For most of the projects I upload to NODE, I include the source files for both PCBs and 3D printable STLs, allowing you to tinker and make your own versions of products and prototypes.
Today I want to show you exactly how to get the PCBs and 3D printed parts made, as it can be confusing if you've never done it before.
Obviously, if you want to buy stuff from the NODE shop that would help support what we do, but I realize there may be times when either the products, or I am unavailable for whatever reason, so having this option is handy.
If you're a casual viewer, and don't intend on making the projects, you can probably skip this video.
Getting PCBs made is really simple these days, as tonnes of, mostly Chinese based online manufacturers have popped up, basically all offering the same kind of service. You upload your files, get an instant quote, you pay, and they make and deliver them. Simple.
Here, I'm going to show you how to get a board made by JLCPCB.com.Their service is pretty inexpensive and fast, though for larger orders I've found their quality control isn't always consistent. There are loads of other services out there, and the process to get boards made is basically the same for all of them. Just do a search for "online PCB manufacturers" to find more. Also, be aware those services located in the US and Europe are usually a lot more expensive, but you will get much better quality.
Alright, go to https://jlcpcb.com, and register an account. Once done go back to the homepage and under the PCB prototype area, fill in the form, typing in the PCB dimensions, the quantity, number of layers and thickness.
Most of the boards in NODE projects are 2 layers, unless otherwise specified, and the thickness, again is usually 1.6mm, unless I specificly state.
Once filled in, click Quote Now
Now click the "add your gerber file" button at the top. When you download the source files for one of the PCB projects, there's usually a directory called PCB, and inside it there will be either 1 or many zip files. These are the files to upload. Each of the zip files represents a separate PCB design, and you can only upload 1 at a time.
Choose the PCB color you want the board to be. This option may be labeled as soldermask color on other services.
You'll see on the right, a live updated price, and once complete, click add to cart.
If there are more boards for the project, you simply repeat this process, adding more items to the cart.
To complete the order, you just select what shipping options you want, and pay, then the boards automatically begin production. Most services take a few days to a week or so, depending on your order, and shipping can take weeks, especially if you choose the cheap options.
And that's the easy way to turn the project source files into physical PCBs. Probably not as complicated as you thought, eh?
If you don't own a 3D printer, you can still get plastic parts made using online services similar to the PCB manufacturers.
The most well known one is https://3dhubs.com, and the process is very simple. You just go to their homepage, click "Get instant quote", then "3d printing".
You then input your location, and upload the STL files located in the project source files directory.
For the material, PLA is usually the most suited, and cheapest, and under advanced options, you can choose what color you want your print to be. For layer height, the standard 200 micron option is usually what I design for.
After that you just go through the checkout, and they automatically pair you with someone nearby who will print out the parts. The pricing for this can be a bit hit or miss, but it's definitely a good option if you don't have access to a printer.
I still also want to pursue the Machine Share idea I mentioned a couple years back, as a way to build out our own community machine network, but that's on the back burner for now.
So that's how to get the PCBs and 3D printed parts made. Depending on what you're getting, it can be cheaper than buying from the shop, but often it's a bit more expensive as you don't get the same economies of scale as you would by buying many of the same part at once. Still, it's good to know.
If you do end up making and iterating on the designs, be sure to let me know, so I can give the updates back to the community. Also, if you see people asking how to make the boards etc in comments of videos, point them here.
Alright, hopefully this was helpful for those of you who are new to this kind of thing. If you do want to support NODE, check out the shop. In the meantime, thank you for watching, and I'll see you in the next video.
Music: Xtract - Audiotool Day 2016 (CC License)