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Dawncloack
Nov 26, 2007
ECKS DEE!

Nap Ghost

Hello there!

So as the thread title suggests, I am looking for someone to design PCBs. The background is simple: I am working on an idea and I want to make it into a reality.

I need a layout guy/gal for some PCBs. Although I am planning on learning KiCAD myself, so that I can use, understand, mix and match the designs I will (hopefully!) get, I figure that throwing a bit of money at the problem will save me untold amounts of time. And most probably the result will be better.

I have some questions though.

First, I know a bit about PCB design. I have a rough idea how design programs work, and I can do the whole acid bath thing to make PCBs, since I use the process for something else. That said, what are good credentials for PCB design?

Second, let's imagine for a second that what I want to work on is... ovens or whatever, something with fairly simple electric circuits, and what I want is to add PCBs to ovens. (ORIGINAL IDEA DO NOT STEAL!!!!11!!!). I am of two minds here. If I find a PCB designer amongs the oven enthusiasts at tweakyourovenforums.com they will know about ovens, yes, and that might make everything easier. However, if the person does not know the first thing about ovens, maybe they can come up with ideas and ways of doing things that no one has before, and that an oven enthusiast wouldn't think of because things are already done this or that particular way.
Which one would you reccomend?

Third, the way it works in my head is that I'd have skype sessions to explain in detail what I need, followed with time so that whoever I hire can work on it. I'm not on a tight schedule. What would it be the best way to bill this, what would you folks suggest?

Fourth, any pitfalls or suggestions, anything to avoid or to absolutely do? Your ideas will be most welcome.

Finally, do you guys and gals have any opinions on the Voltera machine, the 3D printer for circuits? It seems that it would be ideal for what I have in mind, but they point out that the conductive ink they use has a limited shelf life and I wonder if that applies to printed circuits too. I haven't gotten a response from them yet, and honestly, if it's good for prototyping but the circuits stop working after a while then it sucks and I don't want it.

Thanks in advance!

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Paul MaudDib
May 2, 2006

"Tell me of your home world, Usul"


On what basis do you doubt them? Do YOU have a degree in mechatechnology or nanotronics? I thought not.

I can tell you what happened to the first flexible printed circuits from the 80s, and it ain't pretty. Would I trust those circuits not to peel off the board after a couple years? Nope.

Take it for what it is, a method to get immediate feedback on whether you hosed up your PCB board design. Then you send it to one of the classic PCB manufacture services where you get a section of a panel. Then you put on the components and toss it in a frying pan. If you want to go into limited-volume production then you buy/build a CNC pick-n-place machine. Not one of the big pneumatic revolver machines, just something small. A couple grand in capital expenses is nothing compared to your expected profit, right? I'm very certain I've even seen a small pneumatic PnP machine retailed somewhere, basically a CNC mill plus a vacuum system.

It's actually a pretty cool idea that makes SMT prototyping a lot easier for novices. Through-hole is still the first and last step step for most people, though. Breakout boards are wonderful things unless you absolutely need to pinch every last MM^2 until the buffalo screams. And then you're probably not routing on 2-layer designs. Make it print both sides (flip the board and align) and it'll fit that niche better.

Paul MaudDib fucked around with this message at Jul 30, 2015 around 03:55

eggyolk
Nov 8, 2007



Just today I had to request quotes for custom PCB boards from a manufacturer and when they asked if we wanted them panelized I had not god drat clue what they were on about. Fabricators hate me. Our process is basically ask as many inane questions as necessary to get the desired outcome. Poor bastards.

sports
Sep 1, 2012


http://fab.fritzing.org/fritzing-fab might be what you're looking for. Fritzing is an easy to use PCB and circuit designer, (although you definitely should learn EAGLE) and then Fritzing has an in-house fabrication service.

Watermelon Daiquiri
Jul 10, 2010


I'm just glad there is a free altium now personally

bog pixie
Feb 23, 2013



Will you be making the boards yourself completely? I've worked with EPEC before and so have some colleagues from other companies, but mostly to order bare boards that are already designed.

Dawncloack
Nov 26, 2007
ECKS DEE!

