Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sky-Macau PCB Fabrication Service Review

I traditionally use DorkBotPDX for all of my DIY PCB fabrication needs, but for larger boards the flat $5 per square inch cost doesn't tend to work in your favor, so I decided to test out the PCB fabrication service that Sky-Macau offers.

Since I was making a few Objective2 headphone amplifiers with my friends I decided to have five of these PCBs made with Sky-Macau.  I emailed with NwAvGuy's O2 project folder and asked for:
-Desired Quantity: 5
-Layers: 2 (4 and 6 also available)
-Color: Green (blue, red, yellow, black, white available)
-Board Thickness: 1.6mm (free for other thicknesses actually)
-Surface Finish: HASL (ENIG available)
-Manufacturing Time: Normal
-Shipping Service: Standard Airmail
-Default copper weight is 1oz but they do have 2oz capabilities

I received a quote of $58 shipped for five boards which equates to $11.60 per board, and the O2 boards are a good 80mm x 100mm in size. (~12.4 sq in)  It is important to note that throughout my communications with the company I always received responses within 24 hours and the responses were always written in fairly good English.

The turnaround time is admittedly quite long unless you pay extra for expedited fabrication and shipping but the value is definitely quite good.  I sent my project folder to them on 2/25/2012 and received my boards about a month later on 3/28/2012.

Here's images of the O2 PCB fabricated by Sky-Macau:
It looks about the same as the one I had on hand from JDSLabs if not slightly higher quality. I think the silkscreen is slightly sharper on the Sky-Macau boards than the JDSLabs one.

Using my benchtop DMM as an ohmmeter I checked a few trace resistances and was pleased to find they were more or less the same as the JDSLabs ones.  (my DMM has a resolution of 0.01ohms at best)

Overall I think I've found Sky-Macau to be a fairly good place to get cheap PCBs made if you need five or more.  DorkBotPDX will still give you better quality boards and faster service, but Sky-Macau offers a reasonable level of quality and features for the price if you're willing to wait.
I still find Seeed's Fusion PCB service hard to beat in terms of cost, but their options are rather limited (1oz only, limited colors, fixed quantities, etc.) and I don't think their quality is as good.  I encourage others to give the Sky-Macau PCB fabrication service a try and let others know what you think in the comments below!

Sky-Macau Parts Store
As you may have noticed Sky-Macau also carries a decent selection of cheapo electronic parts, but I find that Tayda Electronics generally has higher quality parts and faster shipping.  There are still a few things I get from Sky-Macau though including SMD resistors/capacitors/LEDs and USB receptacles.  I actually think their 1206 LEDs are quite nice and I've found that the 0.1uF1206 caps seem to be on target capacitance wise but the 1uF are more like 0.77uF or so and the 10uF are more like 7uF or so.  Considering you get 50 of them for 3USD I never expected much anyway.


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  2. Thank you very much.