PCB Fab Review: EasyEDA

2017-03-30 22:39 - Making

Following my two previous such posts, EasyEDA reached out to me requesting a review of their service. Disclaimers up front: First, they offered a $50 coupon so I paid only the shipping for these boards, but this article remains my own unvarnished opinion. Second: I did not use their design tools, I already know KiCad and can't spend the time to learn a new one. This is review is about only the PCB fab service, so point one is that they support both modes (use their design tools, or upload your own produced separately).

Three revisions of my wi_ther board.  Rev A by Elecrow, rev B by Seeed, Rev C by EasyEDA.

To the right is a comparison of three revisions of the same board. The green board on the right is the back and front of the board made by EasyEDA, with a PCB ruler showing centimeters besides that. Click to embiggen, open in a new tab to go even bigger.

The Good

The quality of the boards I received was very consistent. And quite good overall. There was the occasional light scratch, and a semi-consistent sort of wrinkle in the solder mask, but they are only evident under close inspection, never deep enough to cut through the solder mask. The silkscreen is bold and legible, even under a microscope it's consistent and solid. Compare especially the line around U4 to the rev B board in the middle, whose silkscreen is spotty and hard to read. Routing of the internal cutouts is also quite good (although I intentionally rounded as many corners as I could in this version, after experiencing this in rev B). The square corner cutouts around U3 show the worst, still minor, issue here: one corner has a bit of over-cutting.

The Bad

There's a fair deal of dust, especially visible along the right side of M1 on the front-up board at far right. Easy enough to wipe off before assembly. Then of course those darn added part numbers! I specifically put instructions to place the number inside the outline of M1. That will be covered by a part once assembled, becoming invisible. Instead they put it right smack along the edge of the front layer. There's hardly a more visible spot.

Cost

Cost was very good. I also got a stencil, which due to size/weight forced express shipping. So I'll do a separate cost comparison, for this 99x33mm board, cheapest options including shipping:

QuantityEasyEDASeeed Fusion 1Elecrow 2Dirty PCBs
10$17.51
$1.75/ea
$16.21
$1.62/ea
$13.76
$1.38/ea
$23.00
$2.30/ea
20$24.57
$1.22/ea
$28.94
$1.45/ea
$24.34
$1.22/ea
$25.00
$1.25/ea
50$55.48
$1.11/ea
$67.84
$1.36/ea
$56.08
$1.12/ea
$49.00
$0.98/ea

1 Seeed had a (temporary?) $5 off shipping special, in these prices.

2 Always the "special two layer, 10qty" service. Edit to multiple quantity of that in the cart for 20/50 total quantity.

When I first put this chart together, EasyEDA had the best price after shipping at anything but quantity 10, for this board. I then had the idea to use multiples of Elecrow's "special" service, which brought them down to the same price range. It's worth noting that pcbshopper.com isn't clever enough to try this. If you're cost sensitive, invest a little time into exploring all the options offered from several fabs.

I've got a different larger board that I'm working on (149x68mm) and I only need one of it. In this case five from EasyEDA is easily the least expensive among several fabs (coming in about 25% cheaper than the next lowest option). Once again it's worth checking several sources, and even designing to fit into a particular envelope which is efficiently priced if you can. For this larger board, it has to be that size.

Overall

These boards are perfectly good, and also very inexpensive. They match or beat the quality of the previous revisions from other fabs, for similar or lower costs. I'm very happy with this service. That said, when I'm not getting the service for free I'll probably pay the premium to not get extra part numbers added to hardly-controllable usually-too-visible parts of my boards.

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