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…
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.
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…