Let's make a PCB using an online service for professional results!
- 03 Feb, 2017
We’ve all been there… We prototype a project on a breadboard and everything seems to be working.
Ok so now what? Well we probably would like to take that project from a breadboard to something more permanent.
You make all the connections by hand, which is very time consuming and let’s face it, doesn’t look that great.
Another option is to use dangerous chemicals to etch a copper board. Aside from being messy, the results are dependent on many factors: time, temperature of the solution etc…
One more option, if you have the tools, is to use a CNC machine to trace a copper board with your PCB design. While this looks cool and can produce great results, the cost of the machine, cutting bits needed and time spent, might not be the best way after all.
The last option I can think of, is having your PCB professionally made by a company. This way you can concentrate on the PCB design and let someone else make it for you. This will save your time and when you factor the cost of the other options above (chemicals, copper boards, tools…), the price might not be that different, and you will get stuff you can’t get with those other options: Like solder mask, silk printing…
So, following our last tutorial, “creating a Button Box”, we will use an online service: https://EasyEDA.com to design a PCB for our Button Box project.
EasyEDA uses an online interface so we don’t need to install anything on our PC or MAC, and best of all it’s free.
One great thing about using EasyEDA is that you can find and use parts created by it’s community to create your PCB. So if you want an obscure part to use on your PCB, chances are that someone has already created it.
When you are done and satisfied with your PCB design, you can go ahead and order it directly from that same online interface.
Here’s the PCB that was designed using EasyEDA online interface.
Since this is a 2 layer PCB, the red lines represent the top layer traces and the purple lines are the bottom traces.
The Purple line is the board outline.
Everything in Yellow represent the top silk printed layer.
The parts for the Cherry MX, CD4021BE and the DigiSpark were all found by searching the library of users contributed parts.
This is what makes EasyEDA stand out from other services.
The learning curve of using EasyEDA to create PCB is fairly low depending on the complexity of your project of course.
You can design a PCB from a traditional schematic view and then move on to a PCB layout view based on it.
For a simple project like ours, I went right away to designing the PCB without creating a schematic first. This in my mind, makes it a lot easier to get started since you are connecting the component exactly like they were connected on your breadboard.
You just drag from one connection to another without worrying about the PCB traces and then use the “AutoRouter” feature to let EasyEDA create and route the PCB traces for you. Of course once that is done, you can go in and make changes if you want.
Once completed, all you have to do is click on the “Manufacture” link in the interface and you can go ahead and order your PCB directly from EasyEDA based on your design.
Please watch the Tutorial video for more information and walk trough of the process.
While we wait to receive the PCB we ordered:
- Using EasyEDA.com service removes a lot of the fear of making your own PCB
- Their online interface is easy to learn and can be accessed from anywhere
- The users contributed parts is a major selling point
- Prices are low even for small quantities
- Turn around time is fast, so you can get your board quickly and start soldering
Of course this being an online interface, it’s not as complete as an installed software, it does take some time getting use to, but for small projects I feel it’s not too bad.
In our next tutorial I will give you a more complete impression including, quality of the boards received, total time for delivery, etc…