Do you need PCB Assembly Services, or do you not? That is the question. Well, it's A question. Just one of many, I suppose.
One of many, but it is a question just about every electronics developer needs to answer at some point. The answer isn't always yes, nor is it always no. The answer is quite often "It depends." I work here and I don't always have a clear answer to the question. I've sent some board through our plant, and have hand built a few.
For me, it comes down to a few options:
Use Screaming Circuits PCB Assembly Services:
- Does it need to be done right?
- Is time a consideration?
- Are there too may placements for me to deal with?
- Are there more than one or two boards?
- Are the parts too small?
- Are there any BGA packaged chips?
- Will it be monotonous?
Build it myself if:
- It's a no-hurry project.
- The parts big enough.
- It be fun.
- It will be a valuable learning experience.
I can enjoy building up a board myself in the same way that someone working for a car manufacturer might rebuild cars at home as a hobby. 0805 passives aren't a problem for me to hand solder. I don't mind a small number of 0603's. I'll hand solder 0402's in a pinch. I've tried a few 0201's with poor results.
Forchips, I don't have a problem with SOIC's. I'm not bad with a TSSOP. QFN parts are a challenge, but some types have enough exposed metal on the side to solder. I really can't place BGA's, but I'm experimenting to see if I can find a way to solder small ones in my toaster oven.
With the impending advent of desktop pick and place machines, there will be a few more options, but the basic question will remain the same as it is with "build vs. buy" in any industry: "Which do I have more of, time or money?"
Let's get small!