While there is great satisfaction in home building PCBs, adding up the cost of the blank PCB, etchant and the drill bits comes to over $4 per board. But for $6.25 a board the whole thing can be made professionally. This Instructable takes you through the steps to create the Gerber files that the PCB manufacturers need. The total cost was $75US including shipping for 12 boards. 3 boards would be about US$62.

This Instructable builds on some great work at http://www.instructables.com/id/EXU9BO166NEQHO8XFU (Draw Electronic Schematics with CadSoft EAGLE) and http://www.instructables.com/id/EZ3WN1QUKYES9J5X48 (Turn your Eagle schematic into a PCB). Eagle is free.

Step 1: Designing the schematic

The full schematic is at http://drvernacula.topcities.com/315_mhz_solar_powered_radio_rptr.htm and is the schematic for a solar powered radio repeater module.
<p>I'd like to recommend a free, zero-install, Web-based EDA tool called EasyEDA which integrates powerful schematic capture, mixed-mode circuit simulation, PCB layout and PCB order service. With it, the process of making PCBs will become much easier and also can save your time and money. Details can be seen by https://easyeda.com/Doc/Tutorial/PCBOrder.htm#PCB-Order</p>
<p>You guys are <br>really professional. When I started doing an international project, and I <br>contacted Robert of SysPCB in China, always was very attentive and willing to <br>give me the necessary help to avoid mistakes, today more than ever I appreciate <br>all the time devoted to the project of PCBs and everything I learned from.</p>
<p>thankyou for the wonderful walkthrough. This is really helpful because communicating with the manufactures about design requirements is really difficult without gerber files.</p>
<p>so can you make gerber file by yourself?</p>
<p>How can I get a pcb board to buy?</p>
<p>There have lots ways to get a pcb board to buy, For example: contact me with skype: live:zoeoyang</p>
<p>This you can try with this PCB fab <a href="http://www.pcbway.com/e" rel="nofollow"> www.pcbway.com/e</a>, they are special in PCB prototyping.</p><p>With more than A decade in the field of PCB prototype and fabrication, also their price is very cheap, Even many price-sensitive customers like students and hobbyists largely rely on us for their PCB prototype and fabrication orders</p>
<p>We are professional PCB Manufacturer in India. We specially work for small batch qty. shipped the PCB all over world. </p><p>you can visit www.photozonegraphics.com for more details</p>
Hey, this is one instructable that I have been using as a reference material for the last 3 year, when ever I want to make a gerber file. I keep forgetting what to do while making a gerber file. I think its about time that I thank you. Thanks a bunch for this amazing instructable.
<p>You're welcome, when you buy bulk PCBs feel free to contact me . skype: live:zoeoyang</p>
I'm surprised no one has mentioned SparkFun's batchpcb.com prototype service. They take small orders and combine them into panel orders that are processed by Gold Phoenix. 2 layer boards cost $2.50 per square inch with a $10 setup fee. They're slow, though. Expect to take at least 3 weeks while they gather together a batch order and transit from China, etc. Since they use Golden Phoenix to produce the boards, you already know GP will accept your files when you're ready for a larger batch.
<p>when you buy bulk PCBs feel free to contact me . skype: live:zoeoyang</p>
The Portland Dorkbot group has been doing batch PCB orders every month for over 8 months, and recently opened it up to anyone. Basically, the cost is $5 a square inch and you get three copies of your board. 6mil traces and spaces, double sided, with solder mask and silk screen. I submit a board or two almost every month. This is perfect for Eagle CAD sized boards. Check it out at http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order
<p>double sided I can give you $90 a square meter with surface treatment immersion gold.</p>
<p>double sided I can give you $90 a square meter with surface treatment immersion gold.</p>
And this guy accepts straight eagle files, so you don't even have to deal with gerbers at all. I had one run to get eighteen total boards that cost under $50. Granted twelve of those boards were really tiny (.7&quot; diameter). I highly recommend this.
