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Tuesday 17 November 2009

PCB source

I was asked by another UK amateur about my use of PCB for things if I had a friendly PCB source. The quote is "...just curious about what seemed to be extravagant usage – it was obvious that either you had deep pockets or an interesting story to tell"...

This is the story of how I got the PCB.

In May 2003 needed a few bits of PCB as I was trying to build a BLT. Maplin wanted what seemed like a huge amount for very little and I had heard mention there were some PCB fabrication places around Cambridge... so I found one... then in total innocence I went in to see them, this was back in 2003 just after I was licenced and asked if they had any 'off cuts' they could sell me. I even had my little bag of change out. The answer was not at that time but could I turn up, a couple days later, which I did on a bicycle with a pannier eagerly hoping might get enough as I was about to build that BLT so didn't need much! Anyway the bod who met me was one of the directors and he listened to what I wanted and why etc... (he wasn't an amateur). So that night he gave me 6 or 7 pieces for what I wanted as long as I showed him the end result which I was happy to do, I went back 2 weeks later with it and a desk pencil holder I had made with the other bits I had left over, I noticed the reception didn't have a place for the pens by the signing in book, so I made one and gave it to them. We bought each other a beer in a pub around the corner and I went off to operate /P for maybe the first time from the bicycle.... he said come back in a month, and he'd have some more bits, I could share with others .... but next time could I come in a car?

Anyway I turned up with help from a now SK G0 who had van and he gave me a (48 crisp packet sized) box of off cuts as he explained they go through >1,000 square feet of PCB in a good week, I had been given all the off cuts from the last few weeks production runs. Also he had a stack of sheets c2' x 4' that were not up to spec as the copper was ridged or non uniform, he asked if I wanted them... said yes obviously, he fed a dozen or so into an auto gulloteen (spelling?) and chopped into foot squares. I kept one sheet whole for the home brew bench. He said keep the cash as he would have had to pay to dispose of it all. However, he asked me not to reveal who/where I got it from and if I was to throw it out to contact hime first.

A local club when still a member I took the PCB sheets in one night and thought £1 a sheet to club funds seemed reasonable but hardly anyone interested so I took it home and I use/used it for making chassis. The next meeting I took the off cuts of PCB in and said were free needless to say 90% disappeared in minutes, now I realise that the dark stuff was mobile phone/wifi RF stuff. There was all sorts, single sided, double sided, thick and really thin stuff. I did the same thing the following year too.

That is how I have it and no don't have deep pockets.

This is the same place that also allows me to dispose of used etch solution.

Maybe ask your friendly PCB fabrication place?
Now If I can just find a mobile phone mast engineering place with some 2" hardline they don't want for that mag loop project!

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