RFM26W Breakout Board – First Dirty PCB Manufacturing Service Test

This is partly a review of the Dirty PCB manufacturing service (“Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards” as they call it) as this is my first order. I usually let my boards being manufactured at Seeed Studio or iTeadStudio, but hearing a lot about Dirty PCB lately made me curious and so I ordered a small RFM26W breakout board.

They provide all you need (including Design Rules and CAM export) for Eagle CAD on their web side. For $14 you not only get around 10 boards (12 in my case) but also 6 different colors to choose from.

I did not opt for a fast delivery and so the package took 2 1/2 weeks from China to Germany. (Manufacturing the PCB took four days.)

First of all they provide a sturdy package with lots of bubble wrap:
Dirty PCB Package

The content was the first surprise – they actually added a Dangerous Prototypes sticker – yay… 🙂

The PCBs are well produced, no “dirt” besides a bit of dust from my side. A few tiny scratches that did not affect the board. The silk screen is clearly readable.
RFM26W Breakout Board

(Comment: the vias need to be covered as they might lead to unwanted contacts. Not visible on the photo.)

So now I have a few new little HopRF RFM26W based boards to play around…RFM26W Breakout Board - Assembled

The Eagle CAD and Gerber files for the PCB are available in my 433 Key Project on GitHub.

9 thoughts on “RFM26W Breakout Board – First Dirty PCB Manufacturing Service Test

  1. Hello Kai,

    very good report. Dirty PCB seems to be a quite good supplier for quick hardware evaluation purposes.

    I am about to evaluate different possibilities to add wireless
    functionality to a product development for health care purposes. I found your blog while checking the different transceivers of Hoperf. My current favorites are RFM69W and the RFM26W. I have actually a quite simple requirement – a reliable transmission range for home automation purposes with low data rates of about 20m indoors and a small – ideally internal or even PCB based – antenna. Did you already made some experiences with the RFM26W? Especially its sensitivity of 126dB is superior to the RFM69W. That’s why I would like to evaluate it first.

    Would you be so nice to share the Eagle files you used here for the breakout board? I am actually a software specialist and not so fit in PCB design. It would help much to accelerate the tests for the board evaluation.

    Best regards

    • Hi Xav, I’ve bought 3 pieces for 14 USD (incl. shipping) on Aliexpress. The respective offer is not available anymore. — Kai

  2. Hey Kai,

    thanks for your work. What type of smd element is on the left side of the sma-connector? A capacitor? If yes, which capacity, and which function does it have with the module?

    Thank you!

  3. Hi, Kai I really loved your PCB and I wanted to order some of them on DirtyPCBS, thats why I wanted to ask you whats the size and thickness of the PCB that you ordered.

    • Hi, here are the details of my order:
      Layers: 2
      Size (actual): 5x5cm
      Color: Blue
      Thickness: 1.6mm
      Coating: HASL
      Stencil: None
      Processing: Normal
      Quantity: Protopack ±10

      — Kai

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