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'PCB Production - apcircuits..'
1997\05\04@145057 by Richard A. Smith

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>Use apcircuits at

>E-Mail: spam_OUTstaffTakeThisOuTspamapcircuits.com
>WEB Page: http://www.apcircuits.com

>You can download a free Easytrax PC Board design program, lay out a double
>sided plated through board, FTP your gerber file and drill files to
>apcircuits, then get the completed boards about a week later.  I got 6
>3.5"x3.5" boards for around $100US.  A double sided plated-through board is a

I just finished bringing up some boards I had done by apcircutis and I was
VERY dissatified with the results.  Over 60% of my vias were not thru
connected and about 20-30% of my pads as well.  My jumper per inch ratio for
this board is very high and it was very, very frustating.

In defense of ap however I don't know if it was something that I did wrong
with my board specifications that caused it or if it was just apcircuits
quality.  Has any one else experienced this?

One thing that really chapped me was that I had a part that the pad size and
the hole size  were equal and ended up a big via from my power plane to my
ground plane.   I would have thought that they would have caught such a
glaring error when doing the film.

--
Richard A. Smith                   Always remember to pillage
Contract Monkey &               BEFORE you burn.
Head Pryo Technician
.....ras2KILLspamspam@spam@tant.com

1997\05\04@155118 by Maris

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At 01:48 PM 5/4/97 -0500, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

  Did you leave enough annular pad width around the holes (10 mil minimum)?
Failing to do that can cause damage to the pads when the holes are drilled.
  We have done a number of fairly complicated PCBs with AP Circuits and
have never had a problem -- their boards have always been high quality. We
have even used them for small production runs when time was short.
  I don't think it's feasible for APC to check every pad on a PCB and guess
what the designer had in mind. You can download GC Prevue from their web
site and use it to check the Gerber files for errors yourself before you
send them.

1997\05\04@205757 by Eric Brewer

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{Quote hidden}

I have used APC for some 12 to 15 boards. Only once, did they make screw up.
They drilled a couple of holes at random points on the board. Additionally,
they put in two extra vias. The Gerbers given to them were fine. They agreed
and gave a new set of boards. Yes, it is a little frustrating to spend a
couple of
hours debugging only to find out it is Fab problem. But, for the price and the
quick turn, it is VERY difficult to beat.

Any other problems I have had with APC boards are of my own doing! For the
price, you get basic service; if you want full service, you have to pay for it!

There are two other companies that I use for multi-layer or two-layer legended
boards. They are both quick turn and have good prices.
       300 square inches/2 layer/legend/solder mask/3 day/$300
       Ask for AJ at OnTime Electronics in Illinois
       +1.847.299.9900

       300 square inches/2 layer/legend/solder mask/1 day/$500
       Ask Zulki at NexLogic in Santa Clara, California
       (local for me, so it is a great price for 24 hour/same day jobs)
       +1.408.727.3500

As always, your mileage can and will vary!

cheers,
eric

1997\05\05@071020 by Andy Kunz

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>I just finished bringing up some boards I had done by apcircutis and I was
>VERY dissatified with the results.  Over 60% of my vias were not thru
>connected and about 20-30% of my pads as well.  My jumper per inch ratio for
>this board is very high and it was very, very frustating.
>
>In defense of ap however I don't know if it was something that I did wrong
>with my board specifications that caused it or if it was just apcircuits
>quality.  Has any one else experienced this?

My results have been 180 degrees opposite this.  I have only used them
twice, but every time they were perfectly done.

I used SuperPCB from Mental Automation (http://www.mentala.com) and got
exactly what my screen showed, no more, no less.

All vias, thru-holes, etc. were connected well, even traces which did not
meet their .008/.008 guidelines came through perfectly as well.

The only thing which is different than a $2000 board-house is that, for
"Proto-1" service, boards are sheared rather than routed.  Fine with me for
that price differential, I'll use my X-acto with a carbide bit and do my
own routing.

>One thing that really chapped me was that I had a part that the pad size and
>the hole size  were equal and ended up a big via from my power plane to my
>ground plane.   I would have thought that they would have caught such a
>glaring error when doing the film.

Remember, they do not proof your boards for you.  That's YOUR job.  Hand it
to one of the others in your office to verify, don't expect ANY board house
to do it.

Also, learn a little about the process.  Holes are drilled and plated
through BEFORE they etch them, opposite of most do-it-yourself kits.

Perhaps you need to read in detail their HTML about the process again.  It
sounds like you are expecting something that they do not promise to provide.

