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.
- How to mail PCBs. Our original tutorial on the wiki.
- Free PCB store. Which board do you want?
- Free PCB builds. Dedicated builders get more free PCBs!