Elecrow PCB Service Review and Impressions
I recently had a need to order some PCB’s for work. These are simple 8-channel logic level converters. You can find these circuits everywhere online, but I needed a specific interface to attach to a specialized relay board.
What I Ordered
Elecrow offers colored PCB’s at no extra cost, so I went with blue. Green gets boring after a while, don’t you think? My board is small, so I panelized two together. Elecrow doesn’t do v-scoring or mouse bites, but they will route almost any shape. I went with a partial routing and cut them apart with a saw. I only needed a few, so I didn’t care about designing for manufacturability. I added two small mounting holes on each board in case I needed them later. As far as PCB’s go, this was pretty simple, I was hoping Elecrow wouldn’t screw anything up too bad.
I ordered these boards mid-week, they showed up at my desk exactly two weeks later. Not bad!
Overall I was pleased with Elecrow’s service and quality. Shipping was fast and I got an email with a photo of my order before they sent it. You can tell the boards were e-tested which is nice. They added a 6-character order code to the top side. Somebody must manually do this, it was in an appropriate spot.
The default solder mask expansion was just fine. In fact, the boards are quite accurate in this respect. Maybe just the slightest misalignment, but fine for most applications. I added a logo in the soldermask exclusion zone on the back ground plane. This turned out well and was very smooth.
I inspected every trace and didn’t find any fault. None of my traces were very close to begin with, but I would be comfortable pushing it a little bit further.
Holes, Pads, and Vias
All of my holes on the top layer were spot on. There was a little misalignment on the bottom, but not enough to cause a panic. There wasn’t much of a pad on the header connectors. Expanding that would have helped. The same was true for the vias. I specified tented vias in my gerbers, they had no problem with this. All of my vias were completely tented. As intended, my mounting holes were not plated. I read in another review that Elecrow plated holes unless you had a separate drill file, but that was not the case for me.
I was impressed with the silkscreen quality. All of my text was very clear even with small fonts. The soldermask did not come off even after cleaning with an acid brush.
I ordered lead-free HASL for these boards due to lab requirements. It was fairly smooth and easy to solder to.
I got 11 panels for a total of 22 boards. They sent one extra which was nice. After shipping, it ended up being about $0.60 per board which was great. I had no complaints and the boards worked just fine.
If you panelize like this do not try to break the boards apart by hand, you must cut them. I tried breaking one to see what would happen, sure enough it snapped through the header holes. It’s a good opportunity to see the inside of a hole though.
I’m happy with Elecrow. Though this isn’t a very technically challenging board to manufacture, I was pleased with the results. I would order again and recommend to others.Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.