB depending on size. But they would need to be kept well stocked.

  5. You have been including shipping. I think it would confuse people if you didn’t stick with the same deal for all your stuff. So I would roll the shipping into the cost of the PCB.

  6. I don’t think I would pay more then 5€ per PCB with shipping (also depending on the pcb and its size). More than that I would start thinking about having a couple made with a pcb service.

  7. I think 10€ would be ok for a PCB without errors. Also 10€ for a bundle of 3 PCB’s with minor errors would be something to think about.

  8. less than 5$ for prototyping one.
    5$~10$ with shipping should be fair for working one.
    But for me, I cannot make online purchase, sadly :(

  9. Around $10 per PCB seems fair.
    I believe shipping is fairly cheap for small PCB’s so free, depending on where in the world they are to be sent.

  10. I would say something like $10 at the minimum, since it gets you an unending stream of projects to work on as long as you actually do them. This whole trying to be the first two commenters thing is a little ridiculous, with 15 comments being posted within 2-3 minutes.

  11. I’d be wiling to pay your cost for the PCB.

    That way you’re not losing more than shipping, and customers get to learn how much PCBs cost.

  12. Though I don’t need a free PCB I have considered doing this also. It is very hard to price the time/effort. I’m not sure I would do as Kenneth suggests and give unending PCBs, though I guess that is your policy if they show that they are making them. I would say that 5 dollars with shipping is as much as can really be charged effectively. As seen here the consensus is that is a trivial amount of money.

    I think 20 dollars is another one of these price cut offs in people’s minds which is why Cygni is exactly 20 dollars. Not because I consider that a fair price considering the effort to assemble them.

    I thought you didn’t want to sell items directly for taxation reasons?

  13. I really believe that giveaways are a very cool way of keeping people looking at posts. Also it becomes really interesting when random non-pcb stuff gets inside the drawer, it gives some magic to the process.
    Since they are already leftovers and since you would probably be shipping through post, it would be nice a $3 tag including shipping. It would be nice to have an option to do like 3 pcbs for $1 + $5 for shipping. I would pay the fair price to get the pcbs even for practicing smd.

  14. I’d say that if you want to change something regarding Free PCBs you should consider charging money for package like PCB + the components. I do think this would be a rather popular demand. Because in europe for example the price for delivery of the components needed to build PCB could be inadequately high.

  15. Given the prices for most projects at Seeedstudio, I’d say $5 including S&H is probably about right.

    D.

  16. I’d pay 5€ shipping included for a code if I really needed it, as long as you kept the “assemble one board, get another coupon free”. I’ve already assembled 3 proyects from free PCB drawer, and having the moral obligation of assembling the boards I get for free to honor their creators and not making them waste their time and money is a very good excuse to make big orders of components in a regular fashion.

    I love being in “the endless loop”.

  17. 5$ with shipping will be fine and 2$ for each extra pcb ( standard size). 10$ for proto board with shipping.

  18. Shipping MUST be included. The price should be around 5$ to to 10$, of course depending on the board size.

  19. It depends if the sales of the “free-pcb” is meant to actually generate any significant revenue or not.

    Most of the PCB’s here got a price range from say $0.90 up to maybe $3 for a fairly large board in relly small quantities. For instance an Arduino-sized board is $1.15 in 100 quantities and $0.68 if you get 500 of them (pcbcart.com). A Buspirate board is $0.90 in hundreds and $0.51 each for 500.

    To cover costs and add a little bit of extra I’d recon that $5 inclusive of international shipping would be a fair price for a a freepcb coupon.

  20. Let’s say 5 or 10 usd depending on the size, regular shipping included. Of course, big pcb or 4 layer pcb should be quoted more. Kits are also interesting, but I’m afraid the price would increase too much.

  21. $5 a ticket seems to be about the normal price for equivalent boards out there. Shipping should probably be two tier, US and Global. You can cram a whole lot of boards into a $2.50 media mail box. So I’d say charge $7.50 for the first ticket and 5$ for each additional ticket in the order. If someone is ordering over a pound of boards you can pretty easily eat the extra shipping.

  22. $5 for a PCB including shipping is fair enough. I like the idea of untested cheap boards as well, and I would vote for the kits too.

  23. I think the PCB price should include manufacturing cost plus worldwide shipping and handling. This is for error free PCBs. Since you order them in batches, these should cost lower than single board or minimal batch manufacture for those who interested to build up some device.

    Ones with errors should be fairly cheap, because neither you, not many of us will be able to make something useful out of them but practicing and prototyping. I wouldn’t expect also many international orders for error containing PCBs, mostly local.

  24. If I were just buying a PCB I would want to pay $3 for small break out board sized PCBs and $5 mid sized boards and $10 for the boards that currently take 2 coupon codes. All with shipping included.

    If I were buying a coupon code for the PCB drawer and when I finished one board I would get another I would want to pay $10 to $15 with free shipping on all boards.

    I would like to be able buy all of the required parts for a board from the site in a bundle or part by part even if the package was more than the finished product from Seeed.

