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Just because this site starts the beginning for newcomers to electronics, don't get the impression that everything on the site is simple.
We have made a lot of things look simple by explaining them thoroughly and constantly edged you to carry out developmental work yourself.
This is all very physiological as some of the items we are presenting are really quite advanced.
It's only when you get feedback from constructors, do you realise the complexity of some of the projects, and some of the difficulties being encountered.
To design a project, trouble-shoot the circuit, get it working perfectly, design a PC board and house it in a suitable enclosure, is quite an achievement.
When the project involves a microcontroller, there are additional stages in de-bugging the program and burning the chip.
If you have ever completed a design, give yourself a pat on the back.
The sense of accomplishment is enormous.
That's what electronics is all about. It's getting and dies off the ground and seeing the end product.
Although it can be a complex task, it's not impossible.  It's just a matter of tackling the different steps.
Possibly the most expensive part is the production of the PC board. The prices we charge for a board do not reflect the actual cost of design and manufacture. We spread the cost over 1,000 units and merge the cost of prototyping into the production-run.
When you get an individual board made, you will get quite a shock. Boards are an expensive commodity. And to get and overlay and solder-mask is an added expense.
The cheapest manufacturer I have found is ExpressPCB. They also have a very easy to use FREE PCB design program. You can download it from their site (3.66MB). It allows you to create your own trackwork on a single or double-sided board and send it in to them by email. The boards are ready the next day and "fast-tracked" to you at the all-inclusive price of $62.00 for three identical boards. This is a great service and the CAD program is very easy to use. It's something you will definitely need once you get to the stage of making your own PC board.  Read the chapter on Making Your Own PC boards.

Colin Mitchell