Kevin Darrah

Where’s my copper??

by on Apr.06, 2016, under Uncategorized

So I’m always willing to try new board manufacturers, and it seems like new ones are popping up everyday. I usually ‘test’ them out with a small prototype run of just ~10 boards or so. This time for some reason, I was so impressed with their user interface and the ‘buzz’ out there that I pulled the trigger on x100 bare boards… the price did seem a little too good to be true though, but oh well, let’s try it out!

So I got the boards in and they looked great!
Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.57.13 PM
The boards really do look great, but as I started looking more closely, I noticed a major problem.

I normally fill both sides of my boards with copper, and since I have some mounting holes, I made sure there was a keep out perimeter around the holes, so that the screw-head doesn’t cut into the copper:
Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.37.33 AM

Now, flipping the board over, I did the same thing:
Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.37.42 AM

Hmmm, wait a minute. Anybody see anything wrong? There’s no copper fill on the bottom side! Okay, now the heart is pounding… did I forget to draw the polygon on the bottom side of the board? Did I screw up the gerbers? Let’s look at the bottom-copper gerber file I sent them:
Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 7.09.09 PM
Okay, everything looks good there, so what happened? This is so strange – I mean, how do you have traces on the bottom side, but not the fill? It’s like they modified the gerber file on purpose. Well, a few emails back and forth with the manufacturer (and pictures to prove it), they concluded that it was their fault and will be sending another x100 boards at no extra charge. They said that it was operator error, but I wonder how that could even happen. Since they resolved this quickly for me, I won’t mention the company’s name, but had I gotten screwed over… well this post may have been worded a bit differently :) Anyhow I thought this was kind of an interesting experience that might be interesting to some people.


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