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Thread: Source for good prototyping PCBs

  1. #1
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    Default Source for good prototyping PCBs

    So I've been wondering where you guys get your prototyping boards? I generally work with the single-sided copper clad boards with individually ringed 0.1 inch hole spacing for all my stuff. RadioShack has a good board about 4"x6", and I pretty much use it exclusively. I cut it down to size according to what I'm working on.

    I recently tried a source on eBay, for a FR4 prototype board for $5 delivered from China, but it just came and it's pretty thin and flimsy, and the copper is not uniformly applied. Pretty sorry looking.

    Where do you guys get yours, especially the larger boards?

  2. #2

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    I've been using OSHPARK. They are not cheap but I've been quite pleased.
    They do two sided boards.
    They will do 3 boards at $5 a square inch.
    Orders for 100 square inches or more for $1 a square inch. The 100 square
    inch can be broken into two boards, of the same count, for a total of 100 square
    inches. I did 10 of each.
    It is kind of screwy pricing but I found that for what I was doing, I made one
    of my boards larger just to get 10 each at the $1 per sq.
    The biggest advantage is that you can use KiCad that is free and works OK.
    I still have troubles trying to figure how to handle custom libraries but it otherwise
    works well.
    They take the KiCad design files directly without having to create gerber files
    for dilling holes. Having worked for a company that needed to create these
    files, I determined it was best to avoid the possible errors.
    We did 2X plots and gerber files. Really fun.
    When doing the boards, the rats nest would occasionally disappear?? It wasn't
    a big deal as one just reloaded it. It did cause me a problem though. It
    did this on the last short trace. I didn't see it.
    It has a number of annoying order of doing things that can be frustrating but
    it still works fine.
    Dwight

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks for the info, but that site looks like it's for PCB fabrication, not generic prototype perforated boards with copper holes. I'm mainly interested in the generic boards. I don't do a lot of custom PCB design.

  4. #4
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    Default

    If I need really large board, bigger than Eurocard size, I look for NOS Vector supplies. You can of course still buy big Vector protoboard brand-new, but it's expensive. For smaller stuff, I order from China. I typically get the multi-pack of green solder masked FR4 with plated-through pad per hole. It's reasonable quality though usually shipping takes forever. Make sure you order boards that specify thickness, otherwise you get flimsy thin protoboard that's nearly useless.

    Been considering laying out some standard protoboards in larger sizes, possibly with DB9/DB25 footprints on the edges. 8x10 inch Ohio Scientific boards typically cost $35/each from one of the Chinese board houses I use, in qty 5, so it shouldn't be too expensive.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Holmes View Post
    I recently tried a source on eBay, for a FR4 prototype board for $5 delivered from China, but it just came and it's pretty thin and flimsy, and the copper is not uniformly applied. Pretty sorry looking.
    The last set of these I bought from China just plain smell bad, too. Nevertheless, they were cheap. I used to really like the old radio shack boards that had identical layout to their breadboards.

    Like Dwight, I pretty much use Osh Park for everything these days. I have a pretty good track record for designing digital projects more-or-less correctly, without prototyping. The downside is of course that it takes a couple weeks to get the board.

  6. #6
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    You have to be very careful. Never use anything other than FR4 stuff--the paper-based phenolic is next to useless.

    The last ones I purchased were pretty decent Double-sided, plated-through holes, lot of 4 8x12 cm for about a buck apiece.

  7. #7
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    Those look exactly like the assortment I usually purchase, when I'm running low.

  8. #8
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    Also, if you're looking for a specific bus (XT, AT, Multibus, VME, etc.) Circuit Specialists is a good source. Not Chinese-cheap, but reasonable.

  9. #9
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    Lots of good sources! Thanks all!

    I just saw that the Radioshack boards are currently on sale online. They're selling the 2200 hole board for about $2.40 a piece, which is a good deal on a quality board. If you get a bunch of them, the shipping's free. I like this board for most of my stuff, but it's just a little small for my current project. I just bought 20, especially since Radioshack's future is a bit unsteady right now.

  10. #10

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    Ah. I see I missunderstood. You want proto-board, not boards proto typed.
    Dwight

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