Review of dirtypcbs.com – a cheap prototype PCB fabrication service now even cheaper!

Few months ago I ordered a couple of prototype PCBs from this service. If you are looking for cheap prototype PCBs, I believe you shall take a look to this service. The http://www.dirtypcbs.com is run by http://www.DangerousPrototypes.com, well known DIY hobbyst portal and USA based company. Consequently, all support and communication is provided by them. The actual fabrication is done by Shenzhen factories.

The service offers Protopacks – 10pc of PCB each 5*5cm (or less) or 10pc each 10*10cm. If your board is 6*3cm, you have to choose 10*10cm Protopack.

At the time of my order (May 2016), the prices were:

  • 5*5cm PCB, 10pc – $15
  • 10*10cm PCB, 10pc – $25

Which gives me $2.5 for each 10*10cm board. Prices are excluding shipment, which in my case (Mongolia) was $29 for faster DHL, for 20pc (2 designs each 10pc). Which is not bad at all. The are cheaper options for shipment but that will take longer and not trackable.dirtypcbs_order

I just discovered today that now their prices are even more attractive (and the web also got some facelift):

dirtypcbs_prices_new

  • 5*5cm PCB, 10pc – $11.95
  • 10*10cm PCB, 10pc – $16.95

Cool, isn’t it? But there is more: with world wide shipping the prices are:

  • 5*5cm PCB, 10pc – $14
  • 10*10cm PCB, 10pc – $25

As I understand, it is airmail shipping which takes longer (and not trackable). Unless you can wait a 3-4 weeks, I advise to order 2 protopacks and choose faster shipment. DHL shipment cost for 1 and 2 protopacks (0.5-1kg) didn’t differ much.

http://www.dirtypcbs.com also feature nice order status, tracking and cool feature previewing you PCB (it is shown after you submit the gerbers, I hope they still have it):

dirtypcbs_preview

I placed the order on May 3, it was shipped on May 9. IIRC the package was in my hands within 6 days, but that was DHL. With airmail, it shall take 1-2 weeks at least and it is not trackable.

dirtypcbs_status

There is more stuff like sharing you PCBs and getting royalty, 3D printing, laser cutting but lets check the PCBs.

dirtypcbs.jpg

dirtypcbs-bottom.jpgThe design is rather easy one, minimum 10mil traces, 50/28mil vias. MCU is ATmega128A TQFP-64.

dirtypcbs-closeup1.jpg

Slight soldermask misalignment, but pads are still clear.

dirtypcbs-closeup2.jpg

Also some not-perfect soldermask, but not affecting the pads. As I understand, the blue soldermask is a bit more tricky than a regular green one. I intentionally didn’t put “finger” soldermask between MCU pads, it is not manufacturing issue.

There are marks on pads from probe, so the boards were checked.

The drill centering on vias are also slightly off center. Probably they are all within the manufacturer specs, one should check the specs on http://www.dirtypcbs.com if  design is more demanding. But at least for me there were no issues and I’m happy with a such the quality. And now with the new prices I’m definitely going to return to dirtypcbs.com.

I will be also review soon my experience with http://www.pcbway.com – another Shenzhen PCB fabrication service I’m happy with.

Review of dirtypcbs.com – a cheap prototype PCB fabrication service now even cheaper!

KEIL uVision5 syntax highlight customization

keil5 custom syntax highlight

1. Open the file global.prop.def, it is in UV4 folder.
2. Locate the keywords, around the Line 600:

# Keywords for C/C++
keywordclass.cpp=alignas alignof and and_eq asm auto bitand bitor bool break case catch char char16_t char32_t class compl \
...

3. Add keywords you like to highlight, for example here i’m adding integer types (these are not part of C/C++, so they are not highlighted).

throw true try typedef typeid typename union unsigned using virtual void volatile wchar_t while xor xor_eq \
uint8_t uint16_t uint32_t

Note that lines are concatenated with slash.

4. Enjoy more usable editor!

KEIL uVision5 syntax highlight customization

CadSoft Eagle library with Arduino Nano, 2.2″ QVGA TFT LCD

There is CadSoft EAGLE library from Element 14 with Arduino parts. Don’t know why, but I didn’t succeed EAGLE to auto route the trace / nets connected to Arduino Nano package. So I decided to make my own version. The library includes:

  • Arduino Nano R3
  • CD4050 (HFE4050) Non-inverting buffer / logic level converter
  • HKE HRS1H-S miniature SPST relay
  • 2.2″ QVGA TFT QVGA Color LCD + SDcard module
parts1 2.2 TFT LCD SDcard
There are several version of this 2.2″ TFT LCD module, popular within Arduino community. It features 240*340 pixels resolution, SPI interface for both LCD and SDCard.The module included in this library has a 5 pins on SDcard interface side: 4 pins for SDCard and 1 pin F_CS for CHIP SELECTing W25Q64 SPI flash memory, but as seen in photo, the flash chip is not soldered (U3 place). The module has 3.3V logic level and the display driver is ILI9341 comptible. Schematic and PCB drawing are included in docs folder.

Download the EAGLE library on GitHub.

CadSoft Eagle library with Arduino Nano, 2.2″ QVGA TFT LCD