When you haven't designed a board before and are planning a decent-sized production run, it's probably a good idea to use a service like OSH Park to test your design prior to scaling up. Silly mistakes are almost inevitable, and squeezing an iteration between Kicad and scale-up is good practice.
Unless you're really impatient, like me.
I ended up working with the kind folks at Gold Phoenix PCB for the Neuron v0.4 boards. A few specifics on the order:
- Everything Neuron is RoHS compliant, since there's a good chance kids will be fiddling around with the bare boards. That means lead-free solder, which means higher temperatures for reflow. As such, I used high-temperature 0.062" FR4 rated for reflow temperatures.
- I included E-testing, fancy light-blue solder mask, white silkscreen, and RoHS-compliant tinning as optional adders.
- I uploaded a single board Gerber and used Gold Phoenix's online tool to panelize and V-score the boards--32 per panel at ~1.2"x1.2" each.
I ordered 128 pieces; one board came back with a red dot (failed E-test) so Gold Phoenix threw in another sheet--netted me 31 free Neurons, thanks guys! Without expediting, these showed up on my front porch 8 days after uploading the Gerber files. Needless to say, I'm quite happy with how this turned out. $1.9146/piece, and that's before figuring in the free sheet!
After the boards arrived, I frantically hand-soldered one together, crimped up an ISP programming harness, and uploaded a simple program to light the green LED:
While this didn't tell me everything, at least I can talk to the chip and the LED seems to work. Hand soldering the LED was a PITA, so the next units will be reflowed.
More to come!