Get your PCBs made

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Under construction: PCB making guide

Contents

Overview

There are many inexpensive PCB services around. Seeed Studio (our preferred) and ITead Studio make two-sided PCBs with the works starting at $1 per 5x5cm PCB. Both use the same prototyping PCB factory in Shenzhen China. Turnaround is fast, shipping starts at $3.

Others like DorkBotBox, BatchPCB, etc. pool up multiple orders and send them to the fab. Laen at DorkBotPBX offers purple PCBs that have been quite popular.

We wanted to write a tutorial on how to get your PCB manufactured using these cheap services from source Eagle files.

Design rule check

First step of the process is to make sure your design is within the specifications of the PCB service you will be using. To help you with this, the associated PCB service provides Design Rule Check files for Eagle. Grab a design rule file from your prefered PCB maker:

  • Seeed Studio
  • ITead Studio
  • DorkBotPBX
  • BatchPCB

image

To run a DRC, you simply open your PCB layout in Eagle, and go to Tools > DRC... A DRC window will open from which you can load the manufacturers .drc file you previously downloaded. From this window you can also make adjustment to the various design specifications like minimum trace width (Sizes > Minimum Width), and trace clearance (Clearance). It is usually a good idea to increase these two settings a few mils if your board doesn't require absolute minimum the board house can produce. Once you've set it up just click (Check).

image

The DRC will scan your board and log all the errors on your board that go outside the scope of the specifications. By clicking on varius log entries the portion of the board where they occur will be zoomed in, and the error in question highlighted.

Generate gerbers

Gerbers are generic files that any respectable PCB manufacturer can use to make boards.

Grab the CAM file for your preferred PCB maker:

  • Seeed Studio
  • ITead Studio
  • DorkBotPBX
  • BatchPCB

image

How to run a DRC,

image

what it does, layers generated

Preview gerbers

Check the gerbers before sending the PCBs to be made.

Grab a viewer:

  • example
  • example

image

setup gerber viewer

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example of gerber viewer

Zip up the files

Put it in an archive. We include a readme.txt with....

For Seeed Studio and Itead order the PCB online and email the files. BatchPCB has a web interface, DorkBotPCX has XXXXX.

Get your boards

In our experience, services take about this long:

  • Seeed Studio
  • ITead Studio
  • DorkBotPBX
  • BatchPCB

How to inspect the board, what to look for.