Until now I have always etched all my boards at home. Every now and then I have checked the prices for getting it fabricated for me, and while the prices have dropped incredibly the last few years, the shipping to where I live have brought it over my pain limit.
So for my current project the plan was to do the same. But both my inkjet and my laser printer was in a bad mood and I had trouble getting good contrast when trying to make the photo masks. So I checked the prices again. And now it is pretty reasonable and I decided to attempt my first board house order.
I edited the layout a little to make it more suitable for fabrication at a board house. Like reducing the VIA sizes a bit (I usually make them a bit oversized to make them easier to drill manually) and tidying up the silkscreen.
First I sent off a microcontroller board that I’m going to use as a controller for my Tesla Coil. And a couple of days later I sent off the power board for the same project (H-bridge inverter). When the controller board came back I filmed the population and initial testing and put it on my Youtube account where you can check out how that worked out (and laugh at my mistakes along the way).
First applying the solder past for SMD components:
Then placing the SMD components:
Before populating through hole components and testing:
I have since received the inverter board aswell and will probably write more about that later. But right now I’m away from home for a few days.