Putting together a group buy requires much work and attention to details.
After all, this is the part of product development where things are not so straight forward. There is no V = IR really. Selecting vendors, testing out multiple manufacturers, finalizing the designs and figuring out how and where to launch are only a portion of the big equation.
Assembly service is the one I am putting much effort and thoughts into these days. There is no way I will be manually soldering every single component like I did for the OA release. While I loved every moment of it, it just takes too much time! It took 2 hours to solder the components and get a single board tested.
So naturally I have been getting quotes for PCB assembly services, both local and remote companies. Local vendors are too expensive for what they offer. One quoted $12 per PCB and the tolerance requirement was very large. The representative told me relaxing the tolerance from 6 mil to 8 mil would reduce the cost, but I doubt it will make any difference in the end, as this is already 3 – 4 times more expensive than popular PCB services in China (ie. PCBWay.com). My favorite assembly services thus far are US-based MacroFab.com and Circuithub.com. They are PCB Assembly Service 2.0 start-ups with kick-ass user interfaces. They automate most of the process with intuitive front end, so I don’t have to “email” my files with instructions. This is nice because I can get instantaneous estimates with breakdown of PCB manufacturing, component costs, and assembly services. The final prices based on MOQ are still being worked out, but I would love to go with one of the two. The next best thing in the world is assembly houses based in China. PCBWay.com has been my go-to PCB manufacturer thus far. Extremely fast, reliable, and even friendly experience all around for very reasonable cost. The only downside is I get dinged for duty and custom, this applies to every service oversea. I have not been able to calculate the cost for their turn-key style assembly service yet, as their user interface is not as automated as the US-based ones. I believe PCBWay.com will still be cheaper after all said and done, but nothing is decided yet. Really need to finalize this soon.