PCBWay review MCU boards

Published by Priscilla Haring-Kuipers on

We have worked many times with PCBWay before and have visited their factory.  They have made most of the insides of our modules (TUESDAY WOBBLER EDGECUTTER). We also have done some really big boards for FenixIV prototyping with them as they can go bigger than other board houses.

This review concerns the process of having MCU boards made for our FenixIV system. Our MCU boards are 4 layer boards of about 5 by 5 cm, with 58 parts per board.  There is a medium-fast microcontroller on this board as well as some flash memory, RAM and a stereo audio codec. Part of the reason we wanted to do this at PCBway is that they have an Xray machine to check the insides of the BGA chips we are using in this design.

We inquired for the first time about this board on the 3rd of July 2020. We received a preliminary quote the same day and a question if were okay with panelizing the design in a frame of 4 units per panel. We approved the panelizing and received a new quotation the next day.

We went through the BOM list that PCBway gave which had some parts listed as not available to them. We approved everything OR given part numbers OR china equivalent and gave the go ahead to make 100 pieces. Note that for our small run size some components were suddenly twice as expensive as on Mouser. Especially the pinheaders and through-hole components were insanely high priced so we decided to not have PCBWay place them but to solder them on later ourselves. Buying our own parts and sending them to China remains a gamble that we are not willing to take.  Getting parts into China is notoriously problematic.

On the 17th we received an e-mail concerning a part that was not available and a suggestion to replace it with – which we okayed the same day. This happened again for another part the next day.

On the 21st we received an e-mail saying that no designator information was included in the silkscreen- requesting us to check this and update so that they might continue.  We resent a separate layer containing the refdes of all the parts
both in gerber and png file.

On the 27th we received assembly pics to approve. Everything looked fine so they shipped our boards.

We received them 03 August. This process happened to be a little slower than we are used to from PCBWay because of the questions in between. They respond very quickly to anything by e-mail, but our time zone difference makes any contact a 24 hour process. Should you want this to go faster, just adjust your clock to China. However,  we are very happy they checked these things with us instead of guessing and continuing. In total this took one month from first ask to product in our house.

All 100 were in good order and the ones we’ve used have not given us any trouble in our Beta units. We need 4 of these boards per FenixIV so this batch is enough for our first 25.

=  4,5 out of 5 stars 

* in return for promising to do a review we have received a discount on these boards, however no promises were made concerning the content of our review.



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