Let's Make Robots!

Experience with PCB's from Sparkfun

The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!!   ...PCB's actually.


Well, I just got my custom pcb's back from the one-off pcb service from Sparkfun. I gotta say, I am very happy. Granted, it took 3 1/2 weeks to get them but then again, I did get a total of 7 custom boards (with all the bells and whistles) for only 50 bucks including the "set-up" fee and shipping. I used Diptrace to design the boards and the software spit-out all the needed files. Super-simple, cheap, good boards and I'm happy, period.

In this order:

One board to hold (2) picaxe 40x2's with servo connections for all in's and out's except for the output to the motor controller which is screw terminals.

Five boards to hold the "Radio Shack" IR Sensor and related components

One board housing (8) small pushbuttons and resistors to create a multi-voltage output (to be read by an ADC Channel)




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I don't know how I missed this posting, or why it hasn't garnered more attention for that matter,  this is awesome Chris!

I've got a couple questions for ya. Are the boards doublesided(traces on both sides)? Do each of the mounting holes(points where ya stick components into) have pads on both sides(they appear to)?


Not sure if it's worth it, but if a few people(2-5max) did a bulk order, do you think it would save money on soemthing like this?

I'd be up for something like this if it would save on shipping and the whole process overall. 


That diptrace program was a great find. I've been toying with it and I think my next board will be done with diptrace + sparkfun. I got some questions though.

Diptrace has lots of options and preparation steps before you can send out the design. Do you have to change a lot of those options or can you just use the defaults before you send it out to sparkfun.

Also: Does sparkfun deliver the 2 layer PCB with the connections between the layers or do you have to wire those "verticals" youself?

i thought it wasnt Sparkfun that did the bords, everytime i click on the link it takes me to another site, is that normal?

I tries uploading the gerber file to the site but then you have to choose witch layer is witch and thats were i had no idea what to do !


Voodoo --

Nothing is bulk and there are no discounts. The bottom line is $10 starts the order and you can include as many designs as you want on that one order. From there everything is simply $2.50 a sq. inch. This includes everything: Doublesided trace, soldermask, silkscreen, pads on both sides and the boards can be any shape you want. Again, everything is a fixed price, super-cheap but pretty slow... Mine took 3 1/2 weeks.



When I exported from diptrace I didn't touch a single option. I exported all the files (gerber, drill etc) just as they were default set. From there, I just zipped them and emailed them in. I don't know if the verticals are pre-done, I would assume they are. The pads seemed to be pre-tinned when I got them but also, the hole sizes for all the componants were so perfect (via diptrace) that everysingle solder point wicked it's way through to the top side.


It is a different company and the boards are actually made in China. I had no problems with thier system though.

Ant (And advice to all)

Almost all the connections I needed were in diptrace I only had to custom-draw 2 that I couldn't find in the library. I did indeed draw the screw-terminal blocks --It was a piece of cake to do so, though.

Big piece of advice...

Don't try to make a schematic first and "convert to PCB". I tried this many times and it sucked balls everytime. Instead, go straight to the PCB editor and just draw what you need right there. I can't imagine there would be anything I would ever need that would be too complicated to just simply draw. --Keep an eye on if you are drawing on the top or bottom layer, though --This screwed with me from time to time.


I'm determined now to finish my boards and get them sent out by the end of this week...man it'll be awesome to get custom boards for the ir receivers...

Thanks again for the info ctc, invaluable!!!

Now that I have these boards... I have so many more I want to do!!!

I'm looking at this guys setup for inspiration on small boards as I just got an attiny13and started to play with it the other day. I have a shopping cart at mouser that has the attiny25 and attiny45(more memory and i2c) as they are pretty cheap. I was also considering making some of those firefly things that some people have made on the instructables site. Mainly I want to use them for a small microgreenhouse project I've been planning out.


Mind if I ask what those 5 small boards are for? if is what i think it is I might ask for your design.

Those are all for an IR receiver circuit. It is the one in the picaxe manuals. I got sick of un-tidy homemade ones so when I made this PCB order, I did a quick draw up of these. In the end they were only 2.50 a piece. Also, I set them up to work with the radio shack 38khz sensor --The one radio shack sells has a little "mounting bracket" attached to it with little tabs that can fit though a pcb and be soldered in so I included the appropriate holes for it. The other end is just 3 pads, +, - and signal and is set-up so you can solder pins in place and use a servo connector.

If you want some of them, the"pattern" is sorta "on file" over at the sparkfun Pcb service. If you would like, I can find the search word you would need to find it over there and you can just order your own.

Thats what i though they were!!

I was going to make some my self but if you dont mind could I use yours?

I would actualy need to modify them so that a picaxe  08M chip could fit on it,  like in my forum post, so that the picaxe  would then send a high to my robot.

If it is possible to midify the layout from the fille on the internet for my needs the  search words would be very usefull!!

Thank you in advance.