BatchPCB Pays You

SparkFun’s BatchPCB has been a well-known service to get your PCBs fabbed, and now it is sporting a new feature. It has just come out of its downtime chrysalis with the ability to pay you for making your designs. If you have designed a PCB and want people to pay you to use it, BatchPCB will now do that for you. [Patrick] says “We want engineers to benefit from the low-cost production for prototypes and have the ability to sell their work, conveniently.” There are a few caveats. First of all, each seller must be a resident of the United States and send BatchPCB a W-9. Secondly, PCBs are only warranted against manufacturing defects, so buyers should make sure the PCB they are buying is a working design. Finally, the sellers must only be selling designs of their own or with proper permission. We are big fans of free, open-source designs, but we can see how this would help an engineer recover some of their costs to develop a board and might lead to some interesting brokering of designs. What do you think of this new service?

80 thoughts on “BatchPCB Pays You

  1. Great idea, for a couple reasons:

    1) Easy distribution of work.
    If sold at a relatively low price it eliminates the need to make one’s own prototype boards from board files on the internet.

    2) Judge feedback
    If a lot of people are buying the damn thing, it’s a good sign. Make more!

    Can’t wait to see what comes out of this.

  2. Any talk on recommended submission formats? I just started working in Eagle and have a schematic and board that would be great to have produced rather than etch it myself. Plus, it’s always good to support Sparkfun!

  3. why is it good to support sparkfun? because they exist?

    I have never used their pcb service, mainly cause most everything I read about it talks of slow times and high price

    now they are basically asking for you to submit designs so they can resell them on their store for a 1 time fee


  4. Being an engineer myself, and doing most of my prototyping in my garage, what do they bring to the table that I can not already do on my own?

    In order for a service like that to work, they would need good pricing and the ability to do multi-layered boards.

    The home etcher can get good-pricing, but it’s rare for one to be able to do multi-layered boards.

  5. Lol, well, I guess I’m a bit of a noob and like being able to get everything from simple components to ICs and, gasp, dare I say it, Arduinos and accessories. Plus, they have a pretty friendly and humorous site, they post schematics and details about most of their products, they don’t take themselves too seriously (which is more than I can say for some people on here), and they have a solid processing and shipping department. Finally, they had a good year and instead of hoarding all the profits for themselves, they have a freaking FREE DAY! Are you kidding me? Find me someone else that does that.

    How bout this, you tell why NOT to support them.

  6. For a site that price gouges on nearly every single thing, and not just against the big box stores against sites just like them, I cant recommend anyone goes there

    5 bucks for a 65 cent multiplexer

    5 bucks for 10 crappy fall apart jumper wires (others sell 75 for a buck more)

    Cheap Chinese soldering stations for 2x their listed msrp, only a few bucks cheaper than the real hakkos they are knocking off

    ect ect ect

    piss on them

  7. I’ve used BatchPCB for a number of boards so far, and I can’t complain, really. Sure, it takes a few weeks to get boards made, but for one-off PCBs, the price is awful hard to beat. Once I know a board is good, I go directly to a PCB manufacturer for a small run at a much lower cost per square inch. The site is super easy to use as well.

    @David–BatchPCB does offer four-layer boards as well, although it may take a couple extra days, since they don’t have as many people requesting such boards.

    @lowlysoundtech–If you read the FAQs at BatchPCB, their instructions tell you exactly how to generate the CAM files and upload them if you’re using EagleCAD.

    As someone who is interested in possibly selling some PCB designs and kits, this is a very interesting prospect.

  8. I see seeedstudio as being very competitive to BatchPCB. They will give you 10 pieces of a 5cm x 5cm 2 layer PCB for $20. That would cost you $58 at batchPCB’s prices. $20 would get you a single 5cm x 5cm board from batchPCB.

  9. I understand they have to pay their employees when they are charging thirty five cents for a tact switch that other companies are making a profit on for eleven cents when they probably paid five cents.

  10. He must be new and slacking off hard core cause I’ve never seen this mythical booze restocker guy.

    “they have a guy on staff that does nothing but restock booze

    cry me a river for their employees” -osgeld

  11. I think it is a great idea. If I am trying to do something, and a piece exists that will help me, I am willing to pay. Whether it is ‘slow’ or ‘overpriced’ depends on who is buying, and why.