  25. I would pay around $5. You could up the price a bit with free shipping- an envelope doesn’t cost that much.

  26. Thanks for all the great feedback. I’ll do a summary tomorrow.

    A few quick notes… free PCB days will not stop, this is just an alternative. Good point about the unlimited pcbs though,that wouldn’t be included in the sold version.

  27. Shipping should be included in the price.
    I would pay like €6,75 max (depending on the board I want)
    This all assumes that I just buy one PCB, without the ‘finish one, we’ll send you another one’ stuff.

    If I was buying a PCB coupon with the ‘FO,WWSYA’ thing, I would pay €12,50 (yes, double the single PCB price. Why? After finishing project nr.1 and starting with nr.2, my motivation usually drops, so little chance there will ever be a nr.3…)

    I would also recommend selling the (‘hard to get’) components as well, which will increase the number of projects being finished instead of staying in the ‘to do box/list’.

  28. I’d say $5 shipped sounds about right to me. Would be interesting to see whether building would work out cheaper than buying a finished product from seeed – after buying the needed components in low quantities.

    Agree with the other comments that you could charge more (2x or 3x) for an unlimited PCB’s coupon..

  29. $1 per square inch plus shipping would be a good price for most smaller-sized PCBs. I would suggest having different pricing for international shipping instead of just one flat price including worldwide shipping. Otherwise your domestic shoppers would be subsidizing the international orders.

  30. I’ve been reading the above comments and I guess that I’m a cheapskate. I would pay somewhere between $1-3 for a bare PCB, plus ship cost. However, I’d prefer that the stated price includes shipping.

    That means that the PCB cost would be determined by its size – and I think that is reasonable.

    I purchase bare PC boards in production quantity and that probably influences what I think is a reasonable cost – I’m used to paying less than a dollar for a reasonable-size bare board.

    dwayne

  31. Hi,

    Rather than just selling the PCBs, you’d be better off selling the PCB plus components as a kit, for those of us that want to DIY. Sometimes it’s hard to source the necessary parts.

    Also, maybe early model prototypes could be sold as just PCBs (probably $5 – $10, shipping included, depending on complexity) for those that love to live on the edge.

    One last comment on the prototyping PCBs that you have and sell through seed studios; I think those are awesome, but it would be nice to see some articles on how to make best use of them when prototyping a design or even how you yourself use them when prototyping.

    — Farzad

  32. I think your current method of distributing free PCB’s is more fun. If you charged for them, people would say looks at this defective PCB you sent me for HOW MUCH? :-D Plus you wouldn’t get as much activity in your forums/twitter. How much is the publicity worth, compared to a few stamps and an envelope….Priceless ;-)

  33. I would think $5, shipping included, would be the highest amount. A better offer would be perhaps 10 PCBs that you randomly select (all different) that you sold for $10, shipping included.

    The think about buying just one and paying for it is that people now have an expectation of getting value for money. If it gets lost in the mail or has a defect (even a cosmetic blemish) people will be upset.

    If it is sold as a box of “odds and ends” then people do not expect perfection.

    When you start charging money it is extremely important that you meet expectations and don’t disappoint people.

    When it is free, the expectations are much different.

  34. Postage + handling. These are after all prototypes.

    Still thinking about what to do with my coupon code.

  35. let’s say , for a 5×5 cm PCB i would pay 4 $, and a extra 2.5 $ for worldwide shipping (I don’t mind if it takes a little longer for the PCB to arrive(because I can plan ahead)).

  36. Majorly damaged/errored PCBs: $0.99 and $1.50 for larger ones
    Minor trace errors: $1.99 and 2.50
    Obsolete buy working designs: $2.99 and $3.50
    Fully working designed, paper rolls, and ICs: $3.99 and $4.50

  37. I think $5 would be a nice price with shipping included.

    Well I’ve been participating in Free PCB sundays for quite some time but everytime i was unlucky to get it in right time because of timezone differences, I live in India time (GMT+5.5) & when its about to be monday (sunday midnight) the posts start open, though I checked intially in the day time.
    Need some rationalisation of time zones..
    Regards
    Najmul

  38. Yes! This is a great idea! I’ve been unable to be fast enough to get in on them any other way, and I’d happily pay $5 to $10 to get a coupon for a board. :)

  39. I think $5 shipped would attract a lot of people, if shipping costs are not too hight for you. But I think we should also consider board size. so maybe $7 or $10 for the bigger pcbs

  40. Depends what you are trying to achieve with the free (or not) PCBs, I think the assembled items are at a price that if I desperately wanted one of anything I would buy it assembled, Especially if I wanted to use it as a tool or in developing something else, i.e bus pirate.

    There also comes a point with low values that it ends up costing more to process than you are collecting.

    But I am surprised that you do not ask for postage costs.

    If you are giving 6 boards a way each week and from what I see may be pictures of one a week get assembled, is that good enough?

    Maybe better giving them to people who give somthing back, bug fixes or additional features in firmware?

