PCB fab lab questions? (and nixie tubes?) Answered
Now that I have a new oscilloscope (rigol DS1054Z), and have learned a LOT about programming and electronics while down at NASA langley for a research program (semi-intern), I feel like I should start working on a real project (other than my quadcopter), and was thinking about making a nixie tube clock. I would like to make it from scratch of my own design as I feel one learned the most about electronics by not using other's designs. However, I do not have the resources or time to bother trying to etch my own PCB. I attempted that before and was not able to get usable results.
What kind of costs am I looking at if I locate a relatively local company for the job? I hate calling people and companies, but I suppose that is still the most practical way to figure out what I need to do and place an order, I don't know.
Economies of scale is a great thing, makes things in bulk production cheap! However, would the costs of ordering one or 2 PCBs be non-economical and/or non-practical? Should I consider many smaller projects and stuff to be created on a breakout board?
I hate messy, sloppy protoboard, it is just nasty, though easy for non-high-density boards. however, I would love to hear the opinions of others for these things.
When dealing with nixie tubes, are sockets for the 1N-14 avalible? A lot of the new old stocks seem to have very thin and long legs, almost as if they are meant for through hole soldering directly onto a PCB like capacitors and resistors. I would prefer a socketed tube to make replacing them quicker and easier.