[sdiy] PCB / Panel Manufacture

ColinMuirDorward colindorward at gmail.com
Fri Feb 7 02:37:54 CET 2020

Hi Shawn,

I can give you a run down of my fabrication process, perhaps it will help.

I do my circuit design and PCB layout in kicad. If I'm rushed, I'll draw it
up and order a PCB right away, without even breadboarding it. I don't
recommend this, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but there you go. I almost
always make mistakes and end up having to mess around cutting traces and
running wires on these PCBs to make them work. Again, no pride in that. By
now I'm ready to make a second version, with the bugs ironed out, so I'll
re-do the layout and send it away for production.

Now I'll make a panel. For reasons I can't remember, I use diptrace to do
my panel layouts (I do PCB type panels). I think maybe I couldn't figure
out how to import a font into kicad. My panels are all 10cm x 10cm, because
why not invent a new format that takes advantage of the size constraints of
ultra-low cost PCB prototyping? It's a nice size to work with and the
reduced height (compared to 3u) makes them more rigid. I use regular 1.6mm
PCB thickness. Now I'm doing some 4u and eurorack though, too.

I'm lucky to have a friend who can make me 19" aluminum rack cases for me.
These come in 2.5u height, or multiples thereof, and can fit 4 modules
across each row. Power is from a separate rack unit. I use gx16 3pin
"aviation" cables to run +/-15v to each case. The gx16 socket solders
directly onto a small distro bus which then mounts onto the rear of each
rack case. In my power supply rack unit, you'll find salvaged transformers
and the cheap lm317/337 PSU kits from ebay.

I've used several Chinese PCB fab houses, but lately the sales and special
offerings at JLCPCB has me a returning customer there.

OK, maybe I lost the plot there and gave you too much info about my entire
system. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask!

Good luck,

On Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 10:48 PM <mskala at ansuz.sooke.bc.ca> wrote:

> On Thu, 6 Feb 2020, Shawn Rakestraw wrote:
> > I should also mention that I am in USA, although that probably doesn't
> > matter that much anymore. I do prefer to order things in the US when I
> can
> > though.
> If that's a requirement for PCBs (as may be the case, for instance, if
> you're a defence contractor), it'll significantly increase the price tag.
> > I am asking for any advice at all really. My question begins with who /
> > where to order from, but after that I am a bit in the dark about what to
> > even ask. I don't know if copper trace thickness should be a concern.
> My old Web log article on circuit board shopping doesn't cover all your
> questions, but it's a start at least:
>    https://northcoastsynthesis.com/news/circuit-board-shopping/
> --
> Matthew Skala
> mskala at ansuz.sooke.bc.ca                 People before tribes.
> https://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/
> _______________________________________________
> Synth-diy mailing list
> Synth-diy at synth-diy.org
> http://synth-diy.org/mailman/listinfo/synth-diy

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