PCB production is the very backbone of the electronics hobby. To take a one-off design done on breadboards with Arduino or other dev boards to a all-in-one PCB is just an awesome experience that one can go through. At the heart of making PCBs are the PCB manufacturers. OSHPark, Seeedstudio or many other famous PCB manufacturers exist today and all of them provide high quality, low order quantity PCBs at an affordable price.
However, I realized that where the PCB industry was lacking was affordable PCB assembly especially when you are using pin-pitch components on the order of 0.5mm and BGA packages. That was of course until I found PCB:NG. PCB:NG is an awesome PCB producer based in USA much like OSHpark and Seeedstudio except it provides assembly services at a very competitive low price. The last time I was out in the market for assembled PCBs, I was tripped up by local PCB manufacturers having super high prices. Check this post out for more of that. However, when I went back searching for such a solution a few days ago, I found PCB:NG.
What does PCB:NG do
PCB:NG is a PCB manufacturing service like OSHpark except it offers assembly services to make it a one-stop solution for PCB design/manufacturing. It is still in beta though however and it requires an invite, but I managed to procure one and I'll be using that to give you guys a preview of the service.
Once you enter the site, you will be greeted by this entry screen with a login page if you have gotten an invite to enter the actual site.
Once you get logged in, you'll be greeted with a very familiar UI interface, with similar tabs and options to OSHPark or Seeedstudio's online services. The first windows would allow you to choose from all the projects you have already added to your cart. I'll just show you guys the UI using the basic blinky demo project.
The next screen allows you to organise and tell the software your gerber layers and reference them correctly.
This is where PCB:NG really starts shining as the tabs of Parts and Placements allows you to specify the parts for assembly with their respective digikey part number and to specify the placement of these parts respectively.
First things first. The whole concept of PCB:NG is awesome and I really like the prices for what they are providing. The implementation of the UI and the automation software is really well design and easy to use. There are a few bugs here and there currently but that is to be expected given that it is still in beta testing.
However, this is still half the picture. The other half of the picture can only be obtained after I order and receive a copy of the manufactured boards. So keep a look out for the next post where I will look at the manufacturing and assembly quality of the boards provided.