Often design and research is and expensive business, especially when dealing with technology that your are unfamiliar with. A big proportion of this is PCB manufacture and I have spend a few years looking for a low cost reliable method for PCB production.
Dirty PCB step in.
Dirty has been setup by the guys at Dangerous Prototypes as a reliable access to PCB fabs overseas.
I discovered Dirty PCB while looking at another PCB manufacturers reviews and recommendation on a forum post.
So went over to there website and I was almost knocked of my feet at how cheap 2 layer PCBs were.
If you can keep your design under 5cm x 5cm and don't mind if you end up with anywhere between 8 - 12 PCBs then it is only $14 (9GBP) that could be less than
0.10GBP 1GBP per PCB. WOW! There is also a selection of colours for the solder masks at no extra cost.
For me that is great for me as most of my designs are under this size as 50x50mm is quite equate for a breakout board but for $11 more you can have up to 10cm x 10cm (100x100mm That's huge).
There are a few things that you need to accept to get this price level the boards can only be 2 layers and the pad finish will be HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling) there is an option for ENIG (Electro-less Nickel Immersion Gold) but it is $15 more. Also there free postage option is quite slow so its worth paying $19 more to get DHL airmail, I realise this is more that the PCBs cost but otherwise it could be a up to 8 weeks delivery.
Next thing to have a look at is there capabilities, this is all listed in the FAQ.
|Material||FR-4 0.6mm-2.0mm 1oz copper ('standard' PCB material is 1.6mm thick, but we default to 1.2mm)|
|Maximum size||100*100mm (10*10cm)|
|Shape||Almost anything! We'll send it and see if they accept it!|
|Min internal slot||32mil (0.8mm)|
|Min core thickness||4mil 0.08mm|
|Min core thickness||16-96mil(inner) 16-118mil(out)|
|Min silkscreen line||0.15mm|
|Min BGA size||Oblong:10*13.5mil/circle:12mil|
|Min SMD width||8mil|
|Min solder dam||3mil(green)/3.5mil(black)|
|Min dielectric thickness||2.5mil|
|Min diameter of finished hole||12mil|
|Tolerance of drill position||+/- 2mil|
|Tolerance of finished hole size||PTH +/- 3mil|
|Tolerance of finished hole size||NPTH: +/- 2mil|
|PTH hole copper thickness||0.6~1.4mil|
|Max A.R of PTH||8:1|
|Surface copper thickness||1oz|
|Routing dimension tolerance||(Z0) Impedance control 4mil|
|V-cut||Now refused! |
|(Z0) Impedance control||+/- 15%|
|Ionic contamination||< 6.4ugNaCl/inch2|
|Surface treating||(No PB) hot air levelling/AuSn/AgCN/Electrogilding/Ni/OSP*/G.F|
|*OSP||Organic solder-ability Preservatives|
This is much the same as most board houses standard service I'm mainly looking at the trace thickness and clearance which is 4 thou (thousandths of an inch, this is a bit of a legacy thing with board houses) and a clearance of 5 thou.
There is some helpful things further down the page, Dirty PCB supply a design rules check file for Eagle this file is use in you design rules check to make sure your PCB design is manufacturable. They also supply a cam processing file to help export your design manufacture file. But if you use Eagle like I do you can just send in your .brd design file and Dirty PCB will do all the exporting for you. This is great as I don't have to worry about getting the export wrong or sending the wrong layer files.
So that's it time to give them a spin. Note: Dirty PCB only accept PayPal payments best to make sure you PayPal details are upto date.
On thing I noticed after putting in my order is that the level of communication is amazing are reassuring, and you can also check the status of you order in the websites status page.
One Week Later (seriously that is really really fast!)
Such Box! Much Cute!
There is no mistaking this box the end stamp is very cool.
And then you even get a sticker, I like stickers :)
The PCBs where well wrapped but a little loose in the bag the could rub against each other possibly scratch the finish but this didn't happen in my case.
I always get excited to see one of my own designs as PCB please don't get too excited this is not a product its just a demo board to try out a BLE chip that I might use in a product ;)
The finish is great the Silkscreen is legible and the resist is nice and even. lets have a look under the microscope.
The quality is excellent and precise the soldermask is tight to the pads with none of the ground fill exposed. The thing that really knock me off my feet is they have also managed to apply the mash between the the pads on the main package, these gaps are less than 0.2mm in width that is brilliant.
And for the free sticker.
Got the perfect place for that.
So what do I think of Dirty PCB here is my round up:
- Easy of use: Straight forward and quite fun the site feels as though it doesn't take itself to seriously and approachable. Though more payment options would be a nice addition.
- Communication: Reassuringly comprehensive without feeling like I'm being spammed.
- Lead Time: Quick!
- Packaging: Exciting!
- Finish and Quality: Astounding good.
I can only award Dirty PCBs up to 5 sparks but in may opinion they deserve 6. Very pleased with the service.