Author Topic: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)  (Read 10137 times)

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Offline jonatanrullman

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Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« on: January 12, 2017, 03:33:57 pm »
Hi everyone,

Today I received my first batch of PCBs that I have had manufactured. Previously I have only done a bit of dabbling myself, with the predictable result.

Since I had a hard time finding any good info on Elecrow when I searched I thought I'd add a few comments and a couple of photos for anyone else who comes after.

For this order, which was sort of a trial to see how it worked, I choose Elecrow because they had a slightly better reputation than many other and the price was just a little higher. They also have DRC and CAM files for Eagle which was very handy.

I ordered two weeks ago and they came today with tracking number. Faster than I had expected.

The cost for ten 10x10cm (4x4") 1.6mm with two layers and silk screen on both was $17. If you want another colour or other options it will increase somewhat.
Please note that I placed several pcbs on the same board. Not all manufacturers allow this I've heard. The plan is to use a small reciprocating saw to split them up. We'll see how well that works. I placed the different designs manually in eagle and changed the dimension layer to silkscreen to get a line to follow with the saw.

As you can see from the photos the quality is excellent. Holes are well aligned, except for a few that are a little off (see the vias in the middle of photo #2) and very nicely cut. Silkscreen is just pristine, even at smaller sizes than the 40mil they claim, and I can't seem to damage it significantly even with my thumb nail and quite a bit of force. On a few spots it is slightly misaligned but nothing severe. Even on the numerous places where I have made mistakes and placed text on top of another and text through pads or holes it haven't created a problem. It just stops where it should and is obviously unreadable but that's it.
All pads and vias look well plated, the coating is very nice.

All in all everything is as good as it gets it seems. I have not a single complaint, quite the opposite in fact. I am pleasantly surprised at the quality I received and very happy with the result.

Cheers
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2017, 04:07:11 pm »
You can find more reviews of Elecrow at http://pcbshopper.com/elecrow-reviews/. Mostly good reviews and a few bad ones. I actively moderate the reviews on PCBShopper (disclosure: it's my site), to ensure (as best as I am able) that they are real.

- Bob Alexander
 

Offline jonatanrullman

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2017, 04:15:30 pm »
Yes, I did find some reviews. And if I recall it was actually your site that got me onto Elecrow, so thanks.

But it was sort of hit and miss. Some good, some bad. What I didn't find was some photos of the finished product that I could judge myself, thus this post was born.

Maybe that is a good future feature? To be able to attach one or a few photos to a review.

Cheers
 

Offline Adrian Purser

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2017, 05:27:19 pm »
I recently had a couple of PCBs made using Elecrow and I was very happy with the results and service. I decided to use them after watching a video from Andy Brown on youtube where he mentioned that he had used them.  About 4 or 5 days after ordering I received an email with a picture of the boards before they were shipped. These were the first boards that I have had made for a while so this service maybe standard but I was very happy with the whole process.
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2017, 06:34:20 pm »
i can also vouch for elecrow :) i've have them made countless boards for oneoffs and prototype runs. recently we also started using the assembly service. on the whole i was very satisfied.

Pricewise: for simple stuff it's a bargain, for more complex boards we had quotes that were on par with domestic services (and those included tooling!)
Soldering: they seem to forget to use leadfree (or for some other reason their paste melts at very low temperatures.)
Wrong parts: only one time i specifically asked for Low Voltage variant of PIC mcu, providing part number. i got boards with standard voltage parts
Turnaround time: when they say 3-4 weeks i expect them to be received in a month, not 28 working days. after 3-4 weeks they sent prototype assembly image for visual check, 2-3 weeks later i received the products.
I'm not going to somebody else because you tell me 1.5 months, i'm going to somebody else if you repeatedly fail to meet the deadline you set.
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2017, 08:39:47 pm »
The finished board does not seem to allow much room for the saw kerf you intend to use.  A diamond wire jeweler's saw might work, but that would be slow going.  You may want to find a shear to cut them (I use a vinyl tile shear from Home Depot), or if the back is not complex, run a thin kerf saw where you need to split the boards, then score the top along your lines and snap them apart.

John
 

Offline jonatanrullman

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2017, 08:41:27 pm »
The finished board does not seem to allow much room for the saw kerf you intend to use.

You are indeed correct. It was manageable but for my next order I will increase the distance 0.1" or so.

Cheers
 

Offline jivaei

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2017, 09:24:40 am »
Does Elecrow add production code/identification code to the PCB silkscreen or copper like itead/seeed?
Looking through PCBShopper for the first time, would be nice to know about if anyone has info on the rest of the stores on there.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 11:31:23 am by jivaei »
 

Offline jonatanrullman

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2017, 09:53:49 am »
Does Elecrow add production code/identification code to the PCB silkscreen or copper like itead/seeed?

