So what exactly did I order? I ordered a ten 2cm x 4.8cm boards, red in color, 1.2 mm thick with HASL finish. Technically speaking, I didn’t order 10. I ordered what’s called a Protopack which will give you about 10 PCBs. Could be a bit more, could be a bit less. You’re kind of taking a gamble on the quantity but for $ 14 it is junk cheap either way. If you must have exactly ten, you can of course just order 10 and pay $ 28 instead. But in my case the Protopack actually worked in my favor, more about that later. I paid an additional $ 19 for shipping via DHL China. Free shipping is available but may take a bit longer.
The order was submitted on a Friday afternoon and I updated the files multiple times. On the following Sunday the files were sent to the manufacturing house and on Thursday they were shipped. That’s a pretty quick turnaround for a super cheap Chinese manufacturing house. Actual pick-up by DHL China was on Saturday. The shipping speed was just incredible, DHL only took 2 days to deliver, despite the first day after pick-up being a Sunday.
So what’s the quality of the board? For $ 33 delivered I naturally didn’t expect much. But I was wrong. First off, I received 12 PCBs. So the Protopack definitely worked in my favor over ordering a guaranteed 10 pack for twice the price. Asides from some minor imperfections on the “J2” outline, the silk-screen is of very good quality. Even the small text is clearly readable. I’ve often had issues with crappy silk-screen even with “high quality” services so this really impressed me. The vias also look very satisfactory.
After this successful test I sent of a more complex design to Dirty PCB. It has 50 Ohms striplines, a more complex solder stop mask around the striplines, some ground via stitching and Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) finish. I can’t wait to see how well they will turn out.
Links and Sources:
 Dirty PCB: http://dirtypcbs.com/
Check out PCBShopper.com. It’s a price comparison site for PCB manufacturing. If you were willing to have green boards, you might’ve gotten them a little cheaper and faster at a different manufacturer.