<p>double sided I can give you $90 a square meter with surface treatment immersion gold.</p>
Thanks for taking me a leap forward. When I process this board into files via the CAM, I notice the check box &quot;Fill Pads&quot; is checked and I can't uncheck it because it's grayed out. Sure enough the artwork in the files generated has all of the pads filled in. I'm doing home brew boards so I need these holes as a guide for my drill. Your help in unfilling these holes is appreciated.<br />
<p>You can send me CAD file directly, or protel 99se,PAD,DXP files. We can make PCBs according them</p>
Hi, <br> <br>I also have the same problem .. &quot;Fill pads&quot; is checked and I cannot un-check it. <br> <br>Please help if you figured out the solution. <br> <br>Thank you very much,
My misteak! Roller microchips should read roller micro switches! The kind that are actuated by a cam. Is shaping the pc board and cutting slots for some of the components done by another device like a router (not trace router) that requires a separate instruction set?<br>
I recently needed to build a simple PC board so I downloaded Eagle PCB. With the help of a couple of tutorials and your instructibles I was able to complete the project to the finished, and previewable, gerber files. Your step by step instructions made the process very seamless.<br>I have one question though. My PC board must have a u shaped cutout in the top of an otherwise rectangular board. I also need to mount some roller microchips on this side where there is an angle and very specific measurements between holes. <br>Is there a feature in Eagle PCB that allows more specific adjustments to the size of the board beyond pulling in on the side frames and is there a way to locate non-pad holes for mounting the micro switches so that they are in a very precise location and can be drilled when the boards are being manufactured? I do have the entire project in AutoCAD and I have a drill layout and shape as one of the layers. I am just unable to figure out how to export this layer in a format that can be combined with the output files from Eagle PCB.<br>Thank you for your help and for taking time to respond.<br>Dale
Thankyou for the kind words. <br> <br>I am not sure about changing the board shape but I think there are other instructables that might show how to do this. Search for Eagle? Also you would probably need to ok this with a PCB fab house. Maybe start with the PCB manufacturer first. <br> <br>Re non pad holes, I have found it easiest to design a new part. There are instructables on how to do this. One of the things you can add to a new part is a hole (of various sizes). It helps to have the exact part dimensions. <br> <br>Sorry I can't help further but there are other instructables written by authors who know a lot more about Eagle than me! <br> <br>Cheers, James Moxham
This comment may be late in the game: <br> <br>&quot;always autoroutes the whole board&quot; <br>Not true. <br>I have been creating Arduino-size PCBs (80x100mm, 60x80mm) with 3-4 extra SMD ICs, and Eagle has hard time completing it. One needs to take care with component placement or you find yourself having to clean up a lot. <br>Oddly, even with 2 ground planes, the place where I have been left hanging is ground connections! I've been having luck with that by moving signals around manually to let the lower &amp; upper ground areas overlap and then adding a via to connect them. <br>I'm using the free eagle software, and have the 1-sheet schematic pretty full up, not a lot of interconnections shown to free up space, bunch of parts with just signal names hanging off. <br>
OurPCB sucks thundershit. I asked them for a quote on a 2.5 in x 4 in double sided PCB, and the price came up to 6.30 USD + 30 USD (!) shipping and 100 USD "tooling charge". Yep, 136.30 USD for a 2.5 in x 4 in double sided PCB. No thanks, I'll keep making my own.
<p>Our unit price will be $0.54 /pcs tooling charge $50 not including shipping cost</p>
For smaller scale you need a different PCB company. Different companies specialize in different things:<br> <a href="http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-2-layer-10cm10cm-max-10pcs-p-396.html?cPath=64_12">http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-2-layer-10cm10cm-max-10pcs-p-396.html?cPath=64_12</a><br> <a href="http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=19_20">http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&amp;cPath=19_20</a><br> <br> A quick price checker for these and the rest:<br> <a href="http://www.ladyada.net/library/pcb/costcalc.html">http://www.ladyada.net/library/pcb/costcalc.html</a><br> <br> This one has a really good student offer, $33 for 3 boards with all bells and whistles I think<br> <a href="http://www.4pcb.com/">http://www.4pcb.com/</a><br> <br> And of course they already mentioned sparkfun and some other sites that do single boards at a higher price.<br>
Just double check that $100 - they tried to charge me that last month but it was because it was the Chinese New Year and I think they wanted a holiday. $50 is the usual charge. I think if you want just one board do it with a prototype. If you want 3, there may well be other manufacturers where the price is cheaper because you can piggyback on other people's orders. But if you want 10 boards or more, it ends up very good value IMHO. Tonight I'm sending off an order for 10 sprinkler controller boards and it works out good value, especially if I cost in my hourly rate building 10 prototypes with point to point wiring vs 1.5 hours designing a PCB. Maybe try searching for some of those other manufacturers that piggyback single orders.