Not on my order at least. Everything that is on there was put there by me.

Cheers
 
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Offline JPortici

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2017, 11:43:35 am »
no markings here either
 
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Offline richardlawson1489

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2017, 05:58:15 am »
I found it with almost positive reviews. Nice.
 

Offline S13

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2017, 01:47:28 pm »
As a newbie on this forum i can also vouch for Elecrow.

Ive placed 2 orders last December and both orders arrived earlier than expected. Each took about 2 weeks, and that was even during the holiday season. Guess they dont celebrate christmas ;)

So the first order was a 50x100mm board, 10pcs, 2layer, 1.6mm with no special design features. Costs were $15.34 including shipping. I have to say the quality of the boards was better than expected. Pretty much identical to Eurocircuits that i have some experience with, though i didnt push the designrules for the Elecrow design.
I received 11 pcbs of which 10 were assembled, tested and found to be OK:



The second order was a nice black finish 42x90mm board, 5pcs, 2layer, 1.6mm with no special design features. Total of $14.66 with shipping. I really wanted to try black soldermask to see how it would look. And it looks great as an assembled board! :) But the soldering process is more difficult because there are less features of the board visible, so you have a harder time tracking where you want to place and solder components. Next time ill try blue or red soldermasks ;)
Ordered 5, got 7. I only have 3 assembled and they work as expected:




Both PCBs did not have any markings FYI.
 
So for me no longer messing around with diy etching and all that junk... This is cheaper and even though it takes 2 or perhaps 3 weeks to arrive, its still very efficient for home project prototyping. And you really cant beat the quality with a diy etch.
 

Offline technotronix

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2017, 09:31:48 am »
I had a positive experience with this before few months. Even I found it very cost effective.
 

Offline S13

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2017, 02:21:22 pm »
The boards i posted above have minimum clearance and minimum trace width of 0.2mm (~8mil), and that seems to work very well. So i didnt push the specs to the absolute minimum available, which should be 6mil (or ~0.15mm clearance and width). Do other people have experience with pushing these requirements?

Would be interesting to see if a 6mil board would be just as reliable as a 8mil board :)
 

Offline homeless_peep

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2017, 01:41:27 am »
I have used elecrow once. They are really cheap (although panelising seems to increase cost more than you'd think) at 1.5 euros per board at 10 pieces (2 layers), and that includes shipping. The boards look beautiful too, especially the white soldermask is sick.
However, they were very slow, took more than the 7 days they quote (more like 14) and when they eventually shipped (another 3 weeks -or was it 4?- of waiting), they managed to mix up my white boards with someone elses (white) ones. Needless to say, they made them and shipped again at no charge, but that was almost another month of waiting. By the time it arrived i've already made myself a complete prototype on a protoboard and moved on to the next design iteration.
They do send you a photo of the packaged boards on the day they ship them out and include a couple of extras for free.
I have also used their laser cut acrylic service. I wanted the cheapest possible panel for my prototype, so opted for 2mm acrylic, following the hardware standard I'm designing for (2mm thick panel). I just send them a pdf and they handled everything by themselves at no charge, and did a good job as well. The material itself was unsuitable for my needs though, it's very soft. It serves ok as a mockup/short term solution I suppose.
Based on my experience I wouldn't rush to use elecrow again. They are very cost effective considering the quality you get, but they take their time. You can pay to speed things up, but if you do that you might as well go to a western manufacturer.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 01:46:30 am by homeless_peep »
 

Offline djos

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 10:53:46 am »
another happy Elecrow customer here, my designs are incredibly simple to date and the results have been excellent - no manufacturer markings either. :)
The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

Visit my Tindie store for Tandy 1000 Adapters for EX, HX, SX, SL, TX & TL etc
 

Offline L1L1

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2017, 11:46:31 am »
However, they were very slow, took more than the 7 days they quote (more like 14) and when they eventually shipped (another 3 weeks -or was it 4?- of waiting), they managed to mix up my white boards with someone elses (white) ones. Needless to say, they made them and shipped again at no charge, but that was almost another month of waiting. By the time it arrived i've already made myself a complete prototype on a protoboard and moved on to the next design iteration.

Perhaps I got lucky. I'm in Greece -- like you, it seems -- and I always get my orders from Elecrow in about 3 weeks, including a stencil. My latest order was placed on May 25, it shipped on June 1st and reached my home on June 15. As a point of comparison, orders with Seeed Studio usually take a few more days. To get faster results I usually turn to Eurocircuits, but they are much more expensive.

