Some time ago Seeed Studio reached out to me, and offered me a set of pcb’s of my own design, so I could review their pcb service. And here we are, after Chinese new year, and our postal service probably delivering my package in my neighbors mailbox, I finally got them. 🙂
The PCB design I decided on trying, was the one from my MiLight hack project, where I am trying to put an ESP8266 into one of the light bulbs to control the RGBW leds.
The ordering process was a bit confusing compared to the other PCB services I have tried, because there were a lot more options than normal. The other just offer some very basic service which is usually fine, but Seeed Studio offer 3 types of pcb’s, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 layers. You have to put dimension in manually, even when it knows the pcb size after you upload it, pcb quantity, panelized pcbs, 8 pcb thicknesses, 7 surface finishes, 3 copper weights, they need to know a min hole size, min tracking/spacing, blind via’s, half-cut, and impedance control.
At first I went over every single option to learn what was what, and that can be a bit confusing and a lot of things to learn about at once, but if all you want is the same basic pcb service, you just leave everything as they are once you loaded the page, and the price will end up at $9.90 for a size up to up to 100x100mm.
After I ordered, they had a question to my design, which added a few more days before it went into production, but still not too bad.
Question to design
Send to production
But enough of text, lets see some pictures!
First the top side
Looking at the alignment of solder mask, holes and pads, this is the best I have seen so far. It is pretty much spot on, where from others I have often seen them a bit out of alignment, nothing so bad they could not be used, but still a bit out. With the PCB’s from Seeed Studio, it is just spot on. The silkscreen is also looking pretty good, so lets have at look at the bottom.
Once again holes, pads and solder masks are perfectly aligned, but the silkscreen seems like a bit too much was applied, the big test can easily be read, but the small one is just some blobs. I am not sure why it looks like this. This was the graphics I added to it, and Seeed Studio added some additional text for tracking, which is actually smaller than my small text, and their text came out just fine.
The ordering process can be a bit confusing with all the extra options, but it also allows you to get some more advanced pcb’s made, if that is what you need.
From ordering until they were shipped was also a very reasonable time. Even when they had a question to the design, which added one more day.
The quality of the PCB is also absolutely in top. The only thing not looking so good is my graphics on the bottom, but the most important part, which is the traces, holes and solder mask are all as good as it gets.