Nap Ghost

Paul MaudDib posted:

On what basis do you doubt them? Do YOU have a degree in mechatechnology or nanotronics? I thought not.

OMFG RUDE! I have a degree in applied Swahili Literature with a minor in madeupology, how can you suggest I can't criticise them!! You are trampling my freedom of speech!!

More seriously though, thanks for the tip. I've been looking at those machines and I am not sure they are what they need. As I mentioned, what I have in mind has no chips, at least for now. I just need to think up modules to connect potentiometers and DPDT switches neatly (and perhaps in new manners). The idea being to have some modules designed that I'd be able to put together using a design program and then have small runs of them printed.

Those modules might include IC in the future, but certainly not now. Thanks though.

Also yeah, the expected profit is a reason but also I could tap some of my 12 trust funds to get me one of those machines. Maybe I'll just buy a factory in China.

eggyolk posted:

Just today I had to request quotes for custom PCB boards from a manufacturer and when they asked if we wanted them panelized I had not god drat clue what they were on about. Fabricators hate me. Our process is basically ask as many inane questions as necessary to get the desired outcome. Poor bastards.
Euh.... ok ? I'll admit outright I don't really follow. That said, if you are working with PCBs professionally I might have things to learn, care to explain ?

sports posted:

http://fab.fritzing.org/fritzing-fab might be what you're looking for. Fritzing is an easy to use PCB and circuit designer, (although you definitely should learn EAGLE) and then Fritzing has an in-house fabrication service.
Ah this sounds AMAZING! I could certainly use these guys services, since they charge per square centimeter. Thank you! That said there will be a question at the end.

bog pixie posted:

Will you be making the boards yourself completely? I've worked with EPEC before and so have some colleagues from other companies, but mostly to order bare boards that are already designed.

Thanks for the company suggestion, I hadn't thought that far ahead and you guys gave me some good suggestions. And yes, I want bare boards, all I want is the copper pathways. So I guess that's "yes" to your question?

It's probably obvious I'm new to this, so please speak slowly to me.

That said, I feel I should explain what I want a bit more, see if I get answers. Thing is, I AM going to learn a a PCB layout program, I think it's only responsible if I want to understand the circuits I want to create, and be able to create new ones and mix and match the modules I want to come up with.

But the thing is, the reason I was thinking of finding a layout guy/girl is because every time I try to put on paper what I want to do it comes up very spaghetti like to me, and I figure someone who knows what's up might be able to make the circuit more compact and neater and stuff. Am I wrong on this one? Are the optimizers that I hear programs have good for that? Do those optimizers account for certain conditions? For instance, I will probably use shielded cables, so I am going to need the ground and the positive fairly close to each other.

I'm open to advice, if you think learning one of those programs is easy enough, and that, it just building a whatever and hitting the optimizing button will solve all my problems then so be it. All opinions appreciated!

About design programs, considering that my point is not designing motherboards but waaay simple things (think of, say, radios or electric guitars), which program would you reccomned? I initially thought of KiCAD because it you can use it for free in linux, but I am open to ideas.

Thanks for your answers so far guys.

RussianBear
Sep 14, 2003

I am become death, the destroyer of worlds

Do you have a working prototype that you need to turn into a PCB for mass production or are you looking for someone to do the design and prototyping too?

If you just need somebody to do the layout for you then you should consider a service like Dirty Circuits. http://dirtycircuits.com/about.php

Dawncloack
Nov 26, 2007
ECKS DEE!

Nap Ghost

RussianBear posted:

Do you have a working prototype that you need to turn into a PCB for mass production or are you looking for someone to do the design and prototyping too?

If you just need somebody to do the layout for you then you should consider a service like Dirty Circuits. http://dirtycircuits.com/about.php

That seems exactly like the kind of thing I am looking for, but I'll have to give them a call to see if they are up to what I need, which is electric rather than electronic.

Thanks!

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sports
Sep 1, 2012


Learn EagleCAD. KiCAD is for industry, EagleCAD is more for quick prototyping (it's pretty well-regarded and I've used it with grad students and professors).

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