For a prototype-level service, I like the quality of the Silkscreen I get from Elecrow as illustrated on the picture below.

 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2017, 07:27:42 am »
The have a Christmas offer now: 10 PCBs for free, if you design something Christmas related:

https://www.elecrow.com/10pcs-2-layer-pcb-2285.html

For 10 cm x 10 cm max the cheapest shipping cost is $10.20, if you chose 5 cm x 5 cm it is $4.80.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Electronics, hiking, retro-computing, electronic music etc.: https://www.youtube.com/c/FrankBussProgrammer
 

Online asmi

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2017, 03:09:43 pm »
The boards i posted above have minimum clearance and minimum trace width of 0.2mm (~8mil), and that seems to work very well. So i didnt push the specs to the absolute minimum available, which should be 6mil (or ~0.15mm clearance and width). Do other people have experience with pushing these requirements?

Would be interesting to see if a 6mil board would be just as reliable as a 8mil board :)
I don't think 6 mils will be pushing anything. I can do 6 mil traces at home with laser printer and an iron.
Didn't try Elecrow (they are way too slow to my liking), but ordered many boards with 0.15 mm traces at PCBWay and Allpcb, and never had any issues with boards.
 

Offline HHaase

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2017, 09:13:46 pm »
I've been using Elecrow for a while now as my board supplier,  and have been pretty happy with them.  They hit a great price-point for the quality they're offering. The only issue I've ever had was them ignoring a panel layout drawing I had supplied.  Thankfully it was only a minor thing in this case but if you've already committed to stencils and tooling that could potentially be a big issue.   Usually there's about a 5% or so overage with the orders,  which is always nice.   Haven't yet received any defective boards or x-out's in a panel array.

I think they may have changed ink for their silkscreens lately though.  They arrived to me a very crisp white, but take on a tan look during reflow.   Though that could also be related to me using a converted IR oven, so I really won't hold it against them.

I've also used them once for assembly work as well.   Nothing fancy, just a few rows of 0804 resistors,  but the quality was quite good on the solder joints.   I haven't tried anything with an 0402 or smaller, or a fine pitch IC, through them yet.   This was also the ONLY time I've seen any markings on the boards other than my own specifications,  each one had a small silver "QC Pass" sticker applied on the bottom side.
 

Online cowasaki

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2018, 01:38:16 am »
I've had my first PCBs from China today, also from Elecrow.  I'm very impressed with the quality for the price. Also as they can't count they sent me 11 boards instead of 10 :)

The board in a replacement isolated PSU for a cheap Chinese arbitrary wave generator together with an USB isolator.  I was mainly as a test to see how long it would take and how good.  Again mine took 14 days

I've had PCBs made in the UK but the cost is ridiculous in comparison.
 

Offline djos

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2018, 03:10:06 am »
I've had my first PCBs from China today, also from Elecrow.  I'm very impressed with the quality for the price. Also as they can't count they sent me 11 boards instead of 10 :)

They sell you a total area of PCB and if they can fit more of your boards into that total space then you get extra boards - that's pretty great imo.  :-+
The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.

Visit my Tindie store for Tandy 1000 Adapters for EX, HX, SX, SL, TX & TL etc
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2018, 03:11:54 am »
I've had my first PCBs from China today, also from Elecrow.  I'm very impressed with the quality for the price. Also as they can't count they sent me 11 boards instead of 10 :)

The board in a replacement isolated PSU for a cheap Chinese arbitrary wave generator together with an USB isolator.  I was mainly as a test to see how long it would take and how good.  Again mine took 14 days

I've had PCBs made in the UK but the cost is ridiculous in comparison.

Where is your ground plane?
 

Online cowasaki

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Re: Elecrow PCB manufacturing mini review (with photos)
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2018, 08:41:10 am »
I've had my first PCBs from China today, also from Elecrow.  I'm very impressed with the quality for the price. Also as they can't count they sent me 11 boards instead of 10 :)

The board in a replacement isolated PSU for a cheap Chinese arbitrary wave generator together with an USB isolator.  I was mainly as a test to see how long it would take and how good.  Again mine took 14 days

I've had PCBs made in the UK but the cost is ridiculous in comparison.

Where is your ground plane?

I was using KiCAD and it wouldn't produce a ground fill for some reason.  This simple circuit should be fine as is but I'm using version 5 now so my next board will have one.

I was originally designing it to make myself hence all the through holes on the rear connection, SMD on the top and front/rear alignment marks!  Had I actually designed this board for manufacture I would have done so differently but once complete I just thought I would test Elecrow with a simple board to see the price, speed and quality.  Now I'm thinking of stopping making boards myself!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 09:10:42 am by cowasaki »
 


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