Some days ago I received my new PCBs. This time I tried Sparkfun’s BatchPCB. BatchPCB is a specialized service to enable even smallest orders. They collect some smallers orders and have them produced in a batch at Gold Phoenix. So the smallest order is a square inch.
The quality looks really good, as far as I can tell. Especially the edges of the PCB are smooth and not as rough as the ones from Olimex.
To get them produced, BatchPCB has a nice tutorial. It shows you how to process your Eagle CAD files to the needed Gerber files. When you are done with that, it’s time to get an account at BatchPCB. Next you can upload your zip of Gerber files. There is a check, that every file you uploaded is recognized correctly and that no files are missing. A couple of minutes later you will receive an email with an in depth check of you files and with images of your design. That way I noticed, that the bottom left corner of the boundary was not centered. That resulted in displaced drill holes. I corrected that error and uploaded the design again. This time it looked good. Now I went to the shop (!) and ordered my design. Hmm, I take 5 of these today.
It took 22 days until I received my boards, 15 days until shipment and 7 days for shipping to Germany. I payed 31.52â‚¬ ($48.45) overall for 5 tiny boards. Actually the price includes shipping ($25.95) and handling ($10 setup fee). The board itself costs only $2.50 (1 square inch).
This order at Sparkfun cost me 1.05â‚¬/cm2, compared to 0.34â‚¬/cm2 from my last order at Olimex. That is a huge difference, but my boards were tiny and shipping and handling was high. At the end I am very pleased with the outcome. Handling and payment completely online was perfect and better as with Olimex, but Olimex was faster, 11 days to 22 days. The price is higher at BatchPCB, but therefore you can start with really small boards and don’t have to pay for a complete board of 160x100mm. At last they send me 10 instead of the ordered 5 boards, that reduces the price to 0.53â‚¬/cm2. That’s cool.