I beg to differ, 4 bucks a board? Maybe if you buy everything from radioshack. For me it costs about a dollar a board to make a t home.
It depends if you add in the setup fee and the shipping fee, which are fairly fixed regardless of how many boards. I just ordered another batch of 20 and the actual board cost was 23c each.
I found a seller on eBay who sells 360sq. inches of single or double sided, any thickness, any size blank copper clad board for $10 + $10 shipping. I got 60 boards, for $20, that's about $0.33 per board.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/">http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/</a> sold me enough ferric chloride to last a lifetime for $20<br/><br/>My laser printer was $10 on Craig's List<br/><br/>I built a heated, agitated etching tank for $25.<br/><br/>So for $75 I can make 60 boards, that's a little over $1 per board, plus I only have to reorder the copper.<br/><br/>As far as ordering online, though, this is a pretty cheap site for small quantities, thanks. Great instructions on making the Gerbers, too!<br/>
how did you make the heated, agitated etching tank
Instead of that, you can also use pigmented ink, yellow is best (I guess it needs more pigment than other inks to look right), to act as a resist. You do need to watch etching times though.<br>http://www.inksupply.com/product-details.cfm?pn=MISPRO-4-Y
1 of these - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100292394&amp;N=10000003+90156+501358">http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100292394&amp;N=10000003+90156+501358</a><br/><br/>2 of these (I actually used 4 of a smaller size, but I couldn't find those on the internet) - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100402508&amp;categoryID=501358">http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100402508&amp;categoryID=501358</a><br/><br/>1 of these - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?jspStoreDir=hdus&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100161471&amp;navFlow=3&amp;keyword=marine+sealant&amp;langId=-1&amp;searchRedirect=marine+sealant&amp;storeId=10051&amp;endecaDataBean=com.homedepot.sa.el.wc.catalog.beans.EndecaDataBean%402860da6c&amp;ddkey=Search">http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?jspStoreDir=hdus&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100161471&amp;navFlow=3&amp;keyword=marine+sealant&amp;langId=-1&amp;searchRedirect=marine+sealant&amp;storeId=10051&amp;endecaDataBean=com.homedepot.sa.el.wc.catalog.beans.EndecaDataBean%402860da6c&amp;ddkey=Search</a><br/><br/>1 of these - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100401770">http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&amp;langId=-1&amp;catalogId=10053&amp;productId=100401770</a><br/><br/>1 old fishtank heater<br/>1 dale rod to stir<br/>2 lbs FeCl3 - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/Online_Catalog_PCB_Etch_Resist__Exposure_Kit__Etching_Solutions___245.html">http://www.minute-man.com/acatalog/Online_Catalog_PCB_Etch_Resist__Exposure_Kit__Etching_Solutions___245.html</a><br/><br/>My tank is 8&quot;x8&quot;x1&quot; on an... 8&quot;x8&quot; base I think.<br/>
Hello,<br/><br/>I read the comments but confused about the low pcb costs.<br/>For example, I am using ExpressPCB tools. <br/>Cost of making 4 boards size of 4 * 5.5 inches is $ 269, professional services including solder mask and silk screen. <br/>The standard service is $ 124 without solder mask and silk screen.<br/>PCB manufactures say need gerber files, can't do it without.<br/>The cost of gerber file order is $ 60.<br/><br/>Andrew<br/>
It certainly is worth shopping around for prices! On the last page is a link to OurPCB and they are a lot cheaper. I got 12 boards 11x16cm made recently for $110. And due to the fixed setup/shipping but very cheap actual board cost, I also recently got 30 boards 5x5cm for $89. That includes mask, screen etc. Yes they need gerber files, but this instructable shows how to make them (that doesn't cost anything and takes about 30 seconds once you know the shortcuts). I'm using Eagle and the free version can only make beer-coaster sized boards. But if you pay $125 once-off you can go up to a reasonable size. That pays for itself over only a couple of runs. I hope this helps :)
Does not cost only a dollar if you don't have all the stuff to do it. I can say for sure getting boards made is a lot cheaper than making them at home. I worked at a couple PCB fab places & got a ton of tooling & FR404 1/2 1/2. I have a mill & cut my own, but with time, forget it, just get 'em made. Right now Gold Phoenix is $99 for 155 sq in.
