Olimex advice for Eagle users
UK suppliers for PCB prototypes
(Last updated May 2015)
Between about 2005 and 2009 I used Olimex exclusively, but I found
it was getting very difficult to place orders with emails seemingly often getting lost,
and the orders seem to be getting slower / taking longer and longer to be
handled. The PCBs were unfortunately not the best; incidences of tracks lifting and
through hole plating coming out during rework are significantly higher with the boards
I've had from Olimex than those from other manufacturers. I've not
used Olimex since, so thought it worthwhile sharing who I do use now.
The options seem to keep changing over time, but I'm trying to
update this list as I find new ones:
The advantage of all the non-Olimex services is that you don't need to
worry about adjusting the drill sizes etc; you can just send standard
Naked" - a free 48+ hour turn around board. No solder mask or silk
screen and not routed to outline, but if you need to prove a layout it
looks like a good way to go. Sadly no longer available.
train's express 1 day prototype service - it's actually slightly
cheeky, as it's a 1 day service (cut off for orders is 9AM for same
day dispatched). Board is same as "Go Naked" service, but is routed to
outline. It is a guaranteed service, so I use this is I'm in a rush.
- PCB train in general - fairly
reasonable price for 'proper' boards with mask/silk with a choice of
- Olimex - they're still
absolutely the cheapest, especially for small boards where you need
panelisation. I've heard that their service has improved since I had
problems with them back in 2008/2009, so may well be worth a go.
(However, they shut down their PCB service from 17th September 2013,
and it's not clear when it will resume, given it's now been unavailable
for almost 2 years.)
- Ragworm - a PCB pooling
service, but unlike other PCB pool services I've seen the prices seem
reasonable. Double side PTH, 10 working day service - I've used this
myself a number of times.
Here follows some advice based on my experience of using Olimex for PCB prototypes.
General advice on Olimex
If making a small board, try if possible to make it panelize onto an SS panel
rather than an SQ, as it is cheaper to order 4 SS panels than 1 SSQ.
(You get a 20% 'repeat
order' discount for 3 of the SS panels, even if they are all ordered
Make sure you have the 'Always vector font' option in the 'user
interface' settings switched on.
Olimex have some advice for
avoiding their 'silk screen' fix charge.
They also have
instructions for generating gerber and so on.
- Save board/schematic with a -ss prefix
- Run OlimexAllSilk.ulp
- Run drillcfg.ulp
- Goto CAM processor
- Run excellon-rack.cam, giving it the rack just generated by drillcfg.
- Run gerb274x.cam
- Use pentalogix viewmate to view the generated files
Advice for single sided boards
When doing single side boards, the eagle libraries use lots of 0.8mm drills
- this isn't a standard drill for olimex so they will charge you $1.30. Just
pay this; it's usually not worth the hassle to avoid it.
If you really insist on avoid this charge, you have two choices:
- Use restring to increase the pad sizes, then use a drill rack without a
0.8mm drill, and make sure the tolerances cause the 0.8mm holes to be
increased to 0.9mm.
- Follow the instructions below for changing drill sizes for double sided
boards, and change the 0.8mm drills to 0.9mm ones.
Advice for double side boards
For double sided boards, Eagle will give you the required hole side in the
final board, but olimex require the hole size before plating.
It is a bit fiddly to do this, see our HOWTO
for adjusting drill sizes.
Joseph Heenan, firstname.lastname@example.org