low cost prototype PCB vendor?

Jim Brain brain at jbrain.com
Mon Apr 26 22:18:28 CDT 2010

On 4/26/2010 12:25 PM, Tony Duell wrote
>> I can think of one very good reason : If you're the sort of mortal whose
>> designed don't always work first time, or if you prefer to desgin a bit,
>> get that working, add on the next bit, and so on, then it's a lot easier
>> to do tha, make changes, modify things on prototyping board than on a PCB.
I'm not sure that's a valid reason.  It's pretty easy to make mods on a 
PCB as well, unless the initial design is really FUBAR.
>> And I wondeer... For a one-off project how does the time taken to lay out
>> the PCB check it, etc compare to thr time taken to wire it up by hand on
>> a prototyping board.
If (and a big IF) someone is very good at reading pin numbers backwards, 
has good prototyping skills, and doesn;t get in a hurry, I'd say the 
prototype direction wins.  But, I can see that swinging in favor of PCBs 
very easily:

    * It's easy to get messed up while looking at the back of a board as
      to pin numbers.  Sure, they make guides for that, but then that's
      just another product you need to have in your kit.
    * You still have to design it in something (napkin, graph paper,
      etc.)  For ultra simple (<10 major components) designs, I can see
      the napkin as OK, but beyond that, hand drawn schematics (that
      don't take as much time as a PCB app) get hard to read and prone
      to error.
    * Moving from idea to prototype can be addictive to the point that
      corners are cut, creation is done in haste, and then mistakes are made

Probably the most important reason

    * wirewrapping and such don't work nearly as well with SMT.  You
      either need to buy SMT->through hole adapter boards (another item
      to stock in the kit), or use kynar, glue, and a patient hand to
      solder a "dead bug style" SMT IC to your prototype

The last item is what drove me to PCB for all my projects.  Many newer 
parts only come in SMT variants.


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