• a review of PCBWay

    01/08/2019 at 19:27 1 comment

    Full disclosure: I was contacted by a PCBWay rep offering to spin a board for me in exchange for a review.

    I've used several PCB fabs over the years and last week I tried out PCBWay for my latest Atmega328P Target board revision.  Ordering was straightforward for the most part, although an annoying quirk was having to hit the cart button to update the status of their PCB review to be able to order.  The PCBs arrived quickly via DHL (I normally use the least expensive shipping option, but since it was on them chose the fast option.)  I did check out how much it would normally cost me with the cheapest shipping option and it came out to be around $13 USD, not bad.

    When I received the package it came very nicely packaged. The PCBs themselves came in a vacuum-sealed bag.  Also in the package was a light-up Frosty the Snowman PCB populated with the requisite components for it to light up that they threw in as an extra (always nice to get a nice little surprise included.)

    Overall the PCBs came out quite good.  Alignment was good.  The edges of the boards were nicely routed.  A small order number was placed on the board but it was placed in the best spot possible; the center of the footprint for Atmega328P.  When the MCU is soldered on, it's completely out of sight. Either someone reviewing the boards or an automated system was paying attention to detail.  A very minor disappointment was that there was no soldermask in between the pads of the Atmega328P footprint, but it didn't cause any real issues when I went to assemble it.

    My recommendations to PCBWay: 

    Do what other fabs that I've used in the past do and display images of the uploaded Gerber files on your website.  It felt I was taking a shot in the dark when I placed my order, hoping that everything showed up correctly on their end.

    For me at least would be nice to just upload my Gerber files vs having to type in board dimensions, then upload.

    Having solder mask between QFP pads would be nice.

    In summary, I'll give them a thumbs up. I'd also like to thank them for offering to spin a PCB design at no cost in exchange for a review.  I currently don't have a regular stream of income at this time so saving anywhere I can helps greatly!