Andy

==================================================================
Andy Kunz - Montana Design - 409 S 6th St - Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
         Hardware & Software for Industry & R/C Hobbies
       "Go fast, turn right, and keep the wet side down!"
==================================================================

1997\05\05@091232 by Dana Raymond

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> I just finished bringing up some boards I had done by apcircutis and I was
> VERY dissatified with the results.  Over 60% of my vias were not thru
> connected and about 20-30% of my pads as well.  My jumper per inch ratio for
> this board is very high and it was very, very frustating.

I've used APCIRCUITS twice now and have been generally happy with the
results. The first design returned with unplated holes undrilled, and
both designs seem to have had undersized holes for the 35t drill (which
meant that all the headers were either difficult or impossible to
stuff). They delivered the second design one day late, but called me to
let me know about it.

I'll be using them again: With a thoroughly checked design, all holes
plated, and oversized holes/pads for headers, etc.

The convenience of low cost and fast delivery is highly valued!

BTW I havn't been very active on the PICLIST since I changed to DIGEST
mode. To reply I had to edit the entire digest message and insert the
subject manually. Anyone know of an easier way (with Netscape V3.0)?

Regards, Dana Raymond

1997\05\05@100326 by root

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>
> >I just finished bringing up some boards I had done by apcircutis and I was
> >VERY dissatified with the results.  Over 60% of my vias were not thru
> >connected and about 20-30% of my pads as well.  My jumper per inch ratio for
> >this board is very high and it was very, very frustating.
> >
> >In defense of ap however I don't know if it was something that I did wrong
> >with my board specifications that caused it or if it was just apcircuits
> >quality.  Has any one else experienced this?
>
> My results have been 180 degrees opposite this.  I have only used them
> twice, but every time they were perfectly done.

       I'll chime in an say my results were exactly the same-- perfect.
This was with a LOT of very small holes (20 mil).

>
> I used SuperPCB from Mental Automation (http://www.mentala.com) and got
> exactly what my screen showed, no more, no less.
>

I use Eagle PCB and although I sent them some data that was flawed the
first time, they picked up on it and called me back without just blindly
making the board-- Nice.

<snip>

I would definitely reccomend them to anyone trying to make small
quantities of double-sided boards.  I've heard there's another company
with a similar name in Canada (can't remember which) that is a little
cheaper, but in comparison to larger quickturn houses, A.P. Circuits is
considerably less expensive.


Larry Battraw
<@spam@larrybKILLspamspam-cicdphx.com>
[remove - to send email]

1997\05\05@103434 by myke predko

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Hey Richard,

I have used AP Circuits about a dozen times now and only finding one problem
(some improperly etched cu that left a "blob" on a trace, although it did
not affect the operation of the board).  Actually, my experiences have been
nothing but good - send the gerbers, aperture and Drill files and three days
later FedEx delivers the boards by 10:30 AM.

Andy Kunz summarized quite well what AP will and won't do for you, but here
are my two cents.

- Understand why you are doing this.  I find that spending $80 Canadian
(what two small boards always seem to end up costing me) to be worth not
having to prototype the cards either as vector boards or wire wrapping.  I
have really only gone into production quantities on one board.  As a
hobbyist/author, using AP circuits to try out my designs works well for me.

- AP Circuits is a prototype shop.  They are not a production house.  As
such, their board tolerances are quite poor when compared to what's possible
if you're willing to wait 2 to 10 weeks.

- read through all the online stuff (not just the AP circuits stuff).
There's a lot of good information out there.

- AP Circuits are not there to critique your designs or point out potential
problems.  If you are doing this for the first time, then learn from the
experience.  Before going with AP, I used to make my own boards with fair
success, but if there was a problem, I didn't have anybody to blame but
myself.  I've learned a *lot* from having my own boards built.

- Ask questions.  While the guys at AP circuits are not there to critique
your designs, they will give you some good pointers.  And, you can probably
get answers to general questions from the various people on this list.

- Follow their design rules.  The proto1 boards are guaranteed to 10 mil
spacing/minimum traces, don't violate it.  The same goes with specifying
drill sizes - I found the best results when only using the proto1
"Standards" (marked with a splat on the web page).

- Use the GCPREVUE program to make sure your board looks good before you
send it out.  This includes creating a correct .APR file for it.  I go
through the design three ways.  First, each side of the board individually
with and without the .APR file (without the .APR file will give you line
drawings and I find I can identify problems (such as unconnected nets)
easier this way) and then with both sides together (and the .APR file) to
make sure everything lines up correctly.  I also print out oversize images
of the boards onto overhead plastic to help with this checkout.

- Use the right tool.  I have done boards with up to four connectors (IDC
and D-Shell) and six active components.  With using Easytrax, this is about
as complex as I would want to go.  For anything else, I'll use an integrated
package like Ulti-Board for schematic capture and board layout.

