WORKSHOP VIDEO #08: How to mail free PCBs

This week we talk about the Free PCB drawer, and show how we mail out all those free PCBs.

We order PCBs from Seeed Studio’s Fusion PCB service and get ten copies of every board. Usually we only need 2 or 3, so that’s a whole lot of PCBs we’ll never use.

Since the beginning, Dangerous Prototypes has given away the extras. In the beginning it was a specific board given away on blog post every Sunday, originally conceived as a totally lazy, no effort Sunday afternoon filler post.

After a while it occurred to us that the PCBs might be more useful if people could get one they want. We took inventory of the extra PCBs stored in a desk drawer and entered them into a Zencart based store we call the Free PCB Drawer. Instead of giving away a specific PCB, we started giving away codes to pick a PCB from the store. This has the side benefit of automatically formatting addresses correctly.

Providing a choice of PCBs turned out to be a winner. A lot more boards are built up and tested. To encourage users to post their builds, we started the ‘unlimited free PCB program’. Users who post pictures of their build on a blog, flicker, or in the forum get another PCB code. There’s a whole community of regular builders now who sometimes even test a project before we do.

Every week we give away 6 PCBs in contests, a few to repeat builders, and sometimes more to people who ask nicely or do something awesome. We’ve averaging 45-50 per month, over 400 orders have shipped from the free PCB drawer so far.

If you’d like to win a free PCB, we give out 2 every Friday over Facebook, 2 every Sunday here on the blog, and 2 every Tuesday on Tweeter.

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17 replies on “WORKSHOP VIDEO #08: How to mail free PCBs”

  1. Thank you for the video! As I do hate social networks (yack, I’ve written it), I have only one chance every week. I’m approaching the 50% chance :D

    1. Ian,
      new to your site. it is very nice. doing a little xmas shopping for son. could not pass up free project board opportunity. i would be pleased to give him more opportunity to build. any chance for more solder practice, component id, etc. I think it is a great idea letting folks help keep your junk drawer clean. I can and would be willing to help. More quality father son time. The logo sticker would go right on my service panel near work bench. I don’t do the social sites at all but do subscribe to videos on youtube.
      take care and Merry Christmas to you all!

  2. Is there an issue with the post office when you put the label so low? I always thought they had to go in the center so that they could print their bar codes along the bottom edge. Is there an official rule on this? (Seems like there would be, being USPS and all.)

  3. According to the USPS link, the OCR reader looks for the address starting at a line 5/8″ (16 mm) from the bottom edge of the envelope. I assume you can place your physical label anywhere, so long as the letters forming the address fall above that line. Or maybe they built in some leeway and it actually looks closer to the edge.

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