    I like the Sparkfun guys, and I like the community that has grown up there (and here, incidentally). And nobody makes anyone buy from them. They surely don’t have the volume and overhead of Digikey, and can’t offer the same prices. But if people are buying, and they seem to be, then they must be willing to pay what is asked, for whatever reasons. It cannot be gouging if there are alternatives, and to say so is silly.

    Getting all bitter and chestbumpy misses the point. A thousand flowers can bloom in a free market. Those with the wherewithal and inclination can hop off and buy from anyone they like. Sometimes, I do. But I will keep buying from Sparkfun, too.

  12. I saw it on their website, somewhere in their ever rambling blog

    and I am not comparing sparkfun to digikey directly, so lets compare sparkfun to oh lets say seeed studios

    a 74hc595 on SF = 1.50$
    a 74hc595 on SS = 0.90$

    so if other small hobby shops can afford to not screw you the customer why cant they

    that’s right kiddies, they are too busy making 5 foot tall Nintendo controllers, buying hooch, making wall sized digital clocks

    That is their problem, not mine BUT they are passing the cost onto anyone dumb enough to give them money

    its a bad vibe, and its poor business

  13. @Dave Eaton – Amen

    @osgeld – Sorry you had such a bad experience with Sparkfun. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them. Naturally, yes, there are some things that they over charge on and, yes, you can get free samples from digikey or mouser. So, do I see your point, yes. Do I agree with you, no.

  14. @osgeld

    “I saw it on their website, somewhere in their ever rambling blog”

    Um, no, you didn’t. You might be exaggerating on the basis of Tim in tech support running out to replenish the keg when it dies.

    Anyway, it sure does seem like I work with a steadily growing bunch of people who get paid to do stuff they enjoy, which as near as I can figure out happens because people continue giving us money to ship them stuff in little red boxes. All this strikes me as a reasonable metric for what constitutes “good business”, but maybe I’m just blinded by all the hooch and LEDs.

  15. I was going to say, there seemed to be a lot more to the anger than just prices. A lot of companies sell stuff that isn’t the lowest price, and I don’t think their trying to screw me.
    I like them because the seem active in the community at the hobby level, making the “5 foot tall Nintendo controllers”. If I pay extra to fund it, so be it, at least they’re giving back, with interesting projects, its my choice, and somethings to me, are worth more than money, especially when it comes down to a few cents difference.

  16. This seems like a good idea to me.

    On the designer side, it fits a nice middle point between just distributing schematics, or investing money in creating a large batch of PCBs and selling kits.

    On the hobbyist side, it’s a good alternative to etching your own. Designs which aren’t kit-worthy might still show up on BatchPCB.

    That said, I haven’t really used sparkfun or BatchPCB, so I can’t comment on their pricing. But, even if BatchPCB is overpriced, another company could take this same idea, and it would probably be a useful service.

    hmm. In fact, a short-run kit-fulfillment site could be a neat business.
    designers upload a schematic and a parts list, and set a markup %.
    users browse lots of kits, and purchase one.
    the site charges for the fab & kit, plus markups for the designer and site.
    users get their kit, with professionally etched PCB and all necessary parts.

    It could be a nice middle-ground for designers. They wouldn’t have to maintain inventory, assemble kits, or invest a lot in an initial batch. If the site had enough volume, it could get good bulk prices on commonly used parts.

  17. Wow. I think 2-3 times is a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m assuming your “research” is valid.

    I,too, will keep completing projects, at minutely less reasonable cost while supporting that community that supports me.

    Osgeld, take care and have a good one.

