Author Topic: Prototype PCB's : what to start with  (Read 4292 times)

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Offline Housedad

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Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« on: May 09, 2017, 05:42:11 pm »
I realized with my new bench that I will be wanting to make some circuit boards here and there after breadboarding them as I continue learning.   There is a plethora of different PCB's available out there and I was wondering if you folks could recommend a type and size assortment to keep around.   I do not want to get into having pcb's made for now, as most things I do will most likely have a short time of usefulness. 
At least I'm still older than my test equipment
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 06:36:28 pm »
You mean perfboard? Generally when someone refers to PCBs they mean a custom printed circuit board layout designed for the specific project, not a stocked part.
 

Offline Housedad

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 07:02:02 pm »
Yes, I mean stocked parts.   They are all technically a PCB. 
At least I'm still older than my test equipment
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 07:06:52 pm »
Bare perfboard is't that useful.  You probably want some Veroboard (long strips) and some matrix board (individual square or round pads) both drilled with a 0.1" grid (as standard) .  You'll also probably want some SMD to DIL adapter boards due to the decreasing range of chips and discrete semiconductors still avalilabe in through-hole packages.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2017, 07:12:12 pm »
I usually just use bare perfboard, occasionally those little prototyping boards from China that are a grid of plated through holes. For more sensitive things I've started using bare copper clad and deadbug style construction. For more complex projects I etch a custom PCB using toner transfer from my laser printer.
 

Offline julian1

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2017, 09:54:52 pm »
I like the prototyping pcb's that follow the same layout as regular breadboads - with horizontal rails for supply voltages and vertical fanout for dip-like packages. It makes transferring or developing a designs simpler,

Like this,

https://www.adafruit.com/product/571

Except I often get generic ones from China which are less expensive.

Offline rdl

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2017, 10:33:56 pm »
I bought a kit similar to this a few years ago. I still have about half of the boards, but they do come in handy. The quality of the ones I got were good - double-sided with plated through holes and solder mask. The hole markings do differ from front to back (A on one side corresponds to T on the opposite for example), but other than that they're fine.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Teenitor-PC-Board-Relays-24-PCS-5x7-4x6-3x7-2x8CM-Top-Quality-Double-Side-PCB/292058691127
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 07:50:30 am »
I've tried a bunch of custom stuff on eBay. The winner is plain veroboard. The only thing better is custom veroboard with thinner traces which are easier to cut and don't load up so much on the solder. I also use a lot of custom 0.05" spaced veroboard which is the bees knees for SOIC and small pin count SOT parts.

Unless for specific circuit, I rather keep the cheap phenolic around than 1.6mm FR-4. Can be cut with scissors. My custom veroboard is made on thin FR-4 for the same reason. IMO, plated through holes are PITA for prototyping, too.

But it's almost never that I would use more than an itty bit of veroboard.. anything much larger would end up on breadboard or a PCB.  The veroboard is to fix mistakes on the breadboard/pcb and/or to bodge things. If you want to build masterpiece on protoboard, go with your bad self. FR-4 and plated thru holes, etc.

Some plain copper clad comes in handy, too. With some simple hand tools and a rotary engraver.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 07:53:45 am by KL27x »
 

Online CJay

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 12:13:26 pm »
Depends what you're building, my preference is for plain old Vero or stripboard, but I build plenty of prototypes or quick lashups on perfboard, recently I've been using the boards with power bus on as I'm building a Z80 computer.

For RF stuff I use protoyping board from Dartec or build it ugly style/Manhattan using clipped off pads of PCB material glued down onto copper clad PCB, SMD stuff I use a breakout board or wire it into a circuit. The board with all the components on it is one I have put csub circuits and all sorts of modules onto, can't remember what it was last used for, I *think* it had a very simple GPSDO on it which 'sort of worked' but there's a mixer IC on there too so...


There are probably as many preferences as there are hobbyists so it really might just be a case of trying a few types to see which one you prefer.

The cheap Chinese boards are, in general, pretty terrible quality but are dirt cheap and as such, ideal to try out. The green boards in the pic are also Chinese and are cheap but seem to be really good quality though I've not used on in anger yet.



« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 12:16:20 pm by CJay »
M0UAW
 

Online NivagSwerdna

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2017, 01:14:08 pm »
For through-hole veroboard or tri-pad board or that horrible stuff with just holes

For SMD then your best bet is to trawl ebay and find something that fits the footprints you are going to use...

BUT...

I hate wrangling with veroboard... you always run out of hole in the wrong place and its a real pain and I really value my time so instead...

Use a simple CAD program e.g. DIPTRACE, send a board to China (Elecrow or whatever PCBShopper recommends) and work on other projects while you wait.  For 2-layer boards less than 10cm x 10cm these services are super cheap (relative to time). 

If you get creative you can create PCBs that have generic functions so can be used for multiple of your upcoming projects.

Have fun!

 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 02:03:57 am »
Quote
you always run out of hole in the wrong place
First couple of circuits I made, I used the board the "right" way. The mental contortions abounded, but I perservered. Boy were they pretty, to me. Until the first problem cropped up and I was down to chasing a bad connection.

I have ever after just put the components AND the jumpers all on the copper side, similar to the manhattan method. Except the DIP bugs aren't "dead." It is much easier to build/rework. I may put a ground plane on the other side of the veroboard, which is practically the only case where I use the holes.

Edit: It is incredibly handy to have nothing on the bottom, no need for standoffs or whatnot. Just glue the board down where you want it, and you can still tweak/rework/repair it.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 02:07:28 am by KL27x »
 

Offline rdl

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 02:44:36 am »

Putting everything on top is an interesting idea. I'll have to give it a try sometime.
 

