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firebug24k:
Greetings all,

I came up with a crazy idea a couple of weeks ago about crowd-sourcing the cost for PCB prototypes.  Basically, I had the idea to subsidize the cost of PCB manufacture by giving away free PCBs to the author, and then selling off a few copies of the design to cover giving away more PCBs.  Basically you just order a 5x5cm or 10x10cm PCB from the site, email off the Eagle files, and in a day or so after confirming the PCB as valid, it gets sent off to get made, you get 2-3 free copies, and the extra copies go up on the site for other people to buy (which covers your free boards).  I've got a deal with one of the board houses in China to make them, as I buy quite a few boards already for another one of my side projects. 

There's a flat $5.50 shipping fee to cover materials, but other than that it's no-kidding-free.  Right now US addresses only to keep shipping costs reasonable, but if there's a lot of outside-the-USA demand I can change that.

I figured I'd give it a shot for a month or so and see if it can become self-sustaining - if sales of boards equal out free boards mailed, then I'll keep the site up - obviously it's a no-go if there aren't any sales to cover the costs of manufacture!  But I know I like building random projects and browsing a site that had a bunch of circuits boards that are already ready-to-go (along with schematics and BOM) would interest me, so I figured I'd take a stab at putting this together.

Anyway, the site isn't live quite yet, but wanted to get feedback from the community on whether or not this has any chance of success.  Thoughts?

c4757p:

--- Quote from: firebug24k on May 12, 2013, 02:02:20 am ---Basically you just order a 5x5cm or 10x10cm PCB from the site, email off the Eagle files

--- End quote ---

Please support something in addition to Eagle. Gerber, KiCad, gEDA at least.

firebug24k:
That's a good point.  I can support anything I can generate PCBs from, actually, or at least, programs that don't cost a crazy amount of money.

But what I want to encourage is making the schematics available too, not people just giving me raw gerber files.  I hate it when someone posts a cool project, puts up a schematic JPEG and some Gerber files, and then I want to change one or two tiny things and can't without redoing the entire layout from scratch.

So short answer... good idea! :)  I'll update the page to accept more formats, with the stipulation that the editable schematic has to go with it.

c4757p:
I think the idea of using Eagle for something like this is quite contrary to the spirit of making full schematics and layout files available. It's not quite like using Altium for it (*cough*Dave*cough*), but still... The paid version of Eagle is a usable EDA program (I really can't stand it, but that's just personal preference), but the free version is a turd. The limitations imposed are just stupid.


--- Quote from: firebug24k on May 12, 2013, 02:09:34 am ---I hate it when someone posts a cool project, puts up a schematic JPEG and some Gerber files, and then I want to change one or two tiny things and can't without redoing the entire layout from scratch.

--- End quote ---

Agreed.

Do you think you'll be able to make the cost worth it? I can get some damn cheap 50x50/100x100mm boards from iTead.

firebug24k:
As to making it self-sustainable on cost... I'm not sure :)  I'm willing to put a few hundred bucks into it to see if I can get it rolling.  There just isn't an open hardware repository type of place that I can find on the web - some place you can go browse designs and get a board or two to build on the cheap.

Definitely not going to make money on the free ones, but hoping that enough people will visit it as a "let's see what new cool stuff is here this week I could build" kind of store.

I think the advantage of buying from a site like this (for a PCB you didn't design yourself) is that there would be a small inventory in stock, which could ship out in 24 hours, rather than 2-3 week lead time waiting on a batch back from China.

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