Printed Circuit Board
I finally managed to wrap everything up in KiCad, and decided it was time to order the PCBs. To be able to order the PCBs you have to decide on which company who is going to do the printing, some alternatives are
OSHSPARK is based in the US and seem to produce PCBs of higher quality, but also higher price. They seem to be fairly slow to delivery unless you pay a hefty sum of money.
JLCPCB is based in Shenzhen, China, and offers dirt-cheap production and if you pay for fast shipping you’ll have your items within a week, which is kind of crazy. The quality is good enough for an amateur like me.
Sidenote: the shipping was almost 6 times more expensive than producing the PCBs, but the total cost was still lower than OSHSPARK.
After choosing JLCPCB, I had to provide my project files in a format that they understand. The gerber files, there are multiple guides on how to create these so I won’t go through that but if you choose OSHSPARK I’m fairly certain that you don’t even have to generate these files as they can parse yur KiCad files.
I was very pleased to see the PCBs when they arrived. All this fiddling in front of the computer to try and understand KiCad and optimizing the layout of the components really payed off. There is a special feeling when you hold it in your hands compared to when you just see it on a screen.
Luckily I got sent multiple PCBs, they only accept orders of 5 or more, because I screwed the first one up while soldering some components to it.
- It’s easier than I expected to create your own PCB.
- Production is faster, and cheaper than expected.
- I was proud holding my PCB.
- A PCB is hell of a lot tidier than soldering on strip boards.
Maybe you too should create a PCB? Just to understand how they are created and to unveil the dark magic that might be shrouding electronics of today!