Offline laneboysrc

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 04:01:34 am »
you always run out of hole in the wrong place and its a real pain and I really value my time so instead...

Use a simple CAD program e.g. DIPTRACE, send a board to China (Elecrow or whatever PCBShopper recommends) and work on other projects while you wait.

What I do lately is I use the CAD program to make a layout of what later goes onto the prototyping board. Set the grid to 0.1" and off you go. Jumpers become traces on the top layer. For very simple stuff I don't make a schematics, just add footprints to the PCB.
When I was young I used pencil and paper. But CAD is so much easier to change.

 

Offline Shock

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2017, 04:48:21 am »
Get a couple pieces each of veroboard, perfboard and single sided copper clad. It all cuts to size so 6x4" lengths are fine for small circuits. It's fairly cheap just don't go overboard because this will sit around unless you use it.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2017, 04:53:41 am »
With dead bug soldering you can point to point wire on any surface with glue to hold down the component if needed. So don't think you have to make these beautiful looking creations the soldering joints are more important.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline Housedad

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2017, 05:24:57 am »
Thanks, guys.   I think I will get a few of several types and see which ones work out the best for me.  There are soo many options to choose from.  But I can't do them all, so I'll just choose stripboard, some thru hole board, and the SparkFun Solder-able Breadboard.  That assortment of protoboards from Ebay looks like a good start on them.  I should get some plain single and double sided board too in case i find the time to try deadbug or Manhattan.  I hate the thought of waiting around for a board to come via snail mail after I have a circuit ready to move from the solderless breadboard stage. 
At least I'm still older than my test equipment
 

Offline mtdoc

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2017, 06:14:23 am »
With dead bug soldering you can point to point wire on any surface with glue to hold down the component if needed. So don't think you have to make these beautiful looking creations the soldering joints are more important.

Beauty is in the eye.....
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2017, 06:50:11 am »
Beauty is in the eye.....

Coolest part of that is the wire held down on the right hand side, a completely over engineered design.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
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Online CJay

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2017, 08:11:48 am »
Beauty is in the eye.....

Coolest part of that is the wire held down on the right hand side, a completely over engineered design.

Nah, I reckon that's a ground point for instruments and the wire (white and blue stripe) only looks like it goes under it.
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Offline Shock

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2017, 12:02:00 pm »
Nah, I reckon that's a ground point for instruments and the wire (white and blue stripe) only looks like it goes under it.

I even zoomed in, totally disappointed.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2017, 05:48:26 pm »
I've seen some *really* ugly dead bug builds before, but it's also possible to make a really nice clean layout, see the Oscilloscope Pong thread here for a great example of that. The technique has grown on me lately, it's excellent for anything RF and stuff like SMPS prototypes.
 

Offline mtdoc

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2017, 06:29:20 pm »
Beauty is in the eye.....

Coolest part of that is the wire held down on the right hand side, a completely over engineered design.

So much to love - the suspended IC socket, the tilted jacks, the soldered on daughter board...
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2017, 08:26:15 pm »
Quote
Putting everything on top is an interesting idea. I'll have to give it a try sometime.

The biggest drawback I have come across is placing pin headers. I'll set the header in the holes over a flat surface so they're flush with the bottom of the board, solder, and then push the spacer down over the solder blobs. The length comes out just about right, and it's strong enough as long as there are more than 2 or 3 pins to a header. For really long headers that must point up, I think you'll have a big PITA.
 

Offline Back2Volts

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2017, 01:55:01 am »
I've tried a bunch of custom stuff on eBay. The winner is plain veroboard. The only thing better is custom veroboard with thinner traces which are easier to cut and don't load up so much on the solder. I also use a lot of custom 0.05" spaced veroboard which is the bees knees for SOIC and small pin count SOT parts.

Could you expand a bit on the custom veroboard ?
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Prototype PCB's : what to start with
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2017, 07:33:22 pm »
Vero board has huge tracks of even width (say 80 mils) which is what u want if working with high current. For me, this is more the exception than the norm; i will deal with high current as needed.

I use toner transfer to make my veroboard with say ~25 mil traces connecting 0.1" spaced 70x70 mil pads. This gives thermal insulation between pads for easier/neater soldering. And it makes the tracks easier to cut, even after the fact of crowding it with joints. I can still cut a track with a chisel without having to remove or cut through a 80 mil wide bead of solder.  This toner transfer board works for me since i dont use the holes, anyhow. Just once every 3 or 4 years when I ran out or lost my last bit, I will fire up another board. Half pitch veroboard is often handy for me for little bits of circuitry, as well. Say 38x38 mil square pads at 0.05" pitch connected with 20 mil traces.

There was a short while where I tried making doublesided veroboard. The tracks on the bottom ran perpendicular to the tracks on top. I used it primarily on one side, and drilled holes wherever I wanted to make a jumper, using vias. This works fine, if you actually want to make a very compact circuit, but for me it is more trouble than it's worth. Single-sided is way more handy just because I'm often using the stuff to fix mistakes (or make modifications) to another circuit board. And having plain and flat bottom to glue over another pcb is usually going to save me more time and effort. And flipping the board and having "hidden" jumpers there is just adding to the mental strain and increasing the difficulty of debugging. I rather keep it all on top in plain view. Jumper wires add up, but it's easy enough to keep them out of harms way when you're using 30AWG kynar, and they are easy enough to follow with magnification.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 08:08:34 pm by KL27x »
 


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