Review: Gold Phoenix PCB

The Quote

Pricing is fairly straightforward:  it’s a dollar per square inch for a basic setup.  That’s two-layer FR4, 1oz copper, HASL finish, solder mask on both sides, silk screen on one side, and reasonable trace/space tolerance.  Oh, and your board outline has to have less than 6 route points (so you’re pretty much limited to square boards with sharp corners).

Each additional non-standard feature adds cost.  For me, it was $20 for custom solder mask color; another $20 for custom silk screen color; yet another $20 for a board with a complex shape (the upper edges are rounded); and, of course, a final $20 for printing silk screen on both sides.

Yup.  $80 extra just because I was being picky…

Getting the formal quote is a fairly straightforward process, and must be done prior to placing your order.  Simply sign up for their web site and, after logging in, select “Creat New RFQ” from the menu (that menu option is misspelled on their web site; it’s not a typo on my part!).  From there, you can upload your Gerbers, enter a title, and submit.

When you click the “Upload files” button, you’ll get a sizable popup.  This is where you not only add your files for upload, but also where you select the various features for your board.  If you’ve ever ordered PCBs before, this should be familiar territory – but you need to pay special attention to the section at the bottom where you can enter multiple quantities.  More on that later.

You should also consider adding “ship as individual boards” to the Custom Requirements box to be on the safe side.  This will ensure that they depanelize them before shipping.

Since they’re halfway ’round the world, you can expect to wait a day before you get a response; this is simply because you’re probably submitting in what is, for them, the middle of the night.  They’re fairly prompt, however, and you’ll likely get your quote early the following morning.

Caveat Emptor

One thing to keep in mind with this company is that this is not a prototyping service, and as such, the pricing can be a bit strange.  They have to make a whole panel at a time for you, so you have to pay attention to how many you order.  If you quote various quantities, the results might surprise you:  you can pay less for getting more boards.

In my case, I had a number of different quantities quoted (25, 75, 100, and 500, if memory serves) just out of curiosity.  For my 1.9″x1″ board, the quote came in at $186.12 for 25 pieces – but only $179.92 for 100.  You need to have them quote a few different quantities and see what comes back; you might be pleasantly surprised.

I’m not at all sure how their pricing scheme is set up, and I was too lazy to call or email them.  My guess is they choose a panel size (100 sq. in. or 155 sq. in.) based on the quantity, and charge appropriately.  I suspect they ran mine on a pair of 100 sq. in. panels; I probably should’ve gotten a quote for 160 units out of curiosity.

The moral of this story is that you should probably send them an email if you want to know exactly how to optimize the price for a given design.

Me, I just ordered the quantity with the lowest total price, and I have absolutely no clue what I’m going to do with a hundred breakout boards…

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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3 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…

  2. Jane says:

    white solder mask is standard color, should’ be add extra fee.also the board outline isn’t complex shape. I think the charge of Gold Phoenix is little much more. There are many PCB manufacturers in China specilize in prototype and small quantity PCB fabricate.like King Sun PCB (www.kingsunpcb.com), good quality and resonable. maybe you can try.

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