I've talked to Ian about this, it's not a big issue, I'm trying to see if this is worldwide or local to Canada - I think it is the latter.
On a $US29 PCB order inc DHL (which is a bargain BTW) I pay about $US14 on receipt of the order. The duty/taxes is 12% which is minimal, DHL add about $US12 of processing fees. This not limited to DP, the google reviews of the local office are full of similar complaints - they're over zealous on collection of duty to profit on the fees. Fedex/UPS/Post will let through up to $US200 with no duty.
I'm curious if anyone else eg. Europe sees issues like this. I'm not expecting Ian will add Fedex et al just for little Canada, but if there's a bunch of people seeing this it might be worth his while.
One of the best features (other than the cool guys that run it) of dirtypcbs is that they choose to let you explore the capabilities of the board house without vetting what you submit. Some times that's garbage in garbage out (I've had to de-panelise boards with a metal shear). Some times the result is golden.
I've had two very successful runs at panelising using apeture scripting.
I need more processing power than an AVR for an upcoming project so I ordered an Arduino Zero to take a look at the SAMD ARM processors. Unfortunately my son coveted the box it came in, once the two were separated the Zero was never seen again. I had separately ordered the processor part, I realised I could build a Zero using a spare DP xQFP 50/80 prototyping board.
I find myself needing to peer into and under packages a lot, I got sick of holding the pcb and trying to focus so I laser cut this little stand. It has two angles on it for different views. I find it is especially useful for usb connectors.
MaKeyMaKey was a very successful Kickstarter from some smart guys at MIT (http://makeymakey.com). It uses capacitive touch to stimulate USB HID devices using a Arduino Leonardo compatible programming environment.
We ran a workshop at VHS in Vancouver Canada last night building these using PCBs from Dirty PCBs. The design is open hardware, the Eagle files, bootloader and sketches can all be found on github (https://github.com/sparkfun/makeymakey).
For our SMD March workshops I chose Ishan Keribar's Embedded Ethernet Gateway. I added an FT230X and usb port with a Arduino uno style reset on CTS (230X has no DTR but avrdude toggles both). I also used a SOB 5050 template to make cases easy to design. By adding an 8MHz variant to the Arduino board config you can then download sketches like a Arduino - this is a little more accessible than a STK500.
Unfortunately I made two errors on the PCB, they're fixed by cutting tracks as seen in the photos.
The files are all at github including assembly photos, instructions and 8MHz/57600 bootloader. I make assembly easy by colour coding the strips of components to match the colour highlights in the photos. I distribute the photo printed as standard 4x6 images.
I've been running workshops most months since September, it's a great way to get people interested in a hack space. All the instructions and pcb designs are open source, feel free to repeat these at your hackspace.
I have some spare pcbs. Given the errors I'm not selling them, but am open to offers of trade etc. The version on github has the errors corrected but has never been fabricated.
In one of the earlier SMD workshops I've running at http://http://vancouver.vanhack.ca I managed to temporarily kill my new macbook pro when I plugged in a partcipant's prototype. I revived it by removing the back cover and disconnecting the battery - all the time chanting to myself, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator…..
This is a nice simple soldering project that does exactly that, isolates your USB port from connected devices. There are two input usb connectors, one carries data and power from the computer the other supplies power to the output. The output comes from a 3rd USB A connector. There is no power/ground/data connection between the computer and connected devices other than through the isolator chip. This board has two grounds, two power supplies etc.
The isolator chip is an ADUM3160, it is most of the cost of this workshop – “The ADuM3160 is a USB port isolator, based on Analog Devices, Inc., iCoupler® technology. Combining high speed CMOS and monolithic air core transformer technology, this isolation component provides outstanding performance characteristics and is easily integrated with low and full speed USB-compatible peripheral devices.”
Based on a recommendation in these forums I bought an American Optical 570 stereo microscope on ebay some time back. I added the illumination shown below, I thought it might be useful to others. I cut 3 pieces from a right angle piece of aluminium section, coated them in heatshrink, attached them to the lense with zap straps and then used tiny zap straps to attach LED car headlight rings (80mm, 100mm, 120mm - also from ebay). They're powered through a pwm dimmer as the glare can get too much from very reflective surfaces.
Name: Tom Arriving: Hong Kong 2/Apr ~06:00AM Attending: Days 0-3 and Maker Faire Background: In my mid 40s, trained in s/w, currently working in fpga, hackspace director, running monthly smd workshops at local hackspace. Soldering since I was 8, first PC was a system 80 (trs-80 clone). Expectations: 1) Meet a bunch of fellow hackers and have fun 2) Get better at soldering BGAs/QFNs and have fun 3) Stock up on switches/connectors/leds/wire/ etc for the next few years ;-)
(I've started this for people to voluntarily share information. Pls share as little as you want, don't share enough for someone to find out where you live and when you're gone).