    1. I’d say maybe 20% of the freebies are built out. Sometimes there’s a big flood, probably depending on midterms ;)

  41. I do agree that a kit for these pcb’s would be better than sliced bread. It is a slow process to research and gather parts need to complete the projects. Even if it did cost a buck or two more it would be worth it.

  42. AFAIK, these PCBs are already a sunk cost. You need to make at least 1 in order to test your new designs, but you end up with a whole stack that you don’t need. If you had a walk-in retail store, then giving them away would not cost anything extra.

    The problem with free shipping is that it adds to your cost. If you’re going to charge for these boards, then you should make sure you cover shipping and handling. I don’t think it matters whether you say the boards are free, or you say the shipping is free – either way you need to cover your additional costs. Whether you attempt to defray your sunk costs is up to you (and the market).

    I do not understand the many comments above where people are saying that shipping MUST be free. We’re talking about a world wide operation, and shipping costs vary a great deal depending upon the destination country. Unless you charge enough to cover the most expensive shipping then I think it’s not possible to provide free shipping. I agree with Mike’s suggestion above.

    Finally, I understand why many people are asking for a kit, because it would make their projects easier. However, if Dangerous Prototypes offered kits then there would be a huge operation of predicting which kits would be popular, keeping parts in stock to fill all kits, and mind-numbing labor to fill little bags with parts. This is the sort of thing that Mouser already handles. Maybe a better solution would be to create a ‘Project’ at Mouser for each “virtual kit” and share them with everyone. That way, people can pay actual cost for their kit, and Mouser’s staff can continue their fine job of stuffing little bags with electronics.

    P.S. Do not enter me in the PCB drawing – I have plenty of Dangerous Prototypes already and am designing my own!

  43. I would round the cost up to $5, $10 $15 (including shipping) depending on how much it costs to produce the PCBs. Say a $7 PCB should be should be sold for $10. That way you’d have extra money to continue making great projects.

  44. I would say $3-$6, depending on size.
    Another idea would be to continue the free PCB, but have an option to double your order when you order your free PCB. You would end up with twice as many PCBs (in case of a bad one or whatever) for a small cost, say $5.

  45. thou i know ill never get a free pcb this might be my only option to get bus pirate so 5 dollars per ticket

  46. The Seeed Studio Fusion PCB service is $105 for 100 pieces of a 5×10 cm board shipped. I picked this size because it seemed about average for the boards offered. Unless this service is offered at a loss (which I doubt), the cost per board is ~$1. I think $5-6 dollars including shipping would be a fair price. This might only work if you phase out the “finish one, get one free” deal you currently offer but on the other hand, it would open up the opportunity to build boards to a lot more people.

    Also would purchase several kits if offered at ~66% of finished product, ie Bus Pirate kit (PCB plus components, unassembled) for ~$19.

  47. I would definitely buy for around $5-$10 us shipped world wide ,as a suggestion is there a way of getting the free boards without Twittering as I stay off those sites ie security and HR reasons.
    cheers Dene

  48. Hmmm… when I was reading the article, I thought 1/$5 or 5€ 2 for $10/10€.. I see that either “great minds think alike” or “Blodgar is devoid of original thought”. Kits at a reasonable discount over the assembled items would be a good idea, with a disclaimer/agreement holding DP/Seeed blameless if the builder screws it up.

  49. I would go with $3-$4 for the 1 coupon PCBs, and up to 10 for larger PCBs. All of that would be for error free PCBs, and with shipping. With errors in the boards, I would pay $1 including shipping,

  50. Something for you all to consider, for $15 (that includes shipping) you can get 10 boards from Seeedstudio’s Fusion service, and all DP designs are open source. I would hate to jip DP out of money for something like this, but paying $5 to $10 is a lot, esp. when for a few bucks more you can get 10 times as many with any modifications you’d like to make.

  51. I think shipping should be included in the price. Id pay 10 for a mid sized board, and 3 for breakout boards

  52. 1-3$/sq in of the board? Not sure how well that’d work out with shipping – perhaps there’d be a cutoff, above that price shipping is included?

    Alternately, as others mention: Next 5$ increment over the cost of the board, that seems like that’d work well too.

  53. It is always nice to know the total price of an item when you are browsing, so I always like it when shipping is included in the price, but if the cost of shipping is built in to the price then there is no break in the shipping for buying multiple PCBs. I would say $3, $5 and $10 for small, medium and large PCBs or $5 for one PCB code with larger boards costing 2 codes and a discount on multiple codes that are used together.

  54. I would like to think that a flat rate would be acceptable for all PCBs. I propose the buyer should pay a $10 coupon fee. Any profit made can support the Dangerous team.
    Those who would like to try and win a free PCB coupon can still do so. Others that wish to support the Dangerous team have the option.

  55. $5-6 including shipping. Shipping could be via the cheapest method available (1st class envelope in the US). Larger boards could have an additional per sq inch charge added to the base $5-6 charge.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.