Again, a million thanks for your generousity in producing this fine tutorial. It's been a lifesaver !! One problem I am having at this point using both your tutorials, is that I am getting a solder image without pad holes for my components. They would be nice to guide my drill as I am making my own boards. THANK YOU !!!
Great to hear it is helping someone! Can you provide some more information about the solder image? There is the .sol file but there are lots of other files produced. Are you making your own boards or sending them off?
I'm making my own. I followed the instructions to a Tee. I did all the steps but when I view the resultant .sol file, all the pads are filled in. when I print that sol file, likewise, no holes.
The gerber files are for the fab house and splits up the board into lots of layers including the solder layer, top side, bottom side, text, and masks. So just bundle them up and send them to the fab house. <br> <br>If you are making your own boards, then I think you need to print out the layers as a file/print rather than create gerber files.
Hi,<br /> <br /> Having problems with the drill file, all I&nbsp;get as an output is:<br /> <br /> T01 0.032in<br /> T02 0.040in<br /> T03 0.079in<br /> T04 0.126in<br /> <br /> and nothing else, so when it uploads to a PCB&nbsp;Fab they say the drill file doesn't exist. What am&nbsp;I&nbsp;doing wrong?<br />
Thanks! I followed your tutorial to create my first gerber a couple of weeks ago! If you are looking for a good place for PCB manufacturer my Professor recommended PCB International (http://www.pcbinternational.com). We fit in 4 different parts and the total charge was only $94. We just recieved them a few days ago and they look great!&nbsp;
I also like reading articles on homebrewing boards. A good source for PC boards and supplies is www.j-tron.com. Nice article. www.meltedsolder.com
This instructable is right on! It enabled me to create my files and the board came out perfectly. Thanks so much! Ali
I get all my boards done through Futurlec (www.futurlec.com) as they do a good job and only need the original PCB file, not all the separate files like gerber etc (this is the 21st century, about time PCB makers realised that getting boards made should be simple - it's not rocket science after all). They will email you a pdf of the various layers and masks etc before manufacture (make sure you ask for this) and if you become a regular like me, they may even do all your prototypes gratis, they do mine... The only thing to watch out for is that on multilayer boards, their drill sizes are the size of the hole they drill before they sleeve it, the finished board will end up with holes about 4 mil smaller than your drill sizes specified. Also, being based in Thailand, there can be a few language issues - just make sure you ask for that PDF proof!
Good find! And a slightly weird experience as I was in the Futurlec site buying some leds when this message came through. (I just noticed your username - this is getting even weirder?!) They have an automatic quote system and for a 80x160mm double sided board, $74 for 1 board, $99 for 3 and $190 for 10. Plus $14 shipping. I like Futurlec - $4 shipping for small orders worldwide (vs $30 for digikey). Plus I emailed them once about adding a part to their stock and they added it a week later. Free protoboards? Nice. How does that drill size thing work? Does it mean that standard library files from, say, Eagle, end up not quite fitting standard components or is 4mil too small to notice, or do you just push the components in?
The Futurlec online quote system is pretty inaccurate, it always quotes higher than what they really charge you in my experience, so always email them (sales@futurlec.com or sales@futurlec.com.au for anyone in Oz) to get a quote...
guyfrom7up try making a six layer board at home then

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