I asked someone to design a PCB for me. How'd they do?

First things first, I have already posted about and built this, with success, for a friend of a friend’s wedding gift. I’d like to be able to make more of these for friends more reliably and quickly, so I outsourced the PCB design. Here’s my previous post about this circuit: MS-20 Filter modified for 9v by Dirtbox Layouts

For $40 someone made this gerber zip for me of this schem so I can cut out a lot of time on these stripboards. It occurred to me this could be worthwhile when doing the vero for the A/DA flanger. After 132 cuts and 60 jumps, I wondered if someone could use the schematic to make a PCB for me since no one was selling them presently.

Someone else also noticed the original schematic AnalogOutput had linked in the aforementioned post was slightly different than the veroboard layout, and that the latter was more updated. So my Gerber Guru elected to use the veroboard to come up with this PCB.

What are your thoughts on all of this? I am coming at this from a love of the assembly process. I love the wiring, the complexities of it all, and I’ve been soldering for just under 20 years. So I am aiming to more or less just build tried and true layouts to provide my friends and I sick gear affordably. I also like to spend more energy on the enclosures.

Did my guy just hook me up? Or am I wasting my money because I’m unnecessarily intimidated by this part of the process? Are there other, better avenues for this? I wanna ask him to make cards for a monosynth build next, after the A/DA of course. At this point, unless there are any glaring issues brought to light here, my next move is to order, build and test.

From my perspective as a beginner at PCB design, it seems serviceable, but not very high quality. No ground pour, poor silkscreen, single-sided design…

Regarding the last one, is the plan to DIY the PCB, or have it made professionally?
As the board is single-side, traces had to be routed between the pads of the chip, which might be troublesome for a DIY etching job, and unnecessary when every fab offers two-sided prints for the same price.
Two-sided would allow to space things out more for soldering comfort, some resistors are really close to the DIP chip.

How do things connect to CN1 and CN2? Given the size, block terminals?
If it’s wired directly, space allowing, a way to thread the wire could be welcome:

It ought to be different, the original circuit is designed for ±12 V power, the stripboard version is for +9 V.

I admit I didn’t take a close look at the stripboard when you posted it before. Now that I do… it’s not slightly different, it’s a lot different. The original uses two CA3080, more or less equivalent to the single LM13700, but also two TL074 quad op amps which are not present here. Nor are the transistors. In fact the whole CV current source is gone, replaced by voltage to a pot and a fixed resistor.

What’s this being used for, anyway? A guitar effect?

Without going over it in detail the PCB looks adequate. Looks like it’s designed for hand etching. As Aria points out, if you’re getting it done commercially you could do some things differently/better. But they probably would not make much operational difference.

The two connectors? Wire pads? CN1 and CN2 look kind of random… the switch for instance is wired to pins 1, 4, and 5 on one and pin 2 on the other. Which will work fine, but it doesn’t make for very neat wiring. Likewise the res pot connects to both sides. It might make for harder trace routing if these connections were to be organized more sensibly, but nothing that couldn’t be handled with a 2 sided PCB design and use of a ground plane.

I don’t know what software was used but the resistor footprint silkscreen is inconsistent — some resistors don’t show lines connecting the body to the pads. It’s nicer if all the text is oriented consistently so you don’t have some upside down relative to others. KiCad handles both of these better.

I like having both component references and values on the silkscreen especially for as simple a circuit as this, which has a fair amount of room for both. But that’s a matter of taste.

There’s also plenty of room on the board for some text identifying what the circuit is — if you have several PCBs in the same box it’s nice to be able to tell at a glance what they are! And name(s) of circuit and layout designers are always good.

Another thing that’s good: Mounting holes. Whether you intend to use them or not, having them there gives you (or others) that option.

It’ll probably work fine, unless there’s some error I overlooked. But there’s room for improvement.

The resistors that are missing their silkscreen lines also appear to have slightly larger pads and drillholes, that is something I’d definitely mention to the person who designed the PCB.
I’m not a fan of the sloppy alignment and haphazard orientation of (polarized!) components and designators. (R4/R5 silkscreen being upside down in relation to the rest of the board, R11/R15 facing different directions, makes my neurotic skin crawl).

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It’s not even that systematic. R2 and R10 have different size pads, for instance. It’s almost as though they were placing pads and drawing components manually. Really it’d be less work to learn KiCad.

We were going to have them made at JLCPCB due to how cheap it is. And those are screw terminals for the wires, per the PCB designer’s suggestion and my like for them.

The guy asked for something he could put on his pedal board he uses for both guitars and synths.

I did ask about the mounting holes and how those terminals are connected. All in all doesn’t seem like the best work unfortunately.

While i can see doing this one in software (and sorry to those wondering what was used, I have no clue. My mate found the guy on Fiver.) i can’t imagine doing something like the A/DA. Wish i had the time but, I work in front of a computer all day, so I more or less am trying to let someone else do that part of this process for me so I can kick back with the solder station at night.

Yeah that was interesting to me too. He had the opportunity to not do it like the stripboard layout but chose to do so anyway.

Personally, I’ve been designing for a year or so, KiCad all the way, and I quickly realized out that there’s a lot of people who purport to teach, but who are too set in their ways, ways they might have learned in the 70’s, while the quality of prototypes you can get at low cost has dramatically increased in the recent years. This board reminds me of that, it feels like the work of someone who limits themselves to old software and home etching techniques.

If you’re going to use JLCPCB, there’s no reason for the board to look like this.

Being single-sided means that the ground has to be explicitly routed all over the place (with traces that seem too thin for comfort, but that depends on the circuit whether it matters).
A two-sided design with a ground pour on both sides and a few vias would take care of that. By simplifying the routing, it would be possible to have the components more spaced out, laid out aligned with each other in a logical order, to make the board easier for the builder to assemble.
By using better software than what they used, components wouldn’t be misaligned, and resistor footprints wouldn’t randomly change their design and pad size.

I feel confident (once again, as a beginner) that I could fit the circuit in a PCB half this size, and still make it easier to assemble and more reliable.
Nonetheless, what you have is likely to work fine.

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Thanks everyone for your honest answers. We elected to try to find someone on Upwork to build a relationship with who has more experience with what we’re doing specifically. You definitely get what you pay for, so we’re looking to spend double or more to get the result we’re looking for. In the meantime, learning how to do this is officially on my list.