  18. “Um, no, you didn’t. You might be exaggerating on the basis of Tim in tech support running out to replenish the keg when it dies.”

    whatever I dont have time to keep up with your staffs drinking problem, IMO the only reason you keep sending orders out is because you put yourself in the front light, joe noobie may think thats cool never seen this stuff before and somehow they become loyalist

    usually spouting properganda like “active in the community” or they give back

    ok fine you have a blog, you occasionally do something that may be community related (still trying to find this magic “community”) still does not excuse you for price gouging, again 80$ for a 45$ soldering station 5$ for a 65 cent chip

    Once noobies wise up they usually dont go back to you so you need more publicity to get more noobies to blindly hand you money “cause your cool”

  19. “usually spouting properganda like “active in the community” or they give back”

    uhm, just out of curiosity, then why have I spent vastly more money other places?

    (still trying to find this magic “community”)
    Isn’t that where this discussion is taking place?

    And why are you so upset about this? Its a free market society, shop somewhere else. Or is this just some viral marketing campaign and the joke is on me?

  20. “uhm, just out of curiosity, then why have I spent vastly more money other places?”

    um cause they charge you 3x the price on all their items genius

    “Isn’t that where this discussion is taking place?”

    No, this discussion is taking place in yet another sparkfun look at me thread happening on hack a day (which is about as community oriented as a prison) on a wordpress blog

    “And why are you so upset about this? Its a free market society, shop somewhere else. Or is this just some viral marketing campaign and the joke is on me?”

    I am not upset, this is on par with hack a day crap, someone doesn’t agree with what we are being told is cool and all of a sudden i am “angry” or “upset”

    And here is one for you

    I osgeld, am just trying to “give back” to the “community” by saving noobies money by telling them what a ripoff sparkfun is

  21. Actually no, the answer was, because I didn’t know they existed, and after I did, its because they don’t sell everything I want to buy. I do realize they can’t compete with the place I normally buy, but they also sell products, like breakout boards and stuff like that, that that big distributor doesn’t, with the price of shipping and handling, its cheaper to pay a little more for stuff I could get cheaper somewhere else, because the extra S & H would make it more expensive over all.

    Sorry to imply you were angry, but the tone of your comments seemed that way. I’ll take into consideration what I already knew about their prices not being the greatest, but like I said, I already figured that out. Nothing against them, I realize its just the level of business their on. As far as being “cool” I don’t get big into brand identity/loyality, I use PICMicros, which I know is the off brand here, because most of the people use arduino. I never considered this place a prison, because I am free not to read it when ever I feel like, which I honestly don’t read the comments much, usually just click the links on projects I find interesting on the page. I am a noobie at this, and I do appreciate any information to make this new hobby better, you just came across a bit angry, and less informative about it.

  22. also, sparkfun dont take themselves too seriously so why should you?

    a guy to restock the booze…. it was probably a throwaway comment shoved in there for the fun of it, in reality theres probably no such guy, and tim the tech support has probably never changed a keg once, if he exists.

  23. @Ryan: a W-9 has to do with income taxes.

    @lowlysoundtech: I wasn’t aware that digikey or mouser does samples, or are you refering to that TI samples are (iirc) sent out from digikey?

  24. And for the record, Tim changes the keg about once every two weeks these days. We must have 70-some odd* people running around now and most of them seem to like beer.

    * In both possible senses of the idiom.

  25. To actually add to the topic, and not distract from it, which degrades this sites usefulness, which I apologize for any off topic comments on my part. I do think this incentive for designing PCB’s is a pretty cool idea. Both for designers and people looking for designs, solderbynumbers tried something like this, but that site didn’t seem to take off well. Hopefully this will fair better, and help fuel some innovation and inspiration, the economy sure could use it.

  26. Osgeld, I hope your place of employment makes you bring your own candles (and matches) for lighting, your own chair for sitting, your own blankets for heating, and your own money for leasing your work space. And I would CERTAINLY hope that they don’t do something silly like provide a refrigerator (or the power to run it) for you to keep your sack lunch in (unless they also charge you rent on it).

    As a customer, I expect all companies I frequent to sacrifice ALL in the name of efficiency and ultimately, the lowest possible prices. I think we can agree on this.

  27. there is a huge difference tween having a chair to sit on and providing beer for your employees, then jacking up the price of everything to compensate for beer and stupidity that comes with beer

  28. @ tim, yea Id love a beer at 4pm, that would mean I was goofing off the last hour driving up cost and expenses for our customers

    but for some silly reason the managers just dont get that idea

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