Sending a PCB off for manufacture

The new project that I recently started is moving along nicely.  I have a specification, initial schematic, and initial PCB completed.  So the first “no returns-ees” moment has presented itself:  I sent the PCB off for manufacture.  We use Advanced Circuits for our prototype PCBs.  We’ve used them for over 10 years are are pretty happy with their service.  It is completely automated and the price is reasonable.  A couple of services that are especially nice are the free design file verification and the $33 each PCB deal.

It’s always a bit of a gut-clench when a PCB is sent off – the design is set in stone at that point.  Unfortunately, it seems that a first revision PCB is never 100% correct.  There is always something wrong, even if it is something small.  It can can be a bad part model, or a misconnected net on the schematic, some functionality that was not foreseen that is now necessary, or even a misbehaving part.  There is always something that needs to be changed.

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Presently, this design is going pretty well, with no large hiccups, so it will be interesting to see how this design and PCB comes out. The new boards should be in by the end of the week, and I will hand-assemble them using this:

microscope

Even with my bad eyesight, I can still hand-assemble the boards as the individual parts are 0805 packages, and the micro is a TQFP.  With the microscope, I can see what I need to.  So by this time next week, I should have them built and some preliminary results: power supply, basic micro functionality, basic user interface, and maybe even some of the high-end firmware will be written. I’m just hoping I don’t have a bunch of cuts and jumps on the board.  Time will tell.

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