Hey guys! So, I shipped about 30 orders in the last 1 ½ month and I thought I’ll give you a quick review of how it all went so far. This is the first time that I assembled PCBs for others, so there was kind of a learning curve to me, especially when it came to the logistics. I hope you find this interesting or maybe it is of some help for others who want to make boards in the future.First Off:
It seems that everyone is pretty satisfied with their boards so far and that makes me pretty happy. Some don’t like it that the SDRAM won’t go higher as 140 MHz. That is unfortunately still the maximum I can archive intentionally. I had some boards that would make 150 MHz for 30 Minutes but that was pretty rare (maybe 3-4 Boards). However, no one was mad and all showed great support. Thank you guys!Logistics:
I shipped initially with a delivery service (DHL), but switched later to a postal service (Deutsche Post). It’s just half the cost and the delivery time seems to be the same. The tracking was still later available through DHL for most countries. Fastest delivery was 1 day 20 Hours inside Germany (surprise!) and longest delivery time (yet) is 12 days 20 Hours to the US. Here is a list of all delivery times so far:
I started shipping with shipping bags that I’ve bought from a local store but switched then to carton boxes
, since it was much cheaper and more sturdy. I've made sure they would fit a regular mailbox (2 cm Height). The boards are also much more secured in it.Costs:
I did not plan to make a big buck with this since I basically sold them at cost. I have paid overall 571€ so far for two batches of components and utilities and was able to get 600€ back in. This whole project is for me a way to get the necessary equipment, learn how to efficiently assemble PCBs, and to get some experience with international shipping. However, here is a list of all costs I had during the last 1 ½ month:
I figured that if I want to buy more than 10 PCBs from PCBway or JLCPCB, then it makes sense to make a batch with multiple orders of 10 PCBs. It is much cheaper than just buying e.g. 30 boards in one order. The shipping cost will be the same since it is calculated by weight, but the PCB cost is completely different.Making the Boards:
My first boards were a mess, I was completely out of practice. I've bought better soldering tips and a cheap microscope, which helped with the soldering. In my second batch, I bought a stencil, soldering paste and a hot-air soldering iron for the SDRAM boards and the results were like night and day.
The IO Board was a pain. I have ordered the wrong VGA connectors and had to manually fix every pin of the connectors. It was almost a piece of art in the end
I bought epoxy glue to fixate the connector to the board, which gave it extra stability. You can see it pretty good in this picture:
I completely underestimated the time It would take to make the IO board. The components are all soldered by hand, which took me about 3 hours per board. I want to make another batch of IO Boards in the near future, but I will order it with stencil this time. I hope that helps a bit. I also figured that it makes sense to buy some components just from AliExpress instead from Mouser or Digikey. Especially the 40 Pin Female Header. Most of the stuff is so much cheaper if bought in some quantities, even with the shipping cost included.Future:
I’ve made some experience with components over the course of this project and I will update the Wiki soon with a more detailed BOM for SDRAM and IOBoard. People are also asking and I’ve got already enough requests for another round of IO and SDRAM Boards. So, I am going to make another batch and I will make remaining boards available in the Buy / Sell Section.
I have also played with the idea of making an external Button/LED Board which could be mounted to a case. I want to make those to see how well it goes and to make my own experience with PCB manufactory. All PCBs I've have made in the past were created by myself, so ordering PCBs from a manufacturer is still somewhat new to me. The Board is pretty simple but I have to test it first to see if it is something, but here are some pictures of it. Big thanks to NegSol for helping me with this!
OK, that’s it for now, this already became a bit longer then I have intended. I hope it did not become too boring
Thank you again for all the great feedback and support!!!