Review: Gold Phoenix PCB

The Breakout Fin is here!

Since the boards were coming from China, I expected it to take a lot longer to get them – if nothing else, due to customs and shipping delays.  Apparently, I was wrong.

They arrived on Tuesday…

The Job

This is a terribly simple board: 1.9 inches by 1 inch, double-sided, solder mask and silkscreen on both sides.  Only 16 drill hits, all the same size.  On the upside, this board is very useful – but on the downside, I don’t suppose my experience will be terribly representative for a complex layout.

Before submitting, I ran it through FreeDFM and fixed the usual bevy of silk screen font problems; nothing else was detected, which is no great surprise.  And yes, I checked the drill sizes this time; I’d really rather not have a bunch of useless boards lying around.

When I built the TuneConsole, I was somewhat budget-constrained (unemployment will do that to you), but that’s no longer the case, which means I can finally order things exactly the way I want them.  I love non-standard mask and screen colors, so I decided to go with that on this order.  Red silkscreen on a white solder mask sounded like a great idea.

Standard FR4 0.062″, 1oz copper, HASL, etc.; nothing real special beyond the colors.  Note, however, that (unlike Advanced Circuits) lead-free HASL is an extra cost; the default is tin/lead.

The House

Gold Phoenix is the same board house used by Sparkfun’s BatchPCB service, and they have a fairly good reputation.  This is why I chose them for my first run at overseas fabrication; I’m leery of handing my credit card information to just anyone.  But I’ve heard so many good things that I figured that they were worth a shot.

Seems they now have a Canadian office as well, though I don’t think they do any manufacturing there.

I was originally going to use someone else, but I’ve heard the name tossed around so much that I decided to try them first.  They don’t specialize in prototype runs – there’s no special prototype pricing, though you can pay extra for faster service – so don’t expect to purchase just a few boards.  They also offer assembly, but that would be somewhat pointless for this particular board…

About Steve

When it comes to the desktop, Steve is a former Amiga, Windows, and Linux user, and as of six years ago, a die-hard Mac head (who, for once, isn't thinking of changing platforms again any time soon). When it comes to the server, Linux is pretty much the only game he plays. He also enjoys hardware hacking, and shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard after the sun sets (or for that matter, after it rises. Don't say I didn't warn you).
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2 Responses to Review: Gold Phoenix PCB

  1. Randy says:

    Gold Phoenix’s address in Oakville, Ontario is right around the corner from my office. It’s a residential street in a fairly well-off neighbourhood, so I think it’s safe to assume there’s no manufacturing going on there.

    I’ve used them in the past – mostly the 155 square inch special. As a multi-project panel it came out to something like $140 for a few each of up to 5 different projects – not bad.

    These days, though, I’m using Seeedstudio’s Fusion service. Great quality boards, and a 10 cm by 10 cm board runs about $25 for 10 pieces, though only 5 are tested. If you can keep it small, 5 cm by 5 cm is $10 for 10, 5 tested. Worth a look.

    • Steve says:

      I’m somehow not surprised that it’s someone’s house. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably not unlike all those companies that incorporate in Delware. :-) Not sure what the business advantage would be for them in having a Canadian address, but I’m sure there is one.

      As for Seeed, they’re definitely on my list to try, especially at those prices; now I just need another excuse. I do have a few ideas in the hopper…

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