- I find it good practice to spend a lot of time up front figuring out the
best component placement before wiring the card.  The measure of success is
not having any vias.  Actually, my first few boards only had two drill sizes
(0.0420" for chips and connectors (although, I use 0.0350" now for chips)
and 0.125" for tooling holes).  Now, I'm comfortable having four (0.0280"
for vias, 0.0350" for chip pins, 0.0420" for Connectors, and 0.125" for
Tooling Holes).

The more time you spend figuring out the best layout of the card, the easier
time you'll have wiring it.  The easier time you have wiring the board, the
higher the probability it will work without any problems.  In the course of
wiring a board, I will ditch a design several times if I see a better way of
putting the components.  Oh, one word on this, I always keep the chips
orientated the same way, if I have a choice between orientating the chips
the same way or simplifying the wiring, I will always keep the chips
orientated the same way.  These boards are not silkscreened and I don't want
to have an issue where I can't visually check the orientation before
soldering the boards.

You probably feel incented to keep the boards as small as possible (lower
cost), but note that AP Circuits has an extra cost for very dense boards, so
you may want to stretch things out and make things easier on your self.  As
part of this, always try to make all your traces accessible to EC (cut and
add wires).

- Last note.  As the designer, you are the ultimate authority, don't expect
an "Expert" to know what you want to do better than you do.  For one of the
designs in my book, I had a couple of hundred boards built by another
company, using the same Gerbers that I gave to AP Circuits.  This other
company decided that they could improve on the design by tweaking some
traces and changing drill sizes.  Not having a lot of experience with
designing boards (although lots of experience critiquing others), I let them
go ahead and the end result was 200 unusable boards (which the company did
take back and rebuilt using the original design).


Sorry, lots of pontificating here and probably a basic tutorial on designing
cards the myke predko way.  But, I guess the basic message is, don't whip up
a design and expect it to come out perfectly without truly understanding
what you have done.

Getting your homework done will guarantee no problems when you get your
boards back from AP Circuits.

Good luck,

myke
{Quote hidden}

"My ancestors didn't spend millions of years clawing their way to the top of
the food chain, just so I could become a vegetarian"

1997\05\06@161034 by myke predko

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Hi folks,

I just got a call from Wayne Bamber, the president of AP Circuits who had
heard about the complaints about his company on the list.  He seemed to get
a copy of my note and wanted to talk to me about the situation.

Wayne asked me to have Richard to contact him directly to talk about the
problems Richard had with his cards (he's concerned about the 60% missing
plating on vias).

AP Circuits wants everyone on the list to know that they do care about the
quality of the product they make and will refund the cost of boards if there
are any problems with their workmanship.

myke

"My ancestors didn't spend millions of years clawing their way to the top of
the food chain, just so I could become a vegetarian"

1997\05\07@225249 by Richard A. Smith

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>I just got a call from Wayne Bamber, the president of AP Circuits who had
>heard about the complaints about his company on the list.  He seemed to get
>a copy of my note and wanted to talk to me about the situation.

Wow... I am truly amazed at how even though several people piped up and
contested my results with much more positive evidence my (mistaken) comments
went all the way to the top.

Once again... I was mistaken on my Canadian proto PCB company.  The company
I used was EP Circuits not AP Circuits.

--
Richard A. Smith                   Always remember to pillage
Contract Monkey &               BEFORE you burn.
Head Pryo Technician
spamBeGoneras2spamBeGonespamtant.com

1997\05\08@044258 by gary skinner

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I will add my $.02 -

I use AP Circuits a lot, and have never had any real trouble.
I have used them several time for runs of 50 boards for small
production of a device.

EP circuits on the other hand is a little cheaper, but much less
quality.  Hole plating was OK on the one double side board I had
done, but several of the units had the solder mask skewed so far as
to be off the pad.  Some units were OK.
I tried them again for a single sided board.  The copper was really
plated heavy.  This tends to close up the holes.
Not worth the little money I saved.
Gary Skinner   TakeThisOuTgskinnerEraseMEspamspam_OUTcsd.net
Electronic Solutions, Inc.
design of custom electronic controls

1997\05\09@172130 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
Does anyone have recomendations for a board shop for "small production"
lots of pc boards with a longer lead time?  Say, 100 3x5 boards in 3-6 weeks?

BillW

1997\05\09@183652 by Dennis Kegley

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People might try talking to my brother at the shop he works at his e-mail
address is: RemoveMEDuaneKegspamTakeThisOuTaol.com.

                                               Sincerely,
                                               Dennis Kegley
*******************************************************************************
A foolish constinecy is the hobgoblin of little minds.
                                               Ralph Waldo Emerson
*******************************************************************************


On Fri, 9 May 1997, William Chops Westfield wrote:

> Does anyone have recomendations for a board shop for "small production"
> lots of pc boards with a longer lead time?  Say, 100 3x5 boards in 3-6 weeks?
>
> BillW
>

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