I have a few small electronic projects I would like to make but I need circuit board. Do I order it printed or just the board. If I order it printed where and how much $$$.
Thank you much
Your question is unclear.
Circuit boards (PCBs) are specific to a particular project. I just Googled and picked this kit entirely at random;
The PCB comes as part of the kit.
Sometimes the PCB for a particular project will be sold separately.
If you want blank PCB stock, electronics retailers like Circuit Specialists sell it in various sizes/thicknesses.
Google "Manhattan construction" and "ugly construction" to see ways of putting circuits together.
Mouser (mouser.com) has 4" x 6" single sided boards - #590-586. These are easy to cut for small projects. RS still stocks double sided boards as well as small IC based project boards that are already printed - and etching solution.
Its probably going to be difficult to get PC boards in that small quantity. If the project has been featured in a magazine, you might google "Far Circuit Boards". They usually cater to the hobbyist.
Other than that, best bet is to make them yourself if the circuit is not overly complex. Radio Shack carries etchant and boards last time I was there. You will also need a sharpie marker if you want to hand draw them.
Its a lot of work, but in a couple hours time, you can have your very own homebrew board. The fun part is stuffing it with parts.
There are several places to have custom PCBs fabricated cheaply. Here are a couple I had at hand:
I have used these guys before. It is $51 for 3 (fixed size PCBs) in about 3 days.
This one seems to be more flexible, but more expensive, depending on what you want - # of layers, plated thru holes, soldermask, silkscreen, etc.
There are many, many more like these. There are all over the back of engineering mags like EDN, ECN, EE Times, etc.
Some places have their own design software that you must use, others can accept Gerber files from any layout package. It all depends on what you want to do and how much you want to spend.
Other options are as mentioned by others. You can buy perf board and wire it up, you can use any of the various copper clad boards, or you can etch your own PCBs.
We have a cool thing here in our lab. It uses a router on double sided copper-clad to give us proto PCBs. I can go from Gerbers to a PCB in about 30 minutes. Supposedly we can do 4 layer boards too, but we haven't tried it yet. Cost us about $12K but we have saved that much in 3 months just by doing mechanical fit checks. I would love to have one at home, but being able to play with it at work is almost as good.
Express PCB is good, I've used them before. If you just need a one-off, they have free layout software and everything. Very slick. No solder mask or silkscreen, of course.
At one time I had an old HP flatbed pen plotter modified to do PCBs. I modified a standard HP felt tip to friction-fit one of the new .5mm permanent markers and set the plotting speed down to the slowest it would go - something like .5 or 1 inch per second, I think. Tape the cleaned, scrubbed single-sided copperclad to a sheet of paper and it would draw the resist pattern directly on the copper, slick as can be. You don't want the copper surface scuffed up, just clean and shiny. If you can find a pen plotter any more, it's an interesting project. I never could get the toner transfer pr photo etch stuff to work well enough.
Now I just send a file to Olimex, wait a couple of weeks and have super-nice boards.
Etching circuit boards is a skill well worth learning if you really have an inclination toward homebrewing and experimenting. (I most certainly hope that you do!
Originally Posted by [b
It's a bit messy, and just a tad tricky, so I suggest you link up with someone locally who's done it. A more tedious (but intuitive) method is to use a Dremel moto-tool and grind away the copper from a copper clad board. This is a really good way of tuning microwave circuits, but definitely not for mass production!
Also, you can buy prefabricated boards with pre-etched patterns...sometimes you have to shop around to find just the pattern that works...and sometimes even that's a bit of a compromise, especially with R.F. work
The UGLY method is still the best for most radio circuits. There's quite a lot of that info to be found on the web and old QST issues.
"The more you know, the less you don't know."
I've cooked up about 20 to 30 boards using the Inkjet Photo paper transfer method.
1) Find a free PCB layout package. Draw up your design. I liked Eagle CAD so much I sent them a few bucks for the effort.
2) Print the design on the cheapest Inkjet Photo paper you can find. The cheapest papers work the best for reasons I won't go into here.
3) Home Iron set on the highest temp, iron for about 5 mins.
4) Soak in water until the paper is saturated, peel, use a toothbrush to clean between narrow traces etc.
5) Etch, clean the ink off with acetone and drill.
Works great for dual sided and SMT stuff as well. The results are very crisp... if only I could get a solder mask printed on there
Good advice thus far.
It really depends on what you're after. If you're just looking for "perfboard" most electronics outlets carry this. The last time I bought some, it was from allelectronics.com. Perfboard is just circuit board material drilled in a 0.1" grid with (usually) copper pads on one side for soldering. How you wire stuff is up to you. 0.1" is a standard for many components such as DIP IC's.
The next step up is a printed circuit board. You will have to lay this out yourself, and it's unique to the circuit you're building. Once done, each part will have a specific spot on the board where you can just solder it in. Some guys make their own, but there are places that will do this for you. Like Dale, I've used Express PCB before, and they do an excellent job, but a bit pricey. Their "small job" is about $60 for three identical boards. But like Dale mentioned, their software is free and you have complete control over the layout.
